LAHORE, May 19: Parties, which have merged themselves with the Pakistan Muslim League, will now separately inform the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) about their decision of bringing an end to their separate entities.

PML-Q Senator S.M. Zafar, who devised the legal course for various parties to become part of the unified PML, told Dawn on Wednesday that the Election Commission would also have to be notified about the amendments made to the PML constitution and the election of Chaudhry Shujaat Husain as the head of the unified PML.

There are over 80 political parties registered with the ECP at present and their number would come down after the completion of the unification process. The Millat Party, the National People's Party, the Sindh Democratic Alliance, the PML (Junejo), the PML (Functional), the PML (Jinnah), the PML-Z have merged them selves with what until recently was called the PML-Q.

Almost all the parties, which have joined the PML, failed to play any significant role since their establishment, and there was little hope for their being able to contribute much even if they had stayed in the field. However, after jumping on the PML bandwagon leaders of these parties will be enhancing their own stature as well as the stature of the ruling party.

Observers say that now the PML will be in a better position to deal with its rivals. The Millat Party of Farooq Leghari was set up on Aug 14, 1998. It was launched mainly because Mr Leghari had no other party which he could join.

Having dismissed the PPP government in November, 1996, levelling serious charges against the then prime minister Benazir Bhutto, he could not go back to the party. There was also no room for him in the PML-N because of his confrontation with Mian Nawaz Sharif who was the prime minister when Mr Leghari had to resign as president.

The Millat Party had set 23 guiding principles for itself. It has consistently been supporting Gen Musharraf's agenda and joined the PML on his advice. The National People's Party was set up at a convention in Lahore on Aug 30 and 31, 1986, with the backing of Gen Ziaul Haq, who wanted to counter the then opposition alliance -- Movement for Restoration of Democracy of which Ms Benazir Bhutto was an important leader.

Many heavyweights like S.M.Zafar, Ghulam Mustafa Khar, Kamal Azfar, Syed Hamid Raza Gilani and Nafees Siddiqui had joined the NPP.However, the death of Gen Ziaul Haq on Aug 17, 1988, gave a setback to the NPP and it could not make an impact on the political landscape of the country.

Ms Bhutto had completed only a year in the office when in 1989 the opposition tabled a no-trust motion against her, proposing Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi as a candidate for the office of the prime minister.

Though the motion failed by a few votes, Mr Jatoi got an opportunity to become caretaker prime minister when the then president Ghulam Ishaq Khan dismissed the Benazir government in 1990.

Mr Jatoi has been politically dormant for a long time, although his sons are in the field. It would not be wrong to say that the NPP existed only on papers for the last several years. As a result, it could not achieve any of the goals set for itself. The goals included: Freedom from oppression, freedom from fear, freedom from disease and ignorance, freedom of faith and freedom of expression.

The PML (Junejo) was founded in 1993 as a result of differences between Mian Nawaz Sharif and close associates of the late Muhammad Khan Junejo -- Hamid Nasir Chattha and Iqbal Ahmad Khan.

After the death of Mr Junejo in March, 1993, Mian Nawaz Sharif wanted to become the central president of the party. He was told that under the constitution the party had 45 days to fill the vacant office of the president and he shouldn't insist on calling a party meeting even before the Chehlum of the leader from Sindhri.

But Mr Sharif was adamant on getting elected as soon as possible. Thus, Mr Chattha and Mr Sharif parted ways and the party was divided.

Mr Chattha headed the faction named after Junejo while Iqbal Ahmad Khan became its secretary-general. The party won less than 20 provincial seats in the 1993 elections and formed a coalition in the Punjab under the leadership of Mian Manzoor Wattoo. The PPP, though the major component, conceded the top slot to the PML (Junejo) to keep the PML-N out.

After some time, Mr Chattha and Mr Wattoo also developed serious differences. The PPP wanted to replace Mr Wattoo with the late Makhdoom Altaf Ahmad, an idea vehemently opposed by the former. As a result of talks between the PPP and Mr Chattha, Sardar Arif Nakai was made the new chief minister, ousting Mr Wattoo.

The leader from Wasawaywala could not digest the disgrace and he set up his own small faction, of which former speaker Saeed Ahmad Khan Manais and the late Chaudhry Muhammad Farooq were the main pillars.

Though the party existed for some years, it did not have representation beyond a few constituencies in the Punjab. The PML-Functional, headed by Pir Pagara, was confined to Sindh. The Sindhi leader always claimed that the PML revived by the Supreme Court after the partyless 1985 elections belonged to him.

The Pir made several attempt to unify all factions of the PML, but every time some problems cropped up and the process was blocked. His differences with Chaudhry Shujaat Husain also hampered the progress.

It is said that Gen Musharraf played an important role in making the two sides to sit together. The PML-Z, led by Ijazul Haq, is perhaps the youngest of all parties. It was launched when the son of the late Gen Ziaul Haq did not get a good deal at the hands of the PML leadership at the time of the October, 2002, general elections.

The senior vice-president of the PML when Mian Nawaz Sharif and Chaudhry Shujaat Husain were together, Ijazul Haq could not give a performance in the elections. Though he won his seat, the electoral support which he had inherited because of his late father could not be translated into seats.

The Sindh Democratic Alliance was the brainchild of Mr Imtiaz Sheikh, a former bureaucrat. It was in fact a small club of individuals like Arbab Ghulam Rahim, Jalal Mahmood Shah, Amir Bux Bhutto, Syed Shafqat Husain Shah, Raheela Tiwana and Syed Shakir Ali Jafri.

The first meeting of the SDA was held on Sept 9, 2001, at the residence of Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi, a son of Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi. The SDA's manifesto had 38 major points.


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