Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has stepped down from his position as the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Senior Vice President, The News, a Pakistani English language newspaper, reported on Wednesday.
According to sources, Abbasi said he had told Nawaz Sharif three years back that it would be hard for him to work with Maryam Nawaz if she was elevated to the position of Senior Vice President of the party.
While responding to a question, the former prime minister dispelled the impression that he had lobbied for any general at the time of COAS appointment or for the former Army chief's extension.
To another query, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said he had not communicated with Maryam Nawaz since her return from London.
Abbasi said that he had stepped down from the party office in an hour after the announcement of Maryam Nawaz's appointment as senior vice president.
He clarified that he would remain a part of the PMLN until his last breath unless the party decided to part ways with him. In that case, I'll prefer going home, he said.
The former prime minister said that for now, he will work on his “Reimagining Pakistan” forum for the betterment of the country. He reiterated that the forum was not a political party.
The top leadership of the PMLN is uneasy at the new role granted to party supremo’s daughter Maryam Nawaz.
The party stalwart and a popular leader among the masses was made the senior vice president and chief organiser on Jan 4.
According to the notification released by the ruling party, Maryam has officially become the second-most powerful leader after Shehbaz Sharif, party’s president and the incumbent prime minister of the country.
PMLN sources say that the party wasn’t taken into confidence about Maryam's accession to the position, and that several members in the top cadre were uneasy about it.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a senior leader termed the decision non-democratic, saying it will only result in more control of the family on the party.
Another senior leader criticised the earlier appointment of PM Shehbaz Sharif's son Hamza Shehbaz as Punjab chief minister, while Khawaja Saad Rafique and Malik Ahmed Khan were suitable candidates for the role.
Political analysts say the appointment iss a token gesture and no more. “It is too little too late,” said Zaigham Khan, in the Naya Daur TV’s flagship programme Khabar Se Aagay. “Her appointment will not make a difference within the party. The ongoing crisis of succession in the party has not been resolved,” he added.
“She should have been appointed the president of the party and entrusted with absolute authority, as the successor of Nawaz Sharif. This new position bestowed upon her means nothing,” said Khan.
For a long time, people have seen Maryam as the obvious successor of Nawaz Sharif. She has reflected her father’s charisma and crowd appeal. Yet, she has failed to emerge as a commendable force in the party.
But, perhaps, her appointment sends out a signal to the “uncles” and “cousins” within the party — that they may soon be rendered redundant or reinvent their role on the stage of PMLN politics.