During the Pakistan movement, Quaid-e-Azam didn’t get time to properly organize the All India Muslim League and after the untimely death of Liaquat Ali Khan the party became disjointed. Ultimately, in 1958 Ayub Khan put a ban on all political parties and it seemed at the time, to be the last chapter in the history of Muslim League.
However, the name Muslim League commanded unequivocal support and a special appeal to the masses, so that when Ayub Khan did formulate a party, he named it the Convention Muslim League and young Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto became its first secretary-general. Later on, the Council Muslim League was formed by some members of the Convention Muslim League, but in 1973 these two parties were reconsolidated by Pir Pagaro and the Muslim League Functional was formed. In 1985 Gen Zia-ul-Haq shaped Pakistan Muslim League (PML) to his preference and Muhammad Khan Junejo assumed party responsibility.
However, after the death of Liaquat Ali Khan, no Muslim League leader gained popularity and the party remained hijacked by the establishment who ran it according to its agendas. These powers brought Mian Nawaz Sharif into Muslim League but unlike the past, Mian Nawaz Sharif commanded unprecedented public approval, and this did not sit well with the establishment. Therefore, his democratically elected government in the 1990’s was toppled twice and after his exile, the party once again became divided and PML (Q) was formed.
In the election of 2008, both Muslim League “Q” and “N” came out in colors with significant public mandate, but the party failed to unite. Looking back at history, one realises that Muslim League always remained divided and lacked grassroots organisation. On the contrary, Bhutto’s PPP was structurally and organisationally so well-founded that after 40 years it has emerged as a unified “sect”.
From 1983 to 1999, Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif was holding public offices and his responsibilities were such that he did not get a chance to reform and structuralise the Pakistan Muslim League. PML remained disjointed during his exile. After the elections of 2008, PPP formed the Federal government and PML-N took over the Punjab government. This was the only time in Mian Nawaz Sharif’s political career when he held no constitutional office and this was the rare opportunity for him to organise and restructure the party and prepare it for the future. Many thought that the much-needed reorganisation was the reason Mian Nawaz Sharif dissolved party offices on 7th Sept 2009, however, party offices remained vacant till 27th August 2011 and the party did not undergo the much-needed reformation and unification.
If the past five years had been utilised to ameliorate and epitomise the party, then today Mian Nawaz Sharif would not have to join hands with Muslim League Functional, Muslim League Hamkhayal, Jamat-e-Islami and JUI-F to form a new “Islami Jamhoori Ittehad” to contest the forthcoming election.
If personal differences had been set aside after the election of 2008 and the PML had been strategically consolidated, neither would we be looking at a future hung parliament nor would Zardari’s government been able to destroy Pakistan’s economic future. A strong, unified and organised Muslim League is in national interest but the chances of that ever happening look slim to me. Perhaps, the establishment is extremely happy with the current state of affairs because from where I see, it will be extremely easy for them to form the Muslim League “ABC” after another October 12.
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