LAHORE - Maryam Nawaz Sharif is a potential candidate for the National Assembly seat in Lahore yet the cases in accountability courts are still eclipsing her fate of entering the contest in upcoming general elections.

The sword of accountability court decisions is hanging over the head of Maryam who at the moment seems easily sailing through the election contest if absolved in three NAB references against her. Things however are open to take another turn if she is convicted and sentenced. An adverse decision will seriously affect her candidature for the next election and if that happened, a question will naturally emerge as to who will replace her in the next elections.

The reference on Avanfield flats case is at the last stage and expected to be decided within a couple of days and most likely before final lists for the election candidates will be released by the election commission. Next decisions are also in the sight by the mid of July. In the event of unfavourable decision against Maryam, the party is likely to go for appeal to enable her to contest the elections. So far, as learnt from the party sources, there is no idea taking round in the party about considering replacement of Maryam if she is not able to take part in the election and everyone is optimistic that she will certainly enter the election arena to start the debut of her parliamentary politics. However, in the far-fetched thought, if her replacement would become inevitable, even then the final decision will be of Sharifs, particularly Maryam Nawaz herself, they add.

Despite disqualification, the narrative and popularity of former prime minister is undiminished while Maryam’s popularity is also going up side by side. And in case of conviction, Maryam is also not likely to lose the popularity graph.

The Central Parliamentary Board of the party has cleared the name of Maryam Nawaz Sharif for taking part in the next election from NA-120 Lahore which has now been renamed as NA-125 in the fresh delimitations. A go-ahead has also been given to the party workers in that constituency to get ready for electing Maryam in the elections. This constituency is the same where Maryam had toiled very hard to secure victory for her ailing mother Begum Kalsoom Nawaz who remained under treatment in London throughout the campaign and on September 17, when the polls were held.

The constituency has been a stronghold of the Sharifs always. The seat was won by Nawaz Sharif in 1997 and 2013 and the PML-N kept its grip firm on the constituency even during Pervez Musharraf regime, when its candidates Pervez Malik and Bilal Yasin, the nephew of Begum Kalsoom Nawaz, returned to the NA assembly.

In the election 2013, Nawaz Sharif has routed the strong candidate of PTI Dr Yasmin Rashid, with margin of around 40000 votes however this margin squeezed to around 16000 when Begum Kalsoom had defeated Dr Yasmin again in the by-election held after the seat fell vacant due to disqualification Nawaz Sharif by the Supreme Court.

Maryam Nawaz Sharif had started her political career with election campaign for her mother in the by-election and made a mark with excellent performance. The way she galvanized the voters in favour of the PML-N candidate outshined many experienced politicians and later, Maryam hitting the bull eye touched that areas where the electorate felt her presence in the constituency. She made a difference from the past candidates by initiating a number of development works in this constituency and is still avidly waited by the voters to see her among them.

Given this track record, the party men are readily assessing victory of Maryam Nawaz in NA-125 however it will be too naive to underestimate her rival candidate Dr Yasmin Rashid after she gave tough time to the N candidates in last two contests which the party never had in the past.

Maryam’s entry in electoral politics and win, at the party level, is being reckoned very important for the reason it will keep her father Muhammad Nawaz Sharif in the leading role in the party under any circumstance as well as to mobilize the voters in favour of party, the glimpse of which she is already presenting in the public speeches she is making with her father. Maryam is also contesting for a provincial assembly seat in PP-149 under the same NA constituency. And if she won the PA seat, possibility cannot be ruled out of her getting a top position in Punjab I, case PML-N won the election.