KARACHI: In an interesting development amidst all sorts of political rumours, a delegation comprising prominent members of former president Pervez Musharraf’s All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) called on the Pakistan Muslim League–Functional (PML-F) chief Pir Pagara at his residence on Wednesday.
Representing their party leader, APML’s Gen (retd) Rashid Qureshi, Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif, Dr Sher Afgan Niazi, Chaudhry Fawad and chief organiser for the party Chaudhry Shahbaz showed interest in the recent amalgamation of two factions of the Muslim League. While Pir Pagara said he welcomed Pervez Musharraf’s intended return to the country and his entrance into politics, his tone and his body language did not seem to support his words.
Extending an open invitation to all the other factions of the Muslim League to come under one umbrella, the PML-F chief said that the situation in the country demanded such unification. When questioned about whether the Nawaz League would join the unified party, Pagara responded diplomatically by saying that all those who wished to join in were welcome, while he wished those who didn’t the best of luck.
Not mincing his words, Pagara said the recent talks and meeting between the Muslim Leagues were not on the instructions of the General Headquarters (GHQ).
Speaking on General Kayani, Pagara commented that because of his fragile health, he was unable to go meet anybody, but he would welcome the general if he ever called on him.
Clearly stating that he was unwilling to give any guarantee to and for the former president, Pagara said that, on his return, Pervez Musharraf could join the unified league and then contest within the party to secure its leadership if he chose to.
He also said that whether or not Musharraf would have to face the courts was his own problem.
Musharraf’s options, said Pagara, are limited to standing and getting elected from a constituency of immigrants. On the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pagara said it did not exist any longer. The party in power now is the Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPP-P) and it would be illegal to quote them otherwise, he said.
Reiterating his claim that the next prime minister would be from his party, he added that in the coming days the MQM would also join the unified Muslim League. Pagara predicted Bilawal Bhutto Zardari would be the unified Muslim League’s general-secretary, just as Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2010.
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