- Opposition must be full-blooded
The PML-N has found that one of the disadvantages of having not just eponymous founder Nawaz Sharif, but also party President Mian Shehbaz Sharif in London is that meetings have to take place there. The party leadership was taken into confidence on the key issues of the COAS’s extension kerfuffle and the Chief Election Commissioner’s appointment, but the assurance that there would be a change of government soon, and that there would then be snap elections does not sound all that realistic in London, because it is in Pakistan that the PML-N should be carrying out opposition to the PTI government. If the PML-N hopes to provide a viable alternative, it is to be done in Pakistan.
One issue seems to be the fact that PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif will have to face more NAB cases when he returns to the country, though he obtained bail in the ones he had been arrested in. He might find it more comfortable to remain in London, holding meetings in restaurants, but it is in Pakistan that he can manage better to retain control of the party as well as better oppose the government. There might be attendant risks, but those will have to be taken.
PML-N Vice-President Maryam Nawaz, who is vying for the control of the party, has signalled that her hat is still in the ring by applying to the Lahore High Court for her name to be removed from the Exit Control List. The reason is apparently that she wants to join her father abroad, but it might well be a final departure from a scene on which she has already been silent ever since she was bailed in her latest NAB case. If she goes to the UK with any degree of permanence, she will be departing the country’s politics at least for as long as she is away. If she is made to remain, she will continue to play the silent role she has had to adopt. If she does go the UK, the father-daughter nexus, which has prevented him from gaining as much control of the party as he would like, may be re-established, but abroad, leaving him free to steer the party the way he wants. Whatever the case, the party needs a firm hand at the tiller, which the family’s tribulations have stopped it from getting.