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Maryam's Next Stop: Pakistan PM?

February 27, 2024 09:41 IST
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IMAGE: Nawaz Sharif speaks, flanked by his daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shehbaz Sharif, at the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) party office at Model Town in Lahore, February 9, 2024. Photograph: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters

Nawaz Sharif had hoped to become Pakistan's prime minister again after the February 8, 2024 election, but his party, the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), which was backed by the Pakistan military, was pushed into second place by Independents owing allegiance to Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party.

Disappointed by the election result and unwilling to head a coalition government with the Pakistan Peoples Party, Nawaz Sharif stepped aside for his younger brother Shehbaz Sharif to be prime minister.

In return, he wanted his daughter Maryam to be chief minister of Punjab, a province that has long dominated politics and the military in Pakistan.

On Monday, February 26, 2024, Maryam who turned 50 on October 28, 1973, took the oath as Punjab's first woman chief minister.

Clearly, her father hopes that a successful tenure in Lahore will give Maryam the ballast to be prime minister after the next general election.



IMAGE: Maryam with Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman, president of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal, at a protest outside Pakistan's supreme court in Islamabad May 15, 2023, to protest against the granting of bail to Pakistan's former prime minister Imran Khan.
With her father then tucked away in London and her uncle Shehbaz hobbled by numerous cases, Maryam spearheaded the PML (N)'s campaign against Imran Khan, giving her visibility and prominence in her country's male dominated politics. Photograph: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters


IMAGE: Maryam, seen her with her cousin Hamza Shehbaz Sharif and Fazal-ur Rehman, at an anti-government rally in Islamabad March 28, 2022, after the national assembly -- Pakistan's parliament -- took up a no-confidence motion against then prime minister Imran Khan.
Maryam married one of her father's bodyguards Captain Muhammad Safdar Awan, when she was just 19, and has a son and two daughters; Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended her daughter Mehr-un-Nisa's marriage on December 25, 2015. Photograph: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters


IMAGE: Maryam's appointment as chief minister scuttles for now her cousin Hamza's ascent in Pakistan politics.
Hamza, Shehbaz Sharif's son, was seen as the brother Sharifs' political heir till Maryam -- seen here at an anti-Imran Khan in Peshawar November 22, 2020 -- plunged into politics in 2012, rising rapidly, assisted by her father's backing. Photograph: Fayaz Aziz/Reuters


IMAGE: Maryam and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party, right, at an anti-Imran Khan government protest rally in Karachi October 18, 2020.
Bilawal, who is 15 years younger than Maryam, is also a future prime ministerial candidate.
He will be foreign minister in Shehbaz Sharif's government and hopes to use that perch to impress the electorate just as his grandfather Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto did when he was foreign minister in the 1960s. Photograph: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters


IMAGE: As chief minister, Maryam Nawaz -- seen here at an anti-Imran Khan government protest in Peshawar November 22, 2020 -- will need to be discreet.
Wikipedia cites several instances of indiscretion including one where she was heard telling Shehbaz Sharif to order machinery for her son-in-law from India (!), a request her uncle turned down, saying it would be used by then PM Imran Khan against him and the Sharif family. Photograph: Fayaz Aziz/Reuters


IMAGE: Maryam -- at a countrywide protest against Imran Khan's government in Quetta July 25, 2019 -- has a tough make or break job ahead, to prove her credentials as Punjab's chief minister.
'My father trained me how to run the office,' Maryam told the Punjab assembly on Monday, February 26, 2024. 'Today, every woman of the province is proud to see a woman chief minister.' Photograph: Naseer Ahmed/Reuters


IMAGE: Maryam -- seen here with her father at a news conference in Lahore, July 24, 2019 -- is a wealthy woman -- Wikipedia noted that she had assets worth Rs 845 million in 2018.
She also featured in the Panama Papers along with her brothers, Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz. Photograph: Mohsin Raza/Reuters


IMAGE: Maryam at a news conference at a hotel in London, July 11, 2018, addressed by her father (not seen). Nawaz Sharif's other children -- Asma, Hassan and Hussain -- have steered clear of active involvement in politics; the sons run the Sharif business empire. Photograph: Hannah McKay/Reuters


IMAGE: Maryam, Pakistan's Dawn newspaper noted, is 'known for her biting rhetoric and ability to both pull and rouse a crowd.'
Pakistan has had a woman prime minister before -- Benazir Bhutto, who was tragically assassinated in December 2007.
Unlike Benazir, who was educated at Oxford, Maryam -- seen here speaking to the media after appearing before a joint investigation team investigating the Sharif family's wealth in Islamabad, July 5, 2017 -- was educated in Pakistan, and Wikipedia notes there's considerable controversy about the authenticity of her degrees. Photograph: Faisal Mahmood/Reuters


IMAGE: Maryam and her aunt Nusrat Shehbaz, her uncle Shehbaz Sharif's wife, flash victory signs as they leave court in Karachi, April 6, 2000.
Nawaz Sharif was then sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of terrorism and hijacking while Shehbaz and five others were acquitted on all charges.
Nawaz was later exiled to Saudi Arabia; Maryam is said to have become fluent in Arabic during her stay in Riyadh with her parents. Photograph: Zahid Hussein/Reuters


IMAGE: After her father was arrested by General Pervez Musharraf after the October 12, 1999 coup, Maryam became the spokesperson for her family.
Both Maryam and her mother Begum Kulsum Nawaz, seen here with her daughter in Karachi April 6, 2000, were then placed under house arrest for four months. Photograph: Zahid Hussein/Reuters


Photographs curated by Manisha Kotian/
Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/

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