Maryam Nawaz's political prospects

Maryam Nawaz elected as the first female Chief Minister signifies the Sharif dynasty's endorsement, elevating her as their heir and political face

As Maryam Nawaz Sharif steps into the arena of chief ministership, it becomes imperative to assess her strengths and weaknesses rationally. It's crucial to scrutinize her past political endeavors and personal traits to gauge how she can propel forward based on her virtues and mitigate challenges arising from her shortcomings.

Maryam Nawaz elected as the first female Chief Minister signifies the Sharif dynasty's endorsement, elevating her as their heir and political face. Ever since the demise of Mian Muhammad Sharif, Nawaz Sharif was formally designated as the head of the family. Consequently, the family's political and most societal decisions and internal conflicts are invariably influenced by them.

Despite occasional differences, the Sharif family, primarily Nawaz Sharif, holds the reins of power, even in the face of disagreements. The decision to choose between Maryam Nawaz and Hamza Shehbaz for the Chief Ministership was Nawaz Sharif's, endorsed by Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza. Hamza will now take the oath in the National Assembly instead of the Punjab Assembly and assist Shehbaz Sharif there.

Maryam Nawaz Sharif emerges as the sole charismatic figure in her family after her father's departure. She is assertive, engaging in aggressive and emotionally charged politics. She fearlessly stood by her father's side during times of adversity, undeterred by jail time or accountability by the NAB.

Her brave stance during her jail time left everyone astonished: how could the darling of the industrialist family endure such harsh treatment? During Nawaz Sharif's final tenure as Prime Minister, when he faced formidable opposition, Maryam Nawaz took charge of the PM House, orchestrating Nawaz Sharif's vigorous defense in both social media and television channels, actively participating in significant decisions.

During those tough times, she stood as her father's sole companion, spending hours in his company every day. Such proximity invited adversaries' ire, including General Bajwa, who had grievances against her closeness to Nawaz Sharif. Despite being targeted even in the Panama Papers, Maryam Nawaz's resilience and boldness kept her afloat.

In the current political landscape, Maryam's ascendancy represents a new internal circle within the Sharif family, comprising Kulsoom Nawaz, Maryam Nawaz, and Ishaq Dar. This circle was pivotal in making final political decisions. Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan spoke against Maryam during that time. Attempts were made to implicate her in the Dawn Leaks, but General Bajwa was content with not mentioning her name despite Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan's insistence.

During the PTI government, Maryam organized several large rallies in major cities, garnering significant acceptance due to her confrontational style and demeanor.

The Sharif family initiated its political journey by opposing the PPP. With massive support from the establishment and right-wing factions, they countered the Bhutto party's influence in Punjab, fueling their development and political growth while exacting revenge and retaliation.

The Sharif family has similarly drafted Maryam Nawaz's agenda, anticipating that if given a few years, she could replicate her father's influence on the PTI, akin to the PPP's fate.

It remains to be seen whether Maryam's strengths will bolster Punjab's politics or her weaknesses will further weaken the PML-N. Highlighting Maryam Nawaz's flaws and shortcomings is essential. Maryam Nawaz has never been a full-time politician throughout her political career; she has always indulged in part-time politics. At times, she actively participates in politics, delivering fiery speeches at rallies, while at other times, she maintains silence and keeps a low profile for several months.

Now, her political style cannot afford to remain stagnant; she must be active in politics at all times. Due to the Sharif family's traditional practices, remote control lies with Mian Nawaz Sharif. In many respects, this could be considered a positive development. However, even after assuming the powerful position of Chief Minister of Punjab, will control still rest with her father?

Maryam Nawaz lacks governance experience; whether she can manage Punjab's millions of people and its unwieldy police and bureaucracy with her limited experience remains to be seen. It will be a test of her abilities.

The biggest political challenge at the moment is what Imran Khan will do. The PML-N has yet to provide any conclusive statement on this issue. Will Maryam continue the PML-N's program of suppressing the PTI, filing cases against them, and imprisoning them, as in the past, or will she seek a new path of reconciliation and compromise?

It is good that more than half of society's population is represented by women in this male-dominated society, but leading a cabinet, assembly, and secretaries dominated by men will be a challenge for them.

 Every individual's freedom is important; every individual has the right to choose their attire. However, there is a difference in the attire of working women and ordinary women. Begum Nusrat Bhutto turned her attire into working women's attire by adding a white shawl and coat. In the last year of her life, Begum Fatima Jinnah wore a white and cream suit and dupatta. Begum Nusrat Bhutto and Begum Raana Liaquat Ali Khan wore saris. Maryam Nawaz Sharif will also have to give her dress a touch of working women.

 Maryam Nawaz as Chief Minister is not only a new political experiment for Punjab but also for the Sharif family. While she has excelled in political rhetoric, can she demonstrate the same governance as her father and uncle? The Sharif family's political future hinges on Maryam Nawaz's performance. If she can unravel the tangled web of politics and break the spell of the PTI, her future and that of her family are bright.

However, if she fails to deliver, the fate of the PML-N in Punjab could resemble that of the PPP. Currently, the Sharif family has placed all their political eggs in Maryam's basket. Let's see what emerges from this.

The writer is an award winning investigative journalist who covers politics, economy and militancy. He can be reached on X @HassanNaqvi5. 

Hassan Naqvi is an investigative journalist based in Lahore who previously served as Web Editor, Daily Times. Follow him on Twitter 


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