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November 2017 Edition of Power Politics is updated.  Happy Diwali to all our subscribers and Distributors       November 2017 Edition of Power Politics is updated.   Happy Diwali to all our subscribers and Distributors       
Issue:Sep' 2017


Sharif v Sharif

Nawaz Sharif Shahbaz Sharif

Syed Nooruzzaman

Maryam Nawaz Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who had to resign in July after he was disqualified for 10 years to hold any public office by his country's Supreme Court in the much-publicised Panama Papers case, is working overtime to become the kingmaker, if not the king (head of government) himself. He and his family members, along with his supporters within the Pakistan Muslim League (N) or the PML-N for short, are busy these days to ensure that either he or his daughter Maryam, the eldest of his three children, remains the head of the party when the next general elections are held there in 2018 as scheduled.
He wishes to promote his daughter to become a major claimant to the post of Prime Minister since he has little chance of regaining the position he has lost. But this is a herculean task, as Nawaz Sharif's idea has strong opponents within the PML (N) at this stage.
Among these opponents is his own brother, Shahbaz Sharif, though he has been seen cowering in the presence of his elder brother out of respect.
Shahbaz and a sizeable section of the party's rank and file believe that under the prevailing circumstances he is the most suitable candidate for the Prime Minister's position, provided his party wins the coming parliamentary (National Assembly) elections. The younger Sharif's camp is of the view that his elder son Hamza is fully qualified to replace his father as Punjab Chief Minister once Shahbaz succeeds in becoming Prime Minister after the 2018 polls.
After all, Shahbaz has established his credentials as a good administrator during his rule as Chief Minister. The PML-N is in a very strong position to trounce the opposition parties, including Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf and the Asif Zardari-led PPP, in at least Punjab in the coming polls, mainly because of the performance of the Shahbaz Sharif government. The Shahbaz camp in the PML-N is prepared to go to any extent to

Imran Khan ensure that he gets elevated as the next Prime Minister of Pakistan.
There is a sea difference between the approach of the two brothers to any issue confronting Pakistan, particularly with regard to dealing with what is called the Establishment --- the army and the bureaucracy.
While the elder Sharif has acquired the image of being a confrontationist, the younger Sharif is well known for his pragmatist policies for handling any issue. Nawaz Sharif's tenure as Prime Minister has been cut short by the judiciary using the Panama Papers case as he has many detractors in this institution owing to his confrontationist approach.
The all-powerful Pakistan army, too, reportedly disliked Nawaz Sharif's style of functioning though he tried to keep it in good humour by allowing former Chief of Army Staff Gen Pervez Musharraf, who captured power by overthrowing Nawaz in a bloodless coup, to escape the clutches of law by going abroad on the pretext of getting treatment for some "major illness".

Gen Pervez Musharraf Yet the fact remains that Nawaz Sharif continues to be the most popular politician in Pakistan owing to his achievements on various fronts, including the economy.
The PML-N has every chance of recapturing power after the 2018 elections in case it fights the polls under the leadership of the senior Sharif. A split in the PML-N, because of the differences between the two Sharifs, if at all it comes about, will only go in favour of the opposition parties, mainly the PPP and the PTI. But most observers of the Pakistan political scene are of the view that the pragmatist in Shahbaz Sharif will always try to maintain unity in his party at all costs.
Shahbaz, being an acknowledged practitioner of pragmatism, must be fully aware of the fact that the PML-N can succeed in trouncing the other parties in the coming elections only if it contest the polls as a cohesive and united political force. He is not expected to take his fight for grabbing the Prime Minister's position to the extent of jeopardising the future of his party. He might be already discussing quietly with Nawaz Sharif and other senior leaders about how to find a workable solution to the Hamza-vs-Maryam problem.
Both have been nursing high ambitions owing to the patronage of the senior Sharif they have enjoyed at different stages. Reports have it that at one time (till the 2013 elections) Nawaz Sharif was very fond of Hamza and wanted to groom him to become the top leader of the PML-N and a future claimant to the post of Prime Minister. He then made it clear that Maryam was not interested in a political career. But something happened after 2013 and his nephew got replaced by his daughter in Nawaz Sharif's scheme of things for his party.
After all, filial feelings are too powerful to be ignored by anyone. So, the third position in the PML-N hierarchy has gone to Maryam Nawaz as the si tuat ion prevai ls today, but Hamza has not taken it as fait accompli .
Hamza recent ly expressed the view during an interview with Geo TV that the future of democracy in Pakistan can be ensured only by relying on pragmatism as practised by his father, Shahbaz, and not by pursuing a Nawaz Sharif-style confrontationist policy.
Hamza has been arguing (may be, at the behest of his father) that any at tempt to establ ish civi l ian supremacy (Nawaz Shari f 's latest objective) by belittling the role of the army in the formulation of major policies will not be in the long- term interest of Pakistan as well as the PML-N.
But Nawaz Shari f is not prepared to listen to anyone on the issue of civi l ian supremacy. If he manages to successfully handle the cases against him in the Nat ional Accountability Bureau, headed by Justice Javed Iqbal (retd), the PML-N under the former Prime Minister may contest the 2018 elect ions wi th civi l ian supremacy being on top of its agenda.
This may help the PML-N win the elect ions wi th a comfortable majori ty in the Nat ional Assembly again. In such a scenario, the pressure on the army to confine itself to its constitutional role is bound to increase.
How the Pakistan army reacts to such a denouement will be interesting to watch.