Maryam awaits SS return to break her silence

February 27, 2020

With the federal government taking a firm position of disallowing Maryam Nawaz to go abroad the daughter of the former Prime Minister awaits her uncle, Shahbaz Sharif's return in March before she...

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With the federal government taking a firm position of disallowing Maryam Nawaz to go abroad the daughter of the former Prime Minister awaits her uncle, Shahbaz Sharif's return in March before she 'breaks her silence,' which may usher some drastic changes in PML(N) politics.

The Prime Minister has clearly stated that under no circumstances any rules will be relaxed for Maryam's travel abroad. On the other hand, according to sources, Shahbaz Sharif too is fast losing hope of any 'reconciliation' bringing to an end his long stay in London. The junior Sharif is likely to return home by the last week of March, unless something dramatic happens. Maryam's 'silence' has more to do with the change of PML (N) politics rather any 'deal' with those who matter and Shahbaz Sharif despite his efforts has failed in making any 'breakthrough.' His own son, Hamza Shahbaz is facing serious cases and he has now lost all hopes of any 'patch up.' A well-informed source disclosed that Maryam's adopted the low profile after her father Nawaz Sharif was released from jail and went to London for treatment, but her 'silence' has a lot more to do with Shahbaz's politics of 'reconciliation.' But time has come up to change that and now there will be a new leaf in the politics of PML-N. The PML(N) has not yet shown its cards ever since it withdrew from the JUI's Azadi March shedding the confrontationist posture. In the next three months, the, PML (N) politics was reduced to more of a torturous' wait and see game.'

"You will soon know why she was silent when she will break her silence. It has nothing to do with Nawaz Sharif's treatment abroad or her release but, it was the manifestation of has PML(N) internal political dynamics," an authoritative party insider said. Had there been a 'deal' with those who matter the PTI government could not have stopped her from going abroad. Asked if what both Nawaz Sharif and Maryam lose the legal battle, will it usher an end to their politics, the PML (N) leader affirmed the fear saying, "it may bring an end to PML (N) and would be a victory for selectors and their selection team."

The PML-N-PPP ties do not look rosy either at least at this point in time, particularly following the PPP Chairman, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari's jibe at Nawaz Sharif, calling him 'selected' and rubbing Shahbaz and PML (N) the wrong way. This has also turned bleak the chances of Maryam-Bilawal meeting in the immediate new future.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, whose statement is being seen as some kind of a shift in the PPP's post-2018 politics. Bilawal is eyeing a comeback in Punjab by holding a number of party conventions and public meetings in Faisalabad in the coming weeks.

However, both these leaders of the mainstream opposition parties are facing a serious dilemma to carry on with their legacy. Both, Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari are not only seriously ill but still have not been 'cleared' from the courts of law. The former's fate depends on the outcome of his appeal against the conviction and disqualification and the latter is facing reference in fake bank accounts. The same holds true for Maryam and Bilawal. Maryam's political fate is linked to her appeal from the Supreme Court while Bilawal is also not been cleared by the National Accountability Bureau. Bilawal's legal team preparing a reply to the questionnaire handed over to him by NAB during his last appearance. Many feel that the timing of Bilawal's attack on Sharif, did not go well with the opposition circles even when it is historically correct that Sharif in the '80s was introduced into politics to counter the PPP by late General Zia ul Haq.

Bilawal's broadside must have pleased some PPP stalwarts like Ch. Aitzaz Ahsan, who has always been very critical of Sharifs but, could this help the PPP or Bilawal, particularly at a time when the PML (N) leadership is at the receiving end, facing arrests and cases. Bilawal's criticism of Sharifs' absence and the remarks of 'selected' has also pleased the ruling PTI leadership as it was praised by PTI leaders and Federal Ministers like Ms Firdous Ashiq Awan and Fawad Ch. The PML (N) leadership gave a guarded reaction but was disappointed as they believe that his statement would not help to bridge the PML(N) and PPP gap and also termed it a violation of the Charter of Democracy, COD. " It seems as someone else had asked Bilawal to attack the PML (N) leadership if the PPP really wants to regain its position in Punjab. He is more than welcome but should remember that it was not PML (N) but PTI, which had snatched the PPP's vote bank. Our vote bank is very much intact," said another PML (N). The " PML (N) would not like to create further cracks in the opposition's ranks and file but, will advise the young PPP Chairman to search for the party's own failures within PPP instead of raising questions about our leadership." However, PPP senior leader, Qamarzaman Kaira tried to mend the damage, Bilawal's statement was misunderstood. It was a political statement as the PPP has its own political identity, politics and policy. Yet Bilawal's attack, was the sharpest since 2015, when he formally made his debut during a public meeting in Karachi, in which he criticised former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif and MQM founder, Altaf Hussain, but, was later stopped by the party Co-Chairman, Asif Ali Zardari for taking such a strong stance against both.

PPP, had suffered one of its worst defeats in Punjab in 2013 and 2018 elections. The party, which once used to have a strong base in Southern Punjab, in particular, suffered both at the hands of PML (N) and PTI. The top leadership of the PPP, in one of its marathon meetings in Dubai, in 2015, had advised senior Zardari to step down as party Co-Chairman and completely empower Bilawal. He was also advised to name some senior member as President of Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarian, PPP-P after the death of Makhdoom Amin Fahim. However, Zardari sb retained both the positions. He is currently facing a case of 'Benami accounts,' allegedly worth billions of rupees, a charge he has denied.

It appears as if the PPP high command of Punjab, has advised Bilawal, that if the party really wants to make a come back in Punjab before theLB elections, which PTI government in no mood to hold this year, it has to attack both, PTI and PML (N), but what the party needs all the more is to give a counter-narrative to herald a new beginning in the largest province. Both Bilawal and Maryam, are haunted by their 'controversial' legacies with which Prime Minister, Imran Khan finds it easy to attack both Sharifs and Zardari.

The only advantage if the opposition can cash on, is the failure of the government to address the issues concerning the common men. Can Bilawal's attack on Sharif, help PPP more than benefitting the PTI. We may see some interesting political developments in the next few weeks.

The writer is a senior columnist and analyst of GEO, The News and Jang

Twitter: MazharAbbasGEO

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