Pakistan Muslim League (Likeminded) is likely to disintegrate as its two senior leaders – Humayun Akhtar and his younger brother Senator Haroon Khan – met with PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif on Saturday and pledged their allegiance to the party while presenting some of their demands, sources told The Express Tribune.
According to sources, PML-N refused Akhtar a ticket to contest in elections from Lahore, but was asked to prepare from Faisalabad division, where his sugar mill is located in Sumandri.
Although Akhtar has agreed, he requested Sharif to ask Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to sanction development schemes for his new constituency.
The meeting with Sharif was arranged by Senator Ishaq Dar and was held at Rawind. Sharif’s political secretary confirmed the meeting, but said only current politics were discussed. Sources said that Haroon Akhtar demanded a Senate ticket as a technocrat, for which he has been asked to wait, but speculated that the PML-N might fulfill his demand.
Background of the meeting
Sources in both parties told The Express Tribune that before the start of the current sugar crushing season, both brothers have donated Rs50.5 million to the party funds on behalf of the sugar mills association. They said that the brothers have considerable influence in the association.
However, Akhtar told The Express Tribune that he has handed over Rs100 million to Shahbaz Sharif for flood relief efforts, presenting it on behalf of the sugar mills association. He said their meeting with Sharif was to finalise an agreement on seat adjustments for the Senate election. To a query regarding the surety of his seat, he said he could not comment on it till the agreement was signed.
Sources said that Dar advocated Haroon’s case of being given a technocrat seat in the Senate, which has been deferred for some time due to his maternal uncle Farooq Khan, who is being considered for a Senate seat in the general cadre.
Punjab’s PML-N senators
Sources said that out of a total of 11 retiring senators from Punjab, the PML-N has a share of six and one was recently inducted in the non-Muslim seat. The break-up of PML-N’s senators is: four of general, and one each of lady, technocrat and non-Muslim.
A prominent official of PML-N told The Express Tribune that if Haroon Akhtar fails to get a Senate ticket, then his maternal uncle Senator Farooq Khan will most probably get it. Farooq Khan is the richest industrialist from Faisalabad division and has served as a PML-N senator in 1997.
Sources said the PML-N was willing to sell its seats for huge sums as it contests for the Senate elections. Out of PML-N’s four general seats, two are likely to be awarded to Senator Ishaq Dar and Sardar Zulfiqar Khan Khosa and the rest would be ‘sold.’
Bishop Alexander John Malik and Michael Nazir are the two top contenders for Senate seats of non-Muslims, while Haroon Akhtar is eyeing the technocrat seat.
PML (Likeminded) is a dissident group of the PML-Q in upper and lower houses and in some seats in the Sindh Assembly. Akhtar is its president while his younger brother Haroon is its active member in the Senate.
Although Akhtar is the president of PML (Likeminded), he has been inclined to support PML-N at each and every step. However, a large faction of the PML (Likeminded) did not agree with their stance and preferred to start talks of an alliance with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s leadership.
Of the two factions, one is led by Akhtar, while the other was led by PML-Q MPA Hamid Nasir Chatha and Khurshid Kasori. Kasori has joined the PTI against the wishes of his colleagues who wanted an alliance instead.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 5th, 2012.