Maryam’s return

Tough challenges lie ahead

PML(N) Senior Vice-President Maryam Nawaz returned to Pakistan after nearly four months in London, where she not only spent time with her father, Mian Nawaz Sharif, but cemented her position as his political heir by being appointed the party’s chief organizer. That made it inevitable that her London sojourn would be in the nature of a vacation from the problems that await her. The most immediate challenge will be the elections the party has to contest, to two provincial assemblies, and to the 112 National Assembly seats in all provinces that have been declared vacant consequent upon the acceptance of PTI members’ resignations. While the date for the provincial elections has yet to be given by the respective Governors, the Election Commission of Pakistan has already announced March 16 for the 34 seats whose MNAs’ resignations were accepted on January 17. The remaining resignations were accepted on January 20 and 25, allowing the ECP to hold those by-elections a little later. Thus the by-elections will be more like general elections, especially if the provincial elections are held anytime soon. Opposing Maryam will be a rampant PTI, eager for a return to the power it held less in a year ago.

Ms Nawaz’s tools to deal with this will depend on whether she can gain control of the party. Her being her father’s right-hand woman was swallowed, but the party’s leadership seems a little less willing to accept her as their boss. Already, former PM Shahid Khaqan Abbassi and former Finance Minister Miftah Ismail seem to have marked themselves as potential centres of opposition. Wresting control of the party from all of the ‘uncles’ in the middle of the campaign is a major challenge.

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It does no help that one of the ‘uncles’ is not just President of the party, but as her father’s brother, very literally an uncle. It also does not help that she has chosen to defend the record of another, literally an uncle by virtue of being her sister’s father-in-law, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. She showed awareness that the economy, especially inflation, would be her main electoral challenge, in her address to the workers who welcomed her, but her solution, that Senator Dar was to be trusted a little while longer, might give raise o the suspicion that she had not really worked out a solution to this particular problem.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected]


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