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Nawaz Sharif given two options by Pak army; either PM post or Punjab CM slot for daughter Maryam: Sources

Nawaz Sharif sacrificed his ambition to become the Pakistan prime minister for the fourth time for his daughter Maryam, sources said, adding that he was given two options by the Pakistani army -- either to become premier or leave it to make his daughter CM of Punjab province.

Ashesh Mallick Edited By: Ashesh Mallick @asheshmallick07 Lahore Published on: February 17, 2024 17:57 IST
Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, pakistan, pakistan army, PMLN, Pakistan general elections
Image Source : AP Pakistan's former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz

PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif let go of his ambition to become Pakistan’s prime minister for a record fourth term and instead nominated his younger brother Shehbaz Sharif for the top post as the powerful army offered him two options – either to choose premiership or sacrifice it to make way for his daughter to become the chief minister of Punjab, according to party insiders on Saturday (February 17). The announcement of Shehbaz Sharif as the next prime minister by Nawaz triggered an internal debate among the PML-N ranks who are questioning why the 74-year-old three-time prime minister was “sidelined” despite the earlier declaration on his premiership.

Sources in the PML-N told the Press Trust of India that Nawaz Sharif decided to pull himself back from the race for the prime minister’s office for his daughter and political heir, Maryam Nawaz, 50.

"Nawaz Sharif could have become the prime minister to lead the coalition government for the fourth time but then his daughter would have no chance to become the Punjab chief minister. For the love of his daughter, Nawaz sacrificed his wish to become prime minister for the fourth time,” a party insider said.

Pakistani army's choices

According to sources, Nawaz Sharif was given two choices by the Pakistani army after his party’s poor show in the February 8 general elections.

The powerful Pakistan Army, which has ruled coup-prone Pakistan for more than half of its 75-plus years of existence, has wielded considerable power in matters of security and foreign policy.

"The first was to become premier of the coalition government in Islamabad and make his younger brother Shehbaz Sharif Punjab chief minister and the other was to leave the top post for Shehbaz and have his daughter Maryam accommodated as the Punjab chief minister. Nawaz chose the second," another source said.

The source said that Shehbaz Sharif, 72, was Pakistan military’s favourite and thus Nawaz had to be sidelined by one excuse or another at the end of the day. The failure of PML-N to win a simple majority in the 266-member National Assembly gave Shehbaz Sharif’s chances over Nawaz a huge push in the race for the prime minister’s office.

This week social media was also abuzz with the PML-N's decision to nominate Shehbaz Sharif as its prime ministerial candidate.

"Pakistan ko Nawaz do (Give Nawaz to Pakistan)" was one of the top trends on X in the country showing resentment over Shehbaz Sharif's nomination.

The election campaign was led by PML-N claiming that Nawaz Sharif would be pitted as the prime ministerial candidate.

Maryam’s reaction to Nawaz Sharif’s withdrawal

Reacting to her father’s decision to withdraw himself from the top slot, Maryam on Wednesday said that it was related to PML-N not securing a clear majority in the elections. To form a government, a party must win 133 seats out of 265 contested seats in the 266-member National Assembly.

Former prime minister Imran Khan's PTI-backed independent winners lead the lower house (National Assembly) with 92 seats followed by PML-N with 80, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari's Pakistan Peoples Party with 54 and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) with 17 seats.

Maryam is now set to become the first woman chief minister of Punjab, a crucial province of over 120 million people. Shehbaz Sharif is now all set to form a six-party coalition to run the government early next month.

Pakistan general elections

According to the Election Commission of Pakistan’s tally, the total number of general seats won by these six parties comes to 152, which shows they can easily achieve the minimum required number of 169 to form the government at the Centre after the addition of 60 women and 10 minority seats in their tally.

None of the three major parties, the PML-N, the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), or the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf have won the necessary seats in the February 8 general elections to secure a majority in the National Assembly and, therefore, will be unable to form a government on their own.

(With PTI inputs)

ALSO READ | Pakistani poll official accepts 'responsibility for wrongdoing’ in Feb 8 general elections, resigns

ALSO READ | Pakistan: Nawaz Sharif nominates brother Shehbaz for PM, Maryam to become CM of Punjab province

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