The nascent Musharraf-led Muslim League that kicked off with the slogan of ‘Pakistan comes first’ has decided not to allow membership to people of ‘dubious character’, a trait very difficult to define in the Pakistani context.
Along with its membership form for All Pakistan Muslim League, the party is distributing a separate leaflet declaring that “those involved in drugs trade, gambling, corruption, burgeoning religious disharmony would not be allowed party membership”.
The brochure further says that any person ousted from service on charges of misuse of authority cannot be a member as well.
Interestingly, the party’s chief Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf himself is widely accused of this charge during his 10-year tenure since he entered the power corridors through a military coup by suspending the constitution.
Sher Afgan Niazi, the only figure among the former or sitting parliamentarians who is still standing by Musharraf as his firm political follower, when contacted and asked to quote any example where an aspirant was denied party membership on account of these charges, said “I have denied membership to my real brother, a known gambler in my native town”.
“My own brother approached me and said lala (brother), ‘Can I also join your party?’ I told him to run away … you are a known gambler,” said Niazi, who did not give out the name of his brother.
The claims of Musharraf’s associates that many key political figures across party lines were eagerly waiting to join the party were watered-down at the London launch.
However, the party’s office bearers claim that they are receiving thousands of memberships across Pakistan every day from the general public.
Sources close to Musharraf say some known politicians including Hamid Nasir Chattha, Khurshid Kasuri, Amir Muqam, Nisar Memon, Ghulam Sarwar Khan were the last ones among his comrades who abandoned Musharraf at the eleventh hour and opted not to participate in the ‘soft launching’ of their old patron’s party in London.
Most of them were Musharraf’s guests in London till the eve of the launch. And he was shocked to see only Dr Sher Afgan Niazi, Lala Nisar and a couple of his technocrat buddies left standing with him at the Whitehall Club.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2010.