LAHORE - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who is also PML-N president is almost sure to retain his position as the ruling party chief on the completion of his four-year term in July this year.
In the intra-party election of the PML-N on July 11, 2011, Nawaz Sharif was elected unopposed to this slot and took this office from his younger brother, Shahbaz Sharif, to embark upon the journey for years. Sources in the party say that this time Nawaz Sharif is again poised to become the president of the PML-N for another term without facing any challenge from anyone. They further say Raja Zafarul Haq has also bright chance to repeat as the party chairman for another term though a contest is expected on the general secretary seat which at present is being held by Iqbal Zafar Jhagra. The sources opine Jhagra enjoys a sound position to retain the office, however, the party can consider the names of Deputy Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal and former senator Ch Jaffar Iqbal to replace Jhagra if he believes he is unfit to perform the job on medical grounds.
Last time election of the general secretary was delayed because a faction in the party wanted to see Sartaj Aziz on this slot. However, another group opposed him and, at the end of the day, Jhagra was elevated to this position. This time Aziz is not likely to join the race for this office as he is comfortably fulfilling the responsibilities as the PM’s adviser on national security and foreign affairs.  The sources say Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif is likely to retain the office of provincial president of the party . Change in Sindh is, however, very much expected given the differences of provincial leaders like Ghaus Ali Shah and others with the party leadership. Central Information Secretary Mushahidullah Khan who hails from Sindh is also a federal minister. Sources say a faction in the party wants a person on this seat from the Punjab and is lobbying to accommodate Mushahidullah against some other slot. However, at present, no such proposal is under consideration. As to central senior vice presidents and vice presidents at the provincial level, no working to finalise names for these slots has so far been started.
The sources, however, say preparations for the party elections have been started with the instructions to complete the PML-N council, an electoral college for the central office bearers of the party , with Punjab having 600 maximum members. The process to complete the district councils has also been kick-started, they add.
The sources say in view of the local government polls in the Punjab in September this year and general elections in 2018, election or selection of the party office bearers would be carried out with a view to nominating such people as will be able to boost the party image and highlight the government performance on both occasions. After the encouraging results in the last LG elections in cantonment boards, the party eyes similar results in the main LG polls in the Punjab because such elected representatives at local level will help strengthen youth, women, labourers, farmers and other wings of the party in the general elections.