Pakistan's Brothers Sharif and the Curious Case of a Confused Cat Family

Shehbaz's transition to PM-ship isn’t smooth—his Chief Ministerial nostalgia makes him do things he shouldn’t do.

5 min read

At this point in Pakistan’s politics, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that it’s Sharif’s world and we are just living in it.

The last time you read me (if you read me), I narrated the ousting of former Prime Minister Imran Khan. With every regime change, the people of Pakistan set their expectations bar at the top floor of Burj Khalifa, or let’s just say at the top of the pointed needle of Burj Khalifa. We expect the change to happen at a speed that even Flash would consider resigning from Marvel.

Like several years ago and many years to come, the political transition yet again brought the Sharif brothers of Pakistan Muslim League - N (PML-N) into power, with the reigns of the country in Shehbaz Sharif’s hands, the younger brother of Nawaz Sharif. We are currently living in Sharif inception. There is a Sharif within a Sharif and then another sharif. Party supremo Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, and Punjab’s Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz Sharif. If we had a dollar for every Sharif we have right now, we wouldn’t be needing IMF to save us.


All About Pakistan's Lions

To understand PMLN-N, Nawaz Sharif, and Shehbaz Sharif, you need to understand…lions. When Shehbaz Sharif took the oath, the National Assembly roared with “Sher” (lion) chants. When we talk about the Sharif brothers, one must not and should not forget about….lions.

The lion is the election symbol of PML-N. However, if you see the election symbol, it is actually a tiger and not a lion.

So in order to end the confusion, PML-N has extended its symbol recognition to “tigers, cubs, lioness, tigress” etc to ensure that whatever disrespect they have brought to either tiger by calling it a lion or by using a tiger as a symbol for lion, can be dissipated by including the entire big cats family in the political spectrum.

It is pertinent to mention here that supporters of PML-N are unable to differentiate between lions and tigers. Such is the influence of the party supremo, the lion, the quaid (almost spiritual leader) Nawaz Sharif on his supporters. With such an elevated status of Nawaz Sharif, the lion, in the party, one would wonder how would his younger brother, Shehbaz Sharif overcome the supremacy of Nawaz Sharif who also excels at ensuring the quality of grilled meat. Brownie point for Nawaz Sharif!

Pakistan's PM Shehbaz Sharif is Still Acting Like CM Shehbaz Sharif 

Shehbaz Sharif, the current 15895th Prime Minister of Pakistan, has ruled Punjab province for as long as we didn’t have electricity, and then we did have electricity. Shehbaz has been lauded for his administrative brilliance as the Chief Minister of Punjab where he couldn’t sleep if he knew that one particular underpass in the city doesn’t have flower pots hanging on to the sides and people have to cross it without any visual pleasure.

He is so kneedeep into the administrative aspect that even after becoming the Prime Minister, he did a surprise visit to a local bazaar in Lahore. Shehbaz Sharif’s transition to Premiership isn’t getting smooth as his Chief Ministerial nostalgia makes him do things he shouldn’t be doing. For instance, he shouldn’t have the Chief Minister abbreviation (CM) in his Twitter handle but he has it. I mean imagine reading “@cmshehbaz - the new prime minister”

While Shehbaz Sharif works on his cabinet and appoints special assistance to stay up late at night with him and then wake up at 6 in the morning, the party supremo Nawaz Sharif was observing Shehbaz Sharif just like your elder sibling watches you very closely in hopes of you messing up something so they can scold you.


Siblings Sharif and the Desi Eldest Child Dilemma

At this moment, we are not too sure as to what happened but Nawaz Sharif not only asked Shehbaz Sharif to come to London but also bring his cabinet. Nawaz Sharif resides in London because he has cases against him and life in London makes you forget those cases. Beautiful weather, nice buses, high-end fashion brands, whatta life!

The optic of Shehbaz Sharif leaving with his team to meet his big brother seemed more like when your mother gets really angry and asks all her kids to assemble right away.

The body language and optic expert had a lot to say about this untimely visit. A lot of them said maybe, like any other elder sibling in a desi family, Nawaz Sharif also believes that Shehbaz Sharif is either doing it all wrong or he just can’t do it.

The eldest sibling dilemma is unreal in a desi family. Eldest child will always be a guinea pig for parents. 90 percent of the eldest sibling training includes just one sentence “you are the eldest”. That’s it. That’s the training. That’s the only remark eldest siblings make in every argument. “Yes I understand you like chicken biryani but let me remind you that I am your eldest sibling. You might like biryani but not in a way that the eldest sibling does because I am the eldest sibling”.

So it could just be that “Yes Shehbaz I love you and I believe you can do wonders but since I am the eldest, I know better and you will do as I please”.

Maybe Nawaz Sharif is going through FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Honestly, at this point, he is only missing out on insane inflation, currency in free fall, IMF program stalled, electricity crisis, climate crisis, and the list go on. Maybe Nawaz is a sadist and he likes doing this to himself. We will never know.


Is Nawaz Sharif the Only True Lion?

Or it could simply be that Nawaz Sharif still has a premiership hangover and with even one Sharif in power, Nawaz is giving a reminder to everyone that you can have as many Sharif inceptions as you want, there will be just one true Lion Dream and that would be Nawaz Sharif!

The rumor mill went crazy as some said Nawaz would be calling for early elections or he is simply not happy with the team. Some also suggested it could have been a Zoom meeting, which I agree with.

An interesting bit about this meeting has been that Nawaz Sharif strictly forbade his team from disclosing whatever happened in the meeting. Again, several rumors are floating around but I personally think Nawaz Sharif dropped his most sought-after skin routine in the meeting. Nothing, I repeat nothing could be this confidential as we, the Janta, have asked about his skin routine for decades but he has been mum over it.

Whether it is the skin or economy of Pakistan, the meeting again tells us who the lion is, who the tiger is, which of the team members are cubs, and why the election symbol that looks like a tiger but is a lion so confused!

(The author is a columnist and media professional. She tweets at @mahobili. This is a personal blog and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Member
Read More