Mak­ing of a Fu­ture Leader

Her fa­ther may be­lieve that Maryam Nawaz Sharif has still a long way to go but she cer­tainly has the germs for leadership as she is prov­ing in the many as­sign­ments she is cur­rently han­dling.

Southasia - - CONTENTS - By Dr. Syed Ali Madni

Some po­lit­i­cal pun­dits pre­dict a rather in­ter­est­ing change in the Pak­istan Mus­lim League (Nawaz) af­ter a decade when Nawaz Sharif reaches the age of 72. They fore­see Maryam Nawaz calling the shots and they have valid rea­sons. In 2012, it was an­nounced that Maryam will par­tic­i­pate in pol­i­tics to as­sist her fa­ther in the 2013 gen­eral elec­tions. Since then, she has been ac­tive in pol­i­tics, and cur­rently serves as an aide in the Pak­istan Mus­lim League (N) head­ing the most im­por­tant or­gan of the party -- the me­dia cell.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port pub­lished in an English lan­guage news­pa­per, the lit­tle­known Strate­gic Me­dia Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Cell (SMCC), op­er­at­ing out of the Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice is work­ing un­der the watch­ful eye of Maryam Nawaz Sharif. Set up with the spe­cial ap­proval of the PM as part of the in­for­ma­tion min­istry in late 2015, the SMCC has since evolved into a pow­er­ful unit. Ini­tially, the SMCC was provided with a staff of 15 peo­ple and a bud­getary al­lo­ca­tion of Rs. 20 mil­lion for the cur­rent fi­nan­cial year. But only re­cently, the in­for­ma­tion min­istry sought the PM’s ap­proval to in­crease the num­ber of SMCC em­ploy­ees to 38. With this in­crease, the cell re­quires an­other Rs. 20 mil­lion to meet op­er­at­ing costs.

In the opinion of sev­eral gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials privy to the SMCC’s op­er­a­tions, the cell had ac­tu­ally taken over func­tions from the in­for­ma­tion min­istry. As ex­plained in its orig­i­nal sum­mary, the SMCC was given the man­date to cre­ate favourable pub­lic opinion for the gov­ern­ment by pre­par­ing spe­cial me­dia cam­paigns. An in­sider told the news­pa­per that the cell’s en­tire staff had been re­cruited on Maryam’s rec­om­men­da­tion, men­da­tion, even though some of its key y mem­bers held aca­demic qual­i­fi­ca­tions ns ir­rel­e­vant to com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

Orig­i­nally groomedd to fill the slot of the For­eign Min­is­ter,er, the idea was dropped when Maryam m had to re­sign as the Chair­per­son of the e Prime Min­is­ter Youth Loan Pro­gramme — a po­si­tion she claimed to have been hold­ing old­ing purely “as a vol­un­teer and on an honorary ba­sis” --- fol­low­ing a La­hore High Court or­der which asked the fed­er­alal gov­ern­ment to re­place her and de­vise se a trans­par­ent mech­a­nism for fresh ap­point­ment she had to re­sign. The judgedge also raised queries about a uniquee com­bi­na­tion of her de­grees – M.A. (English glish Lit­er­a­ture) and Ph.D. in Po­lit­i­cal l Sci­ence – which was pre­sented to the court by a gov­ern­ment lawyer wyer in sup­port of Maryam Nawaz’sawaz’s el­i­gi­bil­ity for the po­si­tion. on.

The slot of the For­eign eign Min­is­ter is still ly­ing ing va­cant de­spite the fact act that for­eign af­fairs is a com­pli­cated busi­nessss and ev­ery coun­try y needs a full-time, , cabi­net-level, of­fi­cially ap­pointed for­eign min­is­ter. Ac­cord­ing to an ed­i­to­rial pub­lished in a lead­ing English lan­guage daily, “There was a rel­a­tively straight­for­ward so­lu­tionn to the prob­lem: to usee the Se­nate elec­tions in March to el­e­vate Mr Aziz ziz or Mr Fatemi to par­lia­ment ment and hence be el­i­gi­ble e to be­come a full cabi­net bi­net

mem­ber. For rea­sons best known to Mr Sharif, that op­por­tu­nity was de­clined. Worse yet, the prime min­is­ter has done noth­ing to try and re­solve the turf war in the for­eign min­istry that has ham­strung its func­tion­ing.” Is it be­cause the Prime Min­is­ter wants to see none other than Maryam in the For­eign Of­fice?

As a For­eign Min­is­ter she would have been re­spon­si­ble for im­ple­ment­ing the state's diplo­matic prin­ci­ples and poli­cies and re­lated laws and reg­u­la­tions; safe­guard­ing na­tional sovereignty, se­cu­rity and in­ter­ests on be­half of the state; run­ning diplo­matic af­fairs on be­half of the state and the gov­ern­ment; and han­dling diplo­matic ac­tiv­i­ties. Nat­u­rally, five years in the for­eign of­fice would groom her enough to step in the shoes of her fa­ther.

In an April 2012 ar­ti­cle in Newsweek Pak­istan, Maryam Nawaz was de­scribed as the new face of the PML-N. Flu­ent in four lan­guages, the Newsweek ar­ti­cle por­trayed her as a pro­gres­sive heir ap­par­ent of Pak­istan's main­stream right-to-cen­ter PML-N. She urged youth in her ad­dress on the Quaid e Azam's birth­day to play an im­por­tant role in the eco­nom­ics and pol­i­tics of Pak­istan. She an­nounced her in­ten­tion to par­tic­i­pate in pol­i­tics in or­der to as­sist her fa­ther.

In fact, the much pub­li­cized Maryam Nawaz-Michelle Obama meet­ing was a part of her groom­ing. The First Lady of the United States had for­mally in­vited Maryam Nawaz Sharif for a one-on-one meet­ing in the White House on Oc­to­ber 22, 2015, the day when Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif had a meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Obama in the Oval Of­fice. The US first lady had a dis­cus­sion with Maryam Nawaz about the world­wide chil­dren ed­u­ca­tion pro­gramme for which they had al­ready agreed to work. Michelle Obama in­formed Maryam Nawaz in Au­gust last that she would also work with her to pro­mote ed­u­ca­tion in Pak­istan.

This par­tic­u­lar meet­ing re­minds one of the Simla Agree­ment signed be­tween Indira Gandhi and Zul­fikar Ali Bhutto on July 2, 1972. It was much more than a peace treaty seek­ing to re­verse the con­se­quences of the 1971 war (i.e. to bring about with­drawals of troops and an ex­change of PoWs). It was a com­pre­hen­sive blue print for good neigh­bourly re­la­tions be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan. Un­der the Agree­ment, both coun­tries un­der­took to ab­jure con­flict and con­fronta­tion which had marred re­la­tions in the past, and to work to­wards the es­tab­lish­ment of durable peace, friend­ship and co­op­er­a­tion. Be­nazir Bhutto also ac­com­pa­nied her fa­ther to that his­tor­i­cal meet­ing an later led the Peo­ples Party as well as the Prime Min­is­ter of Pak­istan.

An­a­lyst Aye­sha Sid­diqa feels that Maryam is be­ing groomed by Mr Sharif much like Zul­fikar Bhutto trained Be­nazir Bhutto. This is not sur­pris­ing in a coun­try where dy­nas­tic pol­i­tics is a trend. Sid­diqa points out that by in­vest­ing in Maryam, the Amer­i­cans seem to be in­di­cat­ing that they see the Shar­ifs/PML-N as a ma­jor po­lit­i­cal force in the fu­ture.

Writes Asha'ar Rehman in Dawn, “It is re­mark­able just how fast Ms Maryam Nawaz has trav­elled on the high­way to where she is, or soon will be, com­pared to a young Ms Be­nazir Bhutto trav­el­ling with her fa­ther to Shimla.” Ac­cord­ing to him, Maryam along with Ishaq Dar and Shah­baz Sharif, was re­spon­si­ble for run­ning the op­er­a­tions of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment smoothly.

Pol­i­tics in Pak­istan is fun­da­men­tally hered­i­tary and prac­ti­cally ev­ery party leader is groom­ing his son or daugh­ter to step into his shoes. Assem­bly seats are de­scribed as an­ces­tors’ seats, which are gen­er­ally won by fam­ily mem­bers, of course through free if not fair elec­tions. Though a po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist may ar­gue that elec­tions work on the prin­ci­ple of free-mar­kets and as such, by en­cour­ag­ing fam­ily pol­i­tics, we are al­low­ing democ­racy to be hi­jacked by a few fam­i­lies, the sit­u­a­tion is not go­ing to change even af­ter five decades.

Born on Oc­to­ber 28, 1973 in La­hore, af­ter grad­u­at­ing from the Con­vent of Je­sus and Mary, Maryam pur­sued her un­der­grad­u­ate stud­ies at the Pun­jab Univer­sity, and also earned a mas­ter's de­gree from there. She is cur­rently pur­su­ing a doc­toral de­gree at Cam­bridge Univer­sity. She played a vi­tal role in pro­mot­ing higher ed­u­ca­tion in Pun­jab and serves as the chair­per­son of the Board of the Sharif Med­i­cal and Den­tal Col­lege. In 2011, she be­came ac­tively in­volved in na­tional pol­i­tics.

Maryam Nawaz has since 1997 been the chair­per­son of the Sharif Trust, founded by her grand­fa­ther Muham­mad Sharif, Sharif Med­i­cal City and Sharif Ed­u­ca­tion In­sti­tutes. She takes a keen in­ter­est and is di­rectly in­volved in the work­ing of the Sharif Trust and its al­lied in­sti­tu­tions, in­clud­ing the Sharif Col­lege of Engi­neer­ing & Tech­nol­ogy, Sharif Ed­u­ca­tion Com­plex, Sharif Model Schools for Boys and Girls, Sharif In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy and the Is­lamic Cen­ter.

There is no doubt that Maryam is in­tel­li­gent and smart enough to un­der­stand the re­quire­ments of be­ing a suc­cess­ful politi­cian in to­day’s fastchang­ing world. She un­der­stands well that the so­cial me­dia has be­come one of the most im­por­tant fo­rums for po­lit­i­cal ac­tivism in its dif­fer­ent forms. So­cial me­dia plat­forms such as Twit­ter, Face­book and YouTube pro­vide new ways to stim­u­late cit­i­zen en­gage­ment in po­lit­i­cal life, where elec­tions and elec­toral cam­paigns have a cen­tral role.

Maryam is very ef­fec­tively us­ing so­cial me­dia to get closer to po­ten­tial voters. Through Twit­ter she has been able to com­mu­ni­cate faster and reach ci­ti­zens in a more tar­geted man­ner with­out the in­ter­me­di­ate role of mass me­dia. Re­ac­tions, feed­back, con­ver­sa­tions and de­bates gen­er­ated on­line as well as sup­port and par­tic­i­pa­tion for off­line events helps her in de­cid­ing the fu­ture course of ac­tion. More­over the mul­ti­pli­ca­tion of mes­sages posted on per­sonal net­works when shared, en­ables her to reach to new au­di­ences.

Cur­rently, Maryam is the only fe­male leader who is play­ing such an ef­fec­tive role in the PML(N). She en­cour­ages women’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in pol­i­tics for the devel­op­ment of Pak­istan and takes part in dif­fer­ent ini­tia­tives for the so­cial, po­lit­i­cal, ed­u­ca­tional and eco­nomic devel­op­ment of Pak­istan.

Zul­fikar Ali Bhutto shak­ing hands with Indra Gandhi at Simla in 1972.

Be­nazir Bhutto is on Bhutto's left.

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