It seems that the pommelled headship of the PML-N is being steered in different directions as directives from the Adiala Jail cell and the party stance outside stand in contradiction to each other. Where the convicted ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif is pushing the narrative of all-out dissent against the establishment and rigging, it seems the party itself, under Shahbaz Sharif’s divergent command is not as keen to follow through with his methodology.

There seem to be visible signs that the brothers are not on the same page over the present crisis. The ex-premier, in a protracted battle of accountability, can only find reclamation in the narrative of being set up, to the effect of which the entire party should be mobilized in repudiating the status-quo. Not following through with that trope, PML-N’s incumbent president Shahbaz Sharif stands faulted of abandoning his brother and not rallying to this call. It comes as no surprise, for while the the imperious elder brother remains more refractory in his dealing with the deep-state institutions, the incumbent party president has always tread the path of caution in the chronological politico-establishment stand-off. In the wake of the Avenfield arrest, with the support-base for the maligned party faltering and the party itself splintering, the call for street agitation was bereaved of much of its fervency. Adding to which, the establishment’s complete crack-down left no space for political agitation as a recourse. Similarly, while the party supremo called for a similar protest to disavow the electoral process, Shahbaz chose to keep his head down, and with an apathetic campaign, fought a perfunctory election. Even now, where Shahbaz openly displays support to his elder brother, he is careful not to not implicitly take an anti-establishment stance. His focus remains working within the newly elected polity to salvage party support in Punjab, and amalgamate a stiff opposition in the Parliament in league with other opposition parties.

Currently, Shahbaz’s discretion might be the more pragmatic strategy in the face of the disavowal of the polity and mounting NAB charges against him. For Nawaz, as a casualty of the confrontation, redemption lies in an all-out remonstration against the superstructure, a narrative which without the rallying cry of his party rings hollow. Whether the brothers can reconcile their strategies is essential in maintaining a united front in the polity, especially if PML-N wants to prop the party up under the same ideology and leadership.