A key political battle has reached a critical point in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa – a battle that could have far-reaching consequences for the parties involved: the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q).
Engineer Amir Muqam, a stalwart of the PML-Q, has finally made up his mind to jump ship in a move that will effectively wipe out his former party from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).
In a meeting with Nawaz Sharif at Raiwind, Amir Muqam – who is the chief of PML-Q’s K-P chapter – said that he would publicly announce his decision of joining the PML-N within a few days, according to a handout issued by the PML-N.
The move came literally hours after PML-Q president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain on Tuesday night announced that the provincial chapter of the party stood dissolved. Muqam immediately rebelled against the decision.
The change of heart is not sudden or surprising. It came after months of negotiations between the Muqam and the PML-N.
Attendees at Wednesday’s meeting included PML-N’s senior leaders from K-P Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, Sardar Mehtab Abbasi, Fareed Toofan and Pir Sabir Shah.
Sources say that Jhagra and Abbasi had been instrumental in winning over a disillusioned Muqam.
Now, Muqam will convene a PML-Q general council meeting where around 600 councilors would announce joining the PML-N.
In fact, sources say that Sharif and Muqam agreed that the entire K-P chapter of PML-Q would merge with the PML-N and then Nawaz would visit Muqam’s village in Malakand division where he would address a public gathering.
PML-Q’s Central Information Secretary Kamil Ali Agha told The Express Tribune that since Muqam was no longer president of the party’s K-P, he could not convene a general council meeting.
Intikhab Chamkani, PML-Q’s general secretary in K-P, believes that “only some senior PML-Q leaders including Bacha Lala and Sarzameen Khan will be joining the PML-N”. However, he added that PML-Q’s organising committee, which is scheduled to meet on March 31 in Islamabad, would make a formal decision about the future of PML-Q in K-P.
Sources say that the organising committee is likely to divide the province into four parts – Hazara, Malakand, Peshawar and southern districts – for better organisation.
They added that Muqam is likely to be made senior vice president of the PML-N. The party has already given full mandate to Muqam for the next elections in Malakand division.
PML-Q lawmakers in K-P Assembly, seven in number, are divided on the issue of merger with the PML-N. However, Muqam’s loyalists prevailed on a smaller group of dissidents, led by MPA Nighat Yasmeen Orakzai.
Orakzai criticised Muqam for “going back on his words”.
“In a recent meeting Amir Muqam had promised Chaudhry Shujaat that he would not switch loyalties,” she told The Express Tribune. She said that Muqam was not a trustworthy politician as he had first ditched the Jamaat-e-Islami and now Chaudhry Shujaat. She added that she and her supporters would resist Muqam’s possible move “with full force”.
Interestingly, the PML-N has accepted in its folds a man whom former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, a bitter foe of the Sharifs, once called a ‘brother’ for his unflinching support in K-P. Muqam was also instrumental in introducing and then strengthening the PML-Q in the province.
After the loss of Muqam, who is quite influential in Malakand division, the PML-Q would be literally wiped out from K-P as its key leaders in Hazara division have already left the party over the issue of a Hazara province.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 29th, 2012.
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