Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) seems to be finally waking from a political hiatus and beginning to reassert itself as an active opposition party. Before the leadership can effectively do that, they have to invest some time into reenergizing a party that has lain dormant in their absence. Official spokespersons, politicians in talk shows, and social media accounts may do a good enough job of propagating the party’s narrative to the voters. However, the rank and file of the party require a different sort of engagement. It is the party cadres that are the most unsettled, and their unwavering support is what the party needs at the moment.

Maryam Nawaz, Ahsan Iqbal and Shahid Khaqan Abassi will find the task in front of them challenging. The absence of Nawaz Sharif, and more crucially the continued absence of Shahbaz Sharif, has left a vacuum at the top. Shahbaz Sharif, apart from being the Leader of the Opposition was the PML-N’s defacto leader, and the focal person who kept the inner workings of the party in check. The complicated web of allegiances that comprise the PML-N’s national spread needs to be constantly monitored – breakaways are a real danger.

It is not surprising then, that PML-N issued show cause notices to six party legislators who recently met Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar for violating of party discipline. The tersely worded notices have chided the legislators and asked them to explain their position within seven days, but it seems that damage has been done. Their memberships have been suspended, and some legislators still continue to criticize the party leadership.

The PML-N must surely know that sending harsh notices reminding politicians of their allegiance to the PML-N tiger is not going instantly whip them back into the ranks, the party needs to engage and listen to their members.