Nawaz instructed Maryam to ‘leave’ country immediately.

Govt agencies had indicated political fallout from Imran Khan’s long march

LAHORE:PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz set sail for London at 10am on October 5 – less than 24 hours after her passport was returned to her through an order by the Lahore High Court – on party supremo and her father Nawaz Sharif’s instructions, party insiders revealed on Wednesday.

A ‘stitch in time’, sources said the decision to leave the country forthwith was taken after concerns expressed in the reports of the government agencies regarding the preparations of arch-rival PTI’s long march and its possible success.

Therefore, instead of waiting for the other shoe to drop, Maryam – like the rest of her siblings – took refuge under the wings of her father in London, sources said.

They added that the decision was driven by fears of potential political fallout from former prime minister Imran Khan making strides towards the federal capital – virtually the political oasis of the PML-N-led coalition whose clout in provinces has been undercut after PTI’s unabated march towards success at the ballot box in provinces.

To avoid any such potential political firestorm, the government agencies had revealed to Nawaz Sharif that there were fair chances Imran Khan would succeed in his long march.

“Maryam Nawaz could have faced difficulties while staying in the country in case of a success of the PTI’s possible long march,” party sources said and shared that her return to Pakistan will be possible only when the dust settles on PTI’s long march bearing down on Islamabad.

The father-daughter duo reunited in London last week after three years as she arrived in the United Kingdom to spend a month with her father, who has been in London since November 2019. She will reportedly undergo a medical procedure during this visit, and speculations are high that she and Nawaz Sharif will return to Pakistan together.

However, political experts said the development appeared ‘counterintuitive’ as Maryam had been reportedly entrusted with the task of reorganisation of party and was expected to zoom around Punjab districts to campaign for the October 16 by-elections.

It may also be noted here that in recent years, PML-N has more often than not decided to ride on Ms Sharif’s wings to heal its fledgling political fortunes by fielding her on the ground to head its canvassing single-handedly.

‘United under wings’

Maryam is the latest Sharif to seek refuge in London under her father’s wings as three of her siblings are already there, the sources continued and added that with the presence of Maryam, Nawaz Sharif has managed to secure his entire family abroad.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shehbaz are in Pakistan.

In the event of the success of the long march and the collapse of the federal government, the leaders of the party in Pakistan, including PM Shehbaz and Hamza Shehbaz may face hardship, party sources added.

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