KARACHI: Chief of the Awami Muslim League (AML) Sheikh Rashid Ahmad has suggested that all parties under the banner of the Muslim League should merge under the leadership of Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) chief Pir Pagara.
Ahmad made the suggestion during a meeting with Pagara at Kingri House in Karachi on Thursday. “It is high time that the country finds alternative leadership as the current rulers have failed miserably to stabilise the economy and political situation in the country,” he said.
In response to the offer, Pagara expressed his cooperation and also supported the idea of a merger. “The leadership issue will be discussed after consultation with the chiefs of the factions and if they nominate my name, then I will accept it,” Pagara said.
Speaking to reporters in his office after the meeting, Pagara said that those who called for army or martial law in the country did not have the political stature or eligibility to make that demand. Referring to the statement made by Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain, Pagara said that he (Hussain) could not influence anyone but migrants. He said that PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif had no future in Punjab, and Sheikh Rashid Ahmad would actively participate in politics there.
Speaking on former president Pervez Musharraf’s intended return, Pir Pagara said he is a general and not part of the Muslim League, and any ambitions he had of forming a political party purely exist in his dreams. Pointing out that no former president has been able to acquire the same post again, Pir Pagara commented that Musharraf was wasting his time by thinking of returning to the country. However, he supported the point that the army was ready to and could step in any time. “All the generals are patriotic and the army is always ready for anything,” said Pagara. However, he said, the judiciary has several crucial decisions to make, which need to be taken for the country to move forward.
Scoffing at Imran Khan’s chances of ever becoming prime minister, Pagara predicted that the next head of the National Assembly would be from his party.
Ahmed told reporters that he and other chiefs felt that Pagara was an elderly figure who could unite everyone and gain everyone’s confidence.
Meanwhile, Sheikh Rashid left the door slightly open, saying while Musharraf has not contacted him thus far, he will wait and see how matters pan out once he makes his return.
In the end, Pagara said that no feudal lords were alive and their children now had to do the job of making decisions for the country. To a question about Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s political future, Pagara said, “he will be my secretary.”
Meanwhile, PML-Quaid President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain will arrive in Karachi on Friday. He is scheduled to meet Pir Pagara at the Kingri House at 1 pm to discuss the future course of action in terms of a merger. Other party members are also expected to accompany him.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 17th, 2010.