Challenging task for Shahbaz

THE leadership crisis that surrounded the ruling PML (N) has smoothly been overcome with the unopposed election of Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif as permanent President of the Party at the General Council meeting in Islamabad. This is yet another demonstration that despite pressure and machinations used by some forces to cause a split in the party, it has survived in difficult circumstances.
There is general impression that Mian Shahbaz Sharif has the necessary leadership qualities to keep the Party intact and take it out of the troubled waters. He is known for reconciliatory and accommodative approach, which is a must in the political environment of the country where principles hardly matter as we also witnessed during Senate elections and election for the Offices of the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman of the Upper House. Shahbaz declaration that he is confident to address the challenges ahead successfully with the support of the Party and the masses is also an indication that he is aware of the ground realities. No doubt, Mian Nawaz Sharif would remain Quaid of the Party but things are written large on the wall as far as the ongoing references against him and his family are concerned. Two-month extension in finalisation of the proceedings of the references means that verdicts might be pronounced in May when the assemblies are going to be dissolved. That would be a crucial time as hectic lobbying and tug of war would take place for selection of caretaker Prime Minister and Chief Ministers and PML (N) would have to be in a strong position of bargaining. Similarly, with incumbent governments gone, renewed attempts might be made to weaken PML (N) and that would be the most challenging period for Mian Shahbaz Sharif. He will have to work hard not only to strengthen the Party but also launch an effective campaign in the face of expected frontal attacks by political opponents to pressurise Sharif family. We hope PML (N) would learn from past mistakes and future decisions and strategy would be made through collective decisions.

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