The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and a breakaway faction of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid don’t seem to be likeminded after all.
The recruitment of some important political figures in the PML-N not only dented the Chaudhrys-led PML-Q but equally affected its breakaway faction, the PML-Likeminded, which had been making attempts to forge an alliance with the Nawaz-league.
After many of its leaders joined Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, the Likeminded group, led by Saleem Saifullah Khan and Hamid Nasir Chattha, made desperate attempts to forge alliance with the PML-N to secure its political future as a separate entity.
The two parties had been negotiating a seats adjustment formula for the next parliamentary elections. But before the papers were even signed, key leaders of the PML-Q, including Amir Muqam, Liaqat Jatoi and Marvi Memon who were considered dissenters in the party, joined the PML-N, leaving little bargaining margin for the Likeminded group.
Sources said negotiations between the PML-N and the Likeminded group, which started a few months back, seem to be heading nowhere as the former has now declined to adjust the latter’s members on seats where they already have strong candidates. The Likeminded group is now left short of options other than contesting the polls individually or for its members to join other parties.
The PML-Likeminded currently claims the support of five MNAs in the National Assembly. It also claims the support of a couple of senators.
In addition, it has the support of six MPAs in the Sindh Assembly, including former chief minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim.
Likeminded group’s Khurshid Kasuri, Lala Nisar, Taj Muhammad Khan and others have already joined PTI. Amir Muquam, an important leader of the PML-Q who had differences with his previous party’s leadership, joined the PML-N along with some MPAs of his party in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. This left no room for the Likeminded group to bargain for K-P except seats for the Saifullah brothers themselves.
Similarly in Sindh, Liaqat Jatoi’s induction in the PML-N has weakened the Arbab Ghulam Rahim-led group, while alliance with the Mumtaz Bhutto-led Sindh National Front has given some support to the PML-N.
By the end of last year, the growing popularity of PTI prompted the PML-N to desperately look for allies – small or big – to keep its political dominance.
Similarly, the PML-Likeminded wanted an alliance with a bigger party after many of its leaders joined the cricketer-turned-politician’s camp. Under this scenario, the two entered into negotiations with the Likeminded group, initially demanding a 30% quota in seats for the next elections.
Recently, the group narrowed down its proposed share of quota to 5 – 6% but that too is not likely to materialise.
Prospects of an alliance or seat adjustment diminished when the PML-N declined to support Haroon Akhtar for a seat in Senate in last month’s polls. His younger brother, Humayun Akhtar, was eying a seat in the next elections to which the PML-N initially gave some positive signals but is now not ready to accommodate him.
Humayun Akhtar and the group’s information secretary Kashmala Tariq could not be reached for comments; however, PML-N deputy information secretary Khurram Dastagir Khan confirmed that the prospects of an alliance have minimised and his party is now looking for people in other parties, including the PML-Q and the Likeminded group, to join the party individually or through a party merger.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 19th, 2012.
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