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Pagara parts ways with unified PML

July 29, 2004

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KARACHI, July 28: Veteran Pakistan Muslim League leader Pir Pagara announced on Wednesday that he was parting company with the PML headed by Prime Minister Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and reviving his own faction of the party, PML-F.

He accused Chaudhry Shujaat of acting in bad faith and said that various factions of the party had decided in principle on unification, and not merger. But this was changed when the PML applied for registration with the Election Commission.

Pir Pagara, who was addressing a press conference at his Kingri House residence, said he did not accept Chaudhry Shujaat as the PML president because he had turned the party into a 'Jat League' and ignored dedicated Leaguers like the Lalika family who had served the party for over 70 years. "He ignored the Lalikas and appointed a Jat who had defected from the PPP".

He said all office-bearers of his party stood restored and the posts of those who had accepted offices in the 'Shujaat party' would be filled in a council meeting to be summoned soon.

Asked if there was any possibility of restoring the PML unity with the intervention of President Pervez Musharraf, he said that after he had taken a stand and made it public, there was no possibility of revoking it.

When asked what would be his reaction if the prime minister sought to meet him, he said if he declined once to see a person, he never saw him again. However, Pir Pagara made it clear that the decision of reviving his party would not affect the coalition government and his party would continue to be a partner.

Answering a question, he said that Mr Shaukat Aziz was the representative of the army and he enjoyed his support. However, on the PML issue, the army would not be able to force him to change his mind. If Chaudhry Shujaat was so dear to the army, the latter could appoint him a general.

In reply to another question, Pir Pagara said he wanted the party to be run by right people after purging unwanted elements. At present, he said, there was a need for accountability of the PML and its leadership. He said that the government was of the army and if one officer went another would replace him.

Answering another question, he said that he would not rule out the possibility of governor's rule in Sindh and if the law and order situation went on deteriorating, it might not be just governor's rule, it could be corps commander's rule. He conceded, in a light vein, that Chaudhry Shujaat would be the first prime minister in the country to complete his tenure - of 45 days.