As the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) continues to draw large crowds in Punjab, the possibility that the party will manage to form government after the February 8 elections grows. But if the PML-N does win, the question arises: which Sharif will be elected prime minister?
This was discussed in the latest episode of Naya Daur TV's show Khabar Say Aagay.
The PML-N has seen three prime ministers emerge from the party, with party supremo Nawaz Sharif having served in the prime minister's hot seat thrice. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who is not contesting the February 8 elections, took over after Nawaz was ousted from power in 2017.
In 2022, former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif took over as prime minister after Imran Khan was voted out in a vote of no confidence.
With two prime ministers already in the family and the PML-N presenting Maryam as the true successor to Nawaz, would they also hand her the prime minister's seat, making her only the second woman in Pakistan's history to become the premier?
In the show, senior journalist Aamir Ilyas Rana explained that fellow journalist Kashif Abbasi believed that Nawaz seems uninterested in becoming the prime minister for a record fourth term due to his short speech in Hafizabad.
Rana said that the party leader never explicitly expresses a desire to be the prime minister and that others always talk about that. He added that after being disqualified, he nominated Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as the prime minister. Then, when the opportunity presented itself again, he nominated Shehbaz Sharif for the hot seat.
He said that in Hafizabad, no other senior PML-N leader, especially among Shehbaz and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, was present, so Maryam Nawaz was asked to make a speech.
Moreover, he said that just because Maryam is also contesting for provincial assembly elections, many have presumed that she will be vying for the chief minister's seat.
Drawing parallels with Benazir Bhutto, who completed an internship in the foreign office and saw her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, work, Rana said that Maryam ran the media cell from the PM House and attended key meetings when Nawaz last served as the prime minister.
Rana said that by having Maryam Nawaz sit in on important meetings, a clear signal had been given that she was to be his political successor. At one point, Hamza Shahbaz was considered for that role, but that did not pan out, and his sons were never interested in politics.
If, in this country, you can have the father as the prime minister and the son as the chief minister at the same time, going forward, you can also expect the father to be the president and the daughter to be the prime minister. Still, it will depend on the number of votes you get.
On Imran Khan threatening a second May 9, which was Plan-C, Rana said this was a sign of Imran's frustration. When Imran learned a camera was fixed in the court, he remarked: "Colonel, I know you are listening."
"On the first day of the cipher case, when three journalists were in the courtroom, and some other men were made to sit in the audience, and a commoner came in to sit in on the hearing, Imran asked which regiment you belong to?"
Rana explained that he knew the guy whom Imran had asked that question and that he was a student of law and had nothing whatsoever to do with the military. He added that Imran is still obsessed with the military, which helped run the parliament for him, and he can't move past May 9.
While the state did not respond to him on May 9, but it has been resolved that if anyone attacks the state, there will be no sanctuary for them.
On Imran's statements that he has been open to talks for 18 months, but no one has approached him, Rana said that Imran wants to get back into power by any means necessary. He knows that today he is popular amongst the masses, but the powers that be are not agreed upon, which is why he says he has been waiting for talks for 18 months. But a decision has been made by the other side as well that there will not be any talks, which is why he and his party are out of elections.
Asked whether there would come a time in the future when the doors would open for Imran, Rana said that you cannot repeat threats about another May 9 while also seeking talks for a way back; this cannot go hand in hand.
He added that one can expect a lot of developments in the days leading up to February 8, with many key cases against PTI to be decided.
Nawaz's short speech
Dispelling speculation surrounding Nawaz Sharif's short speech in Hafizabad, Mubasher Bukhari explained that he had travelled via helicopter. But Nawaz could not stay for long as the fog starts to creep back after 4pm in Punjab, and prevents the helicopter from flying back to Lahore.
Hence, they had to leave early.
On Imran Khan, he said that the former prime minister is quite gullible and would listen to the person who tells him something first and does not believe what he hears from those who come after.
Court reporter Saqib Bashir said that often, those who are in power do not want cases made for major issues, but if they want, even small cases are hyped up.
On the nikkah in the iddat case, Bashir said that the prosecution had been asked to present evidence.
He added that previously, it appeared that this case could have been decided before February 8, but now it does not appear it would be completed by then.
Regarding Imran's comments regarding Khawar Maneka and that it was a below-the-belt case, Bashir pointed out that Imran was quite aggressive when making those remarks.
On the removal of Latif Khosa as Imran Khan's lawyer, Bashir said that he saw Latif Khosa interacting with Imran Khan in good spirits as he continued to fight two cases for Imran.