Largely seen as a centrist party, the Pakistan Muslim League - Quaid (PML-Q) most recently held 54 seats in 2008-2013 Parliament — 50 in the National Assembly, and five in Senate.

Allies with the Pakistan Peoples Party-led government at the centre for much of the NA's 2008-2013 term, the party was also a key ally of PPP in the Punjab and Balochistan provinces against the latter's main rival, Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N).

History The seeds of PML-Q's birth were planted after the 1997 general election when political differences started developing within members of PML-N, leading to the creation of a faction within the party.

Later in 1999, the PML-N’s government was toppled in a coup d'état led by the then chief of army staff, Pervez Musharraf. It was at that time that dissidents from PML-N led by Chaudry Shujaat Hussain emerged with vocal support for the military coup.

The party was founded in 2000, soon after Nawaz’s dismissal and became an integral part of Musharraf's government acquiring the nickname of ‘King’s party’.

In January 2003, Shujaat was officially named president of PML-Q, after the party emerged victorious in the 2002 election.

Political stance According to its manifesto, PML-Q’s aim is to “strengthen the positives of an open and democratic society to build a better tomorrow”.

The party states that it stands to uphold Islamic and moral values, such as “decency, tolerance and harmony” and aspires to “ensuring justice and freedom of expression”.

The PML-Q also claims the legacy of the original Muslim league, tracing back its lineage to the All India Muslim League of which Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was the president.

Further light is shed on the PML-Q’s ‘ideology’ on its official website, which refers to the 5 Ds: democracy, development, diversity, and more significantly; devolution and defence. PML-Q says it is highly in favour of devolution, with one of its members submitting the 18th Amendment bill in Senate — an amendment which eventually allowed for the devolution of powers to the provinces. It also has been supportive of a the formation of a separate province comprising the Hazara region.

Given its association with the Musharraf regime, it is no surprise that PML-Q also expresses strong and clear support for the armed forces.

Over the years

In the 2002 election, with the patronage of the military leadership at the time, PML-Q emerged as the largest party with 118 seats in the National Assembly.

In 2004, PML-Q’s strength further burgeoned when a number of PML factions — PML- Chattha, PML-Jinnah, PML-Functional and PML-Z — joined the party to form PML.

However, in the 2008 election, the party did not fare so well. With the election looming, PML-F was no longer on good terms with PML-Q and decided to contest polls independently. Many others also went their separate ways. By this point, many had written off the Chaudhrys’ party as all but dead.

The results lay somewhere between their 2002 performance and complete failure. From PML-Q’s formidable presence in the 2002 election, the party was eventually reduced to 50 seats in the NA. In September 2010, PML-Q andPML-F joined hands to form the All Pakistan Muslim League but this association too was short-lived.

Finally, in May 2011, the party joined the PPP-led coalition government at the centre and this alliance managed to last. The partnership was not without its frustrations and compromises with PML-Q parliamentarians getting increasingly uneasy over their demands ‘being ignored’ by PPP.

With many ups and downs and a PPP desperate to manage alliances following the ouster of former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani, eventually the PML-Q managed to add to its achievements the portfolio of the first ever deputy prime minister, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi.

Now, however, PML-Q once again appears to be in hot water. Many members, after a tumultuous journey with PPP, are no longer interested in an electoral alliance with the incumbent ruling party.

With large-scale defections on the cards from PML-Q itself, the now besieged party has to consider whether to stick to its alliance with PPP or to part ways.

On top of all this, the former ‘King’s party’ has to keep in mind that a whole group of parliamentarians, officially grouped under it, have split from the party with the name of PML Likeminded and will not be contesting elections on PML-Q tickets.

The PML Likeminded had emerged in 2009, when a number of senior party members, including Salim Saifullah, Humayun Akhtar, Khurshid Kasuri, Hamid Nasir Chattha, Kashmala Tariq and Riaz Fatyana decided to split with PML-Q.

Kasuri eventually went on to join PTI and Arbab Ghulam Rahim was named president of the new breakaway faction.

Now, the Likeminded group appears to be on board with an alliance with former arch-rivals PML-N.

Key figures

Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, Mushahid Hussain Syed, Moonis Elahi, Kamil Ali Agha, Faisal Saleh Hayat

— Research and text by Heba Islam and Salman Haqqi

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