The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has accelerated its push to bring back defectors back into its fold – and has put in place an elaborate categorisation process for the repatriation, The Express Tribune has learnt.
Following up on an understanding with a breakaway faction of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), who call themselves the ‘Likeminded Group’, Nawaz Sharif has asked the leaders of this group to woo others to the PML-N. The breakaway faction of a party put together from defecting politicians during the reign of Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf includes seasoned leaders such as Hamid Nasir Chattha, Gohar Ayub Khan and Salim Saifullah Khan, and had recently reached an agreement with the PML-N.
Through this deal, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif reconciled with Chattha, an influential politician from Punjab, after about 20 years of political rivalry. In return for their support and help, the Likeminded Group has been allocated an 11% quota of seats, a PML-N official explained while talking to The Express Tribune.
“The alliance with Likeminded has opened the doors and the party leadership had expressed readiness to accept members of Q-league,” he added. However, the process, which can effectively be termed a repatriation of Q-leaguers, given that a vast majority of the politicians in question had left the PML-N, is not just a straightforward process.
Not all members will be welcomed back at the moment.
The PML-N, according to the sources, has identified/categorised PML-Q into three groups. The first group belongs to those people who entered the political arena for the first time during the Musharraf government. Former information minister Muhammad Ali Durrani, Marvi Memon, Tariq Azeem and Engineer Amir Maqum belong to this group. All of them, save Durrani, have already joined the PML-N.
Though Durrani is negotiating with the PML-N leadership for last few months, a formal announcement has yet to come. Durrani while talking to The Express Tribune said that an announcement to this effect would be made soon.
The second group consists of those politicians who had been in politics before Musharraf, but had not inflicted any damage to the PML-N during the PML-Q government. The founder of the Sindh Awami Ittehad and former Sindh chief minister Liaqat Ali Jatoi tops the list of such people, and has already joined the PML-N. Others are expected to follow in this category.
The third and final category consists of those who had damaged their parent party, the PML-N, and sided with the military dictator. This category’s list is topped by the Chaudhry brothers of Gujrat (Shujaat Hussain and Parvez Elahi). The PML-N leadership, according to sources, has not softened up enough to talk to this group let alone accept them back.
At present, the party is working on the first two sets of PML-Q politicians. In this regard, southern Punjab, in particular those districts where the Q-League has a strong presence, is being targeted by the PML-N, sources said, given that the region is in political flux following the heightened narrative for a separate province.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 10th, 2012.