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LAHORE: Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif should have been spared the responsibility of protecting and assisting his own party’s rally, says his wife Tehmina Durrani.

The impassioned plea hardly augurs well for ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif who has found a critic in his own family of his decision to come to Lahore from Islamabad in a rally. Ms Durrani questions him (Nawaz) why he burdens his younger brother for “saving the day” for him.

In a series of tweets on Wednesday, Ms Durrani said it was very callous to put the chief minister in this position.

Unlike other members of the family, Ms Durrani has been quite vocal and candid on matters related to the Sharifs.

“If I were to advise Mian Nawaz Sharif Sb, I would have requested him to address the nation instead of putting a most loyal brother - Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif - in such a contradictory position. The CM Punjab should have been spared the responsibility of both protecting and assisting his own party rally. It is very callous to put him in this position,” she tweeted.

She, however, denies the impression of rift in the family. “There is no rift in the Sharif family. My past proves I speak ‘freedom’,” she added.

Unimpressed by Nawaz’s decision to put the responsibility of the rally that is likely to stretch more than three days on the shoulders of his younger brother, she says: “My past proves I speak ‘freedom’. CM Shahbaz responsible to save ‘the day’ is a ruthless and uncaring demand on him (by Nawaz Sharif).”

When the Panama Papers issue hit the headlines in April 2016, she had demanded that the offshore wealth be returned to the nation (by the Sharif family).

“The offshore companies, foreign properties and accounts may be legal but these are unethical. The only way to clear Sharif name is to keep the minimum, simplify life drastically, return all foreign and local wealth to the nation,” was what she advised.

There has been talk in the PML-N Punjab camp that Nawaz Sharif “smartly deprived” Shahbaz of an opportunity to become prime minister because the former does not want his role in party affairs curtailed. After his disqualification by the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case on July 28, Nawaz had announced that Shahbaz would be the prime minister for the remaining 10-month tenure of the party after interim arrangements of 45 days for which Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was elected premier.

There is no guarantee, goes one argument, that Shahbaz will get the same chance in 2018 in case the PML-N wins the election because Kulsoom Nawaz and Maryam Nawaz may be in the race for the top slot.

Published in Dawn, August 10th, 2017