Maryam Nawaz -Pakistan’s First Woman CM

On February 27, 2024, Maryam Nawaz of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was elected unopposed as Chief Minister of Punjab province defeating former international cricketer Imran Khan-backed candidate, securing 220 votes out of 371 member assembly.

Key Milestone Achieved

Maryam’s resounding win represents twin landmark outcome. First, it indicates decisive rejection of former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s bid who tried obstructing her chances through resignations. Secondly and more prominently, Maryam broke South Asian glass ceiling by becoming Pakistan’s first woman to lead any province politically.

Maryam’s Background

For the influential Nawaz Sharif dynasty dominating country’s politics over decades, ascendancy of his 49-year old daughter Maryam, married with two children marks coming of age of heir apparent. Despite facing court cases earlier she resolutely campaigned for party since 2017 when family patriarch Nawaz got ousted as Prime Minister.

In 2017, Maryam was featured in the BBC’s 100 Women list because of her significant influence among the masses. She was also named in The New York Times list of 11 Powerful Women Around the World for the year 2017.

Though the Pakistan Supreme Court ruled that she was involved in money laundering, her political party has rejected all the charges and continues to maintain that she is innocent.

Steadfast Rise

Already an iconic figure espousing her father’s fiery anti-military establishment plank, Maryam’s unwavering leadership despite attacks and arrests earned widespread following leading to emergence as PM aspirant in own right given fragile elder brother Shehbaz’s conciliatory approach failing to inspire cadres.

Uphill Challenges

As rising star, Maryam’s baptism by fire as Chief Minister steering the agrarian heartland confronts her with two clear choices – chase national prominence aggressively backed by loyal Sharif support base or deliver governance leap quietening critics as administrator first. Immediate by-elections loom with Khan plotting strong comeback.

Significance of Victory

While celebrating maiden high office, Maryam understands its emblematic value for all women in conservative patriarchal Islamic nation restricting female leadership prospects across South Asia despite Benazir Bhutto’s game-changing ascent as Prime Minister in 1990s.

 

 


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