It is difficult for women politicians to gain legitimacy in a patriarchal society and even more so when one’s personal credentials are weak Maryam Nawaz Sharif is currently at the centre stage of Pakistani politics as Nawaz Sharif’s successor. She is trying to define party’s ideology but keeps getting caught in competition within the party and her family. She is forward looking but in gaining legitimacy and acceptance she neglects the work that needs to be done on party ideology. It’s difficult for women politicians to gain legitimacy in a patriarchal society, and even more so when one’s personal credentials are weak and there is a perception that you come from a privileged background. Keeping these realities in mind, perhaps it will be better if Maryam Nawaz adopts a less aggressive rhetoric in her speeches. She routinely gives tough statements and challenges all institutions and political opponents who question her head on. The people around her speak in the same way. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) social media cell which she established similar adopts an aggressive posture in the posts.Many within the PML-N hold her media cell responsible for undermining the authority of the Prime Minister’s (PM’s) office and other government institutions like Radio and PTV. One can even go as far as to say that she was the de-facto Prime Minster during her father’s premiership. A part of her family does not accept her as the rightful claimant to the Sharif’s political legacy. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shahbaz feel that they have served Nawaz well and it is now time for the elder brother to repay them for this service. But the elder brother seems to be on his daughter’s side.Whether Maryam Nawaz is the future leader of the PML-N remains debatable, but as of now, if one has to remain relevant in the PML-N, one has to reckon with her role in the partyWhile campaigning for the NA-120 by-election, Maryam Nawaz was criticised her political opponents and unelected institutions. She managed to side-line Hamza Shahbaz in a bid to strengthen her political credentials. Tough talk about unelected institutions is not what one can associate with either Shahbaz or his son. So Maryam Nawaz is at odds with her uncle and cousin, who hold a significant support in the party. There is a trust deficit between the camps within the Sharif family and as both have a different approach towards national politics. Shahbaz and Hamza want reconciliation. But it seems Maryam Nawaz favours a confrontational approach at a time when she and her family members are facing cases in accountability courts. Maryam Nawaz needs to adopt an aggressive posture as many in the party including senior leaders like Chaudhry Nisar do not apparently accept her leadership. Shahbaz has also castigated people believed to be close to Maryam Nawaz and advised his brother to avoid these people.A question that needs to be asked is why has the leadership of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) accepted Bilawal Bhutto as the PML-N finds it difficult to accept Maryam Nawaz. Either Punjab is more democratic or Sindhis and the PPP consider the sacrifice that Benazir Bhutto gave unparalleled in Pakistani politics. But one thing is certain: the political culture in Punjab and Sindh is different. There are also concerns about Maryam Nawaz’s respect for democratic norms within the party. This has been made many PML-N leaders apprehensive that their influence within the party may get limited overtime. Instead of acknowledging these concerns, Maryam Nawaz has surrounded herself with ‘yes men’. It seems that her approach is to create a wedge within the party, hoping that those on the other side of the wedge will soon join her. Karl Marx rightly said that material conditions determine ideological principles, and in this case Maryam Nawaz has held on to political power and, thus, she has so far remained a figure of authority within the party.Whether Maryam Nawaz is the future leader of the PML-N remains debatable, but as of now if one wants to remain involved in the PML-N, one has to reckon with her role in the party. She has a considerable amount of support within the party and her recent stay at the Prime Minister’s House has given her more legitimacy. After the Panama Papers saga, any opposition from Shahbaz and Hamza will only strengthen the perception within the party that she and her father has been victimised. She can also make her case on feminist grounds. This will get her support from the liberal crowd. Meanwhile, the powers that be do not seem to be too fond of her politics, specifically after the Dawn Leaks incident. But once she has gathered widespread support in the party, perhaps she will be more cautious in her rhetoric. The writer is Strategic and Political analyst. He teaches international politics in NUML IslamabadPublished in Daily Times, October 25th 2017.