LAHORE - Although hawks in PML-N have reservations, a conspicuous majority sees Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif a fit person not only to head the party but also to bolster its position and lead it to victory in the next elections.

Interacting with this scribe, not only the party lawmakers but also rival legislators said good words for Shehbaz Sharif in terms of his administrative acumen, acceptance in PML-N and the policy of co-existence with the institutions although they all do not match the line of action adopted by a group within PML-N itself.

The PML-N sources say the party toppers are inclined to make Shehbaz Sharif president on permanent basis and appoint former premier Nawaz Sharif as the party quaid. The combination of the two brothers after disqualification verdict against the ex-premier by the Supreme Court sounds very good and is being applauded in the party. But the party leaders are taking time to bring all and sundry on board before making a formal announcement of the name of Shehbaz Sharif as president at the Central Working Committee (CWC) meeting which is likely to be held after the Senate elections on March 3.

Shehbaz Sharif worked as the PML-N president in 2007-08 after the Sharifs returned from Saudi Arabia. He will not be a novice if appointed to the top office this time too although he will discharge his responsibilities in a situation which is different from that in the past on the political landscape of the country and within the party.

Realising the fact that former premier Nawaz Sharif commands immense public reception even as disqualified, the party does not want his role to be eclipsed by any means. The party also admits the political role played by Maryam Nawaz Sharif in earning victory for her mother, Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, in the NA-120 by-election, galvanising the party and keeping morale of the workers high after the ouster of Nawaz Sharif from the PM office and against the judicial odds. As such it highly counts utility of Maryam Nawaz in taking the party ahead and strongly wants her to remain in the limelight.

In this background, PML-N has the choice of three members of the Sharifs to head the party. They have their worth but in their own way. One is Begum Kulsoom Nawaz Sharif. Appointing Begum Kalsoom Nawaz as the party president may compensate removal of Nawaz Sharif as the PML-N president, but she is ill and unable to bear the heavy responsibilities of the party in the current tense political situation.

As to Maryam Nawaz Sharif, the party sources say she is also a good choice, but seniors in PML-N may find trouble in adjusting with her and Ch Nisar is an example of it. The ultimate choice is Shehbaz Sharif who enjoys the support of seniors and holds wisdom to meet the upcoming challenges. His acceptability by the foreign friends of Pakistan is also admitted. The party sources say significance of Shehbaz for completing the ongoing projects also cannot be discounted. He has also been named as the party candidate for the slot of prime minister after the general elections.

For the coming Senate elections, Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif is also being seen by political observers and analysts with an added role in keeping the PML-N legislators comfortably in the party and ensuring its candidates’ win.

The Senate candidates will now take part in the polls on the basis of their own identity instead of the party. It is a situation wherein the voters will also not be bound to obey the party command about necessarily voting for the party candidates. As such keeping them together and protecting them against temptations from rival candidates requires a leader of mature political approach which, they say, is profoundly found in Shehbaz Sharif.