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Maryam meets Shahbaz, Hamza amid rumours of differences

Updated October 18, 2017

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Maryam Nawaz and Hamza Shahbaz.— File
Maryam Nawaz and Hamza Shahbaz.— File

LAHORE: The Sharif family scions — Maryam Nawaz and Hamza Shahbaz — sat on Tuesday face to face for the first time since the Panama Papers case rocked the country’s political landscape and led to the disqualification as parliamentarian of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, according to sources.

The two met at the Sharifs’ Model Town residence here, reportedly after the intervention of their elders.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif ‘mediated’ between the ‘rival’ cousins. Hamza’s brother Suleman was also present on the occasion.

Also read: Sharif and the family feud

According to the sources, the chief minister urged Maryam to “observe a ceasefire” because any clash with the judiciary or the military would “be in the interest of neither the country nor the PML-N”.

Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique has also asked Maryam to be careful in her remarks.

An official source told Dawn that since Hamza’s dissociation from Kulsoom Nawaz’s election campaign in Lahore’s NA-120 constituency about two months ago, the relations between the cousins plunged to a new low and intervention of their elders seemed inevitable. Hamza was ‘forced’ to stay out of the country for about one-and-a-half months and returned recently after Begum Nawaz won the ballot.

Punjab CM urges niece to refrain from assailing judiciary, military

“A single meeting is not enough to end the differences, but ice definitely melts [during such a meeting],” the source said, adding that it was an important development with regard to the Sharif family’s internal politics.

After the meeting, Maryam said she was surprised to see “the spin” the media had given to it. “I had gone to say Salam to my Uncle [Shahbaz Sharif] where he most lovingly treated me to lavish afternoon tea. Had good chat with him, my brothers Hamza, Suleman and other family members. Those who wish to drive a wedge will remain unsuccessful as always,” she tweeted.

“Confrontation among institutions is not in the best interest of the country,” Shahbaz said after the meeting. He also inquired after the health of Begum Nawaz and prayed for her early recovery.

Following in the footstep of his father, Hamza said clash of institutions would be harmful for the system. “Therefore, all of us should work together. I love my forces — army, Rangers and police. If any harm is done to Pakistan we cannot forgive ourselves,” he said and termed democracy the only way forward.

“The solution to all problems is in democracy,” he added.

A senior PML-N leader from Punjab said that Shahbaz’s ‘advice’ to Maryam to be careful in her criticism of the judiciary and army might fall on deaf ears if Nawaz had chosen to tread the path of confrontation. “Maryam will only follow the advice of her father and no one else,” he said requesting anonymity.

It appeared that Maryam had already been directed by her father not to take on the establishment and judiciary at least for the time being, he said. “After getting some serious message from the quarters concerned, Mr Sharif and Maryam have begun to observe a temporary truce.”

In her interaction with party workers in the NA-120 constituency in the last two days, Maryam avoided addressing them or holding media talk. “I do not want to do any political talk today as I am here to serve the people,” she replied to a questioner.

Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2017