The former PM embarked on the three-day GT road rally aimed at amassing public support to apply pressure on the SC verdict. But, the rally ultimately ended up creating more controversies. Many prominent analysts claim that rally was unable to garner adequate show of public support. The unfortunate demise of a child who was run over by an Elite force vehicle ignited more criticisms. The former PM was also charged with contempt of court as he criticized the judgement on several occasions throughout the rally.
However, the most controversial aspect of the rally was the absence of several key PML-N leaders- especially Chaudhry Nisar. Some reports even claim that Sharif’s convoy supposedly sped up while passing Nisar’s constituency in Pindi- indicating internal tensions. Nisar on his part tried to dispel rumors of rifts and pointed out that many leaders were absent. However, many believe that the PML-N inner rift is ‘inevitable’ at this point primarily because it carries ‘the establishments’ blueprint at its core, and thus Nawaz’s current rhetoric against key state institutions is likely to deter some key PML-N members to continue offering their allegiance to such rebellious stances. Furthermore, it didn’t help matters when Shehbaz Sharifs wife took to twitter her own set of criticisms, highlighting inner family rifts.
The discourses in relation to PML-N revolve around inner party and inner family rifts- which many believe are interlinked. Initial speculations suggested that Shahbaz would likely contest for the vacant NA-120 seat and eventually replace Abbasi as PM. But, for now it has been stated that Abbasi is likely continue his term till 2018 and Shehbaz would continue focusing on Punjab as ‘it’s too important of a province’. But, many believe that behind this pretext lies Maryam Nawaz’s adamancy to position her or Kulsoom Nawaz for NA-120. As Shahbaz’s succession to premiership would translate to strengthening Hamza’s hold on Punjab and ultimately tilt the balance of power in favor of the ‘other side of the family’.
Yet at the same time, Maryam’s leadership is believed by many to be one of the root causes of inner party rifts. Senior PML-N leadership hold her responsible for recklessness in ‘triggering key institutes’ and therefore many members- including Nisar- instead support Shahbaz to hold the reins as they see him as a more seasoned politician.
Hamza Shahbaz’s exit from the country amidst preparations for NA-120 campaign has further heightened speculations of family feuds. The party also remained in disarray over selecting the new president. Sardar Muhammad Yaqoob Khan’s selection faced criticism from many party members like Saad Rafiq and Nisar – who publicly voiced their objections. However, a few days later it was announced that Shahbaz would likely take over as the new party president in September.
Apart from family feuds and party rifts, one cannot overlook the plethora of cases filed against the Sharif Brothers. For now PML-N’s future seems precarious.