Children of the country’s leading political figures have decided to step out of their parents’ shadows and make a name for themselves.
On Thursday, Maryam Nawaz, daughter of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif and wife of PML-N MNA Capt (Retd) Safdar, made her political debut while addressing a women’s convention.
The 38-year-old defended her family against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan’s ‘asset declaration’ campaign. Standing up for her father, Maryam said had Nawaz completed his second term, he would have made Pakistan an economic power at par with Malaysia, Turkey and Singapore.
Confident and composed, the up-and-coming politician drew applause from her audience.
Seasoned PML-N observers were of the view that Maryam was a far better option than Hamza Shahbaz, son of the Punjab chief minister.
“Maryam’s stepping out for her family and taking on a political role means Nawaz Sharif is not at all happy with the conduct and performance of Hamza Shahbaz, whom he groomed himself for a future political role,” said Mujibur Rehman Shami, a leading columnist and political commentator, said.
Hamza, 40, has been rocked by a succession of scandals recently. He was alleged to have amassed billions through speculative trading in the poultry industry.
His problems were compounded when Ayesha Ahad Malik claimed she was Hamza’s legitimate wife.
“Hamza’s conduct has become a liability. Nawaz Sharif is certainly not happy with him and wants to replace him with a fresh face from the family. Thus, Maryam Nawaz,” Shami said.
However, a bureaucrat close to these developments told The Express Tribune that Hamza was still calling the shots in Lahore. Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had given him the responsibility to look after development work and political affairs in Lahore.
“We are watching another family development as well. Salman Shahbaz, Hamza’s younger brother, who has been involved in the family business has also stepped out into the open. So now it will be interesting to watch who takes the lead – Maryam, Hamza or Shahbaz,” Shami said.
“If we look at the whole scenario, the younger Sharifs are stepping out in the public eye at a time when the PML-N is being squeezed by Imran Khan’s onslaught in central urban Punjab,” Shami added.
Before the Sharifs were in exile in Saudi Arabia, Nawaz was carefully grooming his elder son Hussain Nawaz for a future in politics. However, certain personal problems within the family caused him to be sidelined.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 10th, 2011.