Maryam Nawaz’s Resistance

Maryam Nawaz’s press conference on Saturday made it clear who will fulfil the role of the confrontationist resistance leader in the opposition today. For the past ten months, several prominent leaders have wrestled for the position- Maulana Fazlur Rehman has tried quite often to unite the opposition to provide the most resistance to the government, and Shehbaz and Hamza Sharif have given lengthy droning speeches in the parliament and provincial assembly, explaining why the government is in the utter wrong of everything. Yet when it comes to who has the most impact, and who uses the words which go for the jugular, it cannot be denied that Maryam Nawaz’s press conferences and interviews draw the most attention.

Her recent press conference was certainly no exception when it comes to raising eyebrows. During her speech, Maryam took plenty a jab at the government, saying that the prime minister, who she called “nalaiq-e-azam” has ruined the economy by his incompetence and had not provided any relief to the masses, despite borrowing a lot of money. Her criticism of the government ministers was so severe that it prompted statements from the information minister, berating Maryam for using “personal attacks” against Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) parliamentarians.

Perhaps the most interesting part of Maryam’s press conference was that she did not spare her own party from criticism. She rebuked the opposition’s “charter of economy”, a proposal of the opposition to work with the government to pass the budget. According to Maryam, there can be no agreement with the government, which according to her, “stole the people’s mandate”.

These comments are extremely revealing. They can be perceived as a jab at her own uncle and leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Shehbaz Sharif, who has voiced support for the charter of economy. This is perhaps the first time that a Sharif family member has publicly criticised the proposal of another Sharif leader.

For the past year, it has been clear that the Nawaz and Shehbaz style of resistance are two different brands. Nawaz Sharif has always been more confrontational and Shehbaz’s style has been cooperative and traditional. In the last year, where several PML-N leaders have been jailed, the differences between the two camps have gotten more divisive and heated as ever. No matter how much Maryam denies a feud with her uncle, her words reflect a parting of the ways of the resistance effort that PML-N has been following for these past months.

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