LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif was unanimously named president of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s Punjab chapter on Monday but refrained from nominating a provincial general secretary and other office-bearers, apparently due to growing concerns within the party.
Shahbaz’s election increases the Sharif family’s hold on the party’s organisation as well as the Punjab government. The family already occupies ten important positions. The older Sharif, Nawaz, is the president of the party and his wife Kalsoom Nawaz looks after PML-N women’s wing.
Nawaz and Shahbaz’s half brother Senator Ishaq Dar is the PML-N’s parliamentary leader in the Senate instead of senior leader Raja Zafarul Haq. Nawaz’s son-in-law Captain Safdar has charge of the party’s youth wing while their relative Abid Sher Ali is president of Punjab youth wing. Nawaz’s daughter Maryam looks after the party’s social media network while Shahbaz’s son Hamza is de-facto chief minister of Punjab.
Shahbaz was named chief of the Punjab wing at a meeting of provincial councillors on Monday at Aiwan-e-Iqbal. As many as 1,500 people, including 1,200 councillors were present and endorsed Shahbaz’s election.
PML-N’s Sindh President Ghous Ali Shah, who chaired the party’s election cell, announced Sharif’s unopposed election. He also announced Jaffar Iqbal as the senior vice president and delegated powers to Shahbaz to himself nominate and announce the party’s general secretary.
But Shahbaz preferred to postpone the announcement as Dar, on the direction of Nawaz, forbade him.
Bifurcation of Punjab
The party had earlier decided to bifurcate the province but after strong opposition from the newly-elected senator Zulfiqar Khan Khosa, the decision was revoked.
The party was considering naming Khosa the president of the new division with Hamza being the general secretary. However, many members of the provincial assembly expressed reservations over Hamza’s nomination.
The party is holding its Punjab chapter elections after a delay of more than two years. The last time elections were held was in 2004. Office bearers are elected for a five-year term, according to the party’s constitution. In September 2009, Nawaz, instead of holding elections, had appointed provincial chief organisers. Khosa was appointed the Punjab chief organiser. In July 2011, the party elected its central office bearers, including president Nawaz.
Shahbaz has twice served as the party’s central president, once in 2002 and then in 2006, when Nawaz had been convicted in the Musharraf plane hijacking case. Since July last year, when Nawaz replaced him as central president, Shahbaz began attending party meetings without holding any party office.
Chants of ‘Go Zardari Go’
Addressing the meeting, newly-elected Shahbaz led chants of Go Zardari Go, which has become the PML-N’s mantra.
Nawaz presided over the meeting, which was also attended by latest recruit Marvi Memon.
“No one could eliminate the PML-N even during Musharraf’s regime,” Shahbaz said. “As a party worker, I will work hard from Rojhan to Attock.”
Nawaz continued to lash out at the PML-Q leadership, saying that earlier they had supported Musharraf and now, as allies, they are issuing red warrants for him. “They [Chaudhrys of Gujrat] had said that they will never sit with the Pakistan Peoples Party as it was the killer of their father. But now they are,” he said.