Friday May 28 2021
Web Desk

Shahbaz vs Maryam: Cracks appear within PML-N over party leadership, say sources

Web Desk

  • Maryam Nawaz group within PML-N wants to move forward with Nawaz Sharif's narrative, say sources. 
  • Shahbaz wants PML-N to hold dialogue with state institutions, Opposition parties. 
  • Shahbaz wants Maryam to desist from criticising establishment, say sources. 

The gulf in the PML-N leadership seems to be widening as two separate groups in the party appear to support opposing stances when it comes to matters concerning leadership and other political issues. 

When contacted, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz categorically denied there were any "two camps" in the party, adding that she stands with her uncle, PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif as well as her father, Nawaz Sharif. 

Veteran journalist and anchor Shahzeb Khanzada said during his show ‘Aaj Khanzada Kay Sath’ that the group in the party being led by Maryam wants to move forward with her father's narrative. 

On the other hand, another group that favours Shahbaz's stance of reconciliation, is backing the younger Sharif's stance of reconciliation with the PPP and the powers that be, to win the general elections 2023. 

Sources said the PML-N leadership is quite anxious as the gulf deepens between the two opposing camps and the party can disintegrate if the differences are not resolved. 

Khanzada, citing sources, said the party's senior leadership wanted Shahbaz to be given a "free hand" to hold dialogue with members of state institutions and define their limits. 

Another bone of contention between the two leaders is, as per sources, the issue of the PPP leaving the PDM.  Shahbaz has taken exception to the rigid stance adopted by Maryam and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on the issue. 

As per sources, Shahbaz had been displeased over how the issue was handled and wondered why the PPP was pressurised if it was not in favour of resigning from the assemblies. 

Who would lead the party?

Quoting sources, Khanzada said Shahbaz wanted to go to London to have a face-to-face conversation with his elder brother, to convince him to take a final decision as to who would lead the party and ultimately, be its candidate for the next prime minister. 

He also wanted Nawaz to finalise the party's narrative. The former Punjab chief minister, as per sources, wants Maryam to step back from her anti-establishment narrative and desist from political activities for the time being. If Shahbaz gets the free hand to pursue his narrative, it is expected that he may hold a dialogue with Opposition parties. Otherwise, sources said, it is feared he may quit politics. 

Sources said differences between the two groups have intensified after Shahbaz was released on bail as his supporters believe Maryam does not understand politics, despite the fact that she is a "crowd puller". 

The Shahbaz group within the PML-N believes he is the right choice to lead the party and must hold dialogue with all stakeholders. 

Maryam admits difference of opinion exists

When contacted, Maryam admitted that there was a difference of opinion over the narrative. However, she made it clear that she is following Nawaz's narrative, adding that it would ultimately prevail. The PML-N vice president said she was never against talks with institutions, but doesn’t believe in coming to power through a deal.

When asked to comment on the power tussle within the party, PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal told Khanzada that there was no grouping in the party, and all members are united on Nawaz's leadership. He said on any issue within the party, the decision taken by Nawaz will be considered final. 

Ahsan Iqbal insisted that political opponents were just creating storm in a teacup. He asked Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed to focus on law and order instead of bringing out ‘Sheen’ from ‘Noon’. 

Meanwhile, Shahbaz said in an interview with a private news channel that he can even fall at Nawaz Sharif’s feet when it comes to national interest.

The former Punjab chief minister said the country cannot move forward with confrontation, and consultation is the only way forward. 

He said difference of opinion exists in democratic societies but one should not be enslaved by the past.