ISLAMABAD: The ban imposed on political parties under the Martial Law Regulation No 48 of October 16, 1979 continued to remain in effect under the Provisional Constitution Order 1981, until the provisions of the Political Parties Act 1962 were restored in 1986.
Following the lifting of martial law and the ban on political parties, a number of political parties were revived. A number of in-office MNAs joined to revive the Pakistan Muslim League under the flagship of the then prime minister Muhammad Khan Junejo and a few of his cabinet members.
Dr Sher Afgan Niazi, in response to this, filed a reference with the speaker of the lower house, requesting him to disqualify 37 members of the assembly for joining an unregistered party, deeming it to be against the rules set for the incumbent assembly. General Ziaul Haq, however, withdrew the ban through an ordinance on May 13 1986 and almost everyone in the elected assemblies instantly joined the new Muslim League. Prime Minister Junejo was made its president.
The more dramatic event was the homecoming of Benazir Bhutto, who returned to Pakistan on April 10, 1986, ending her two-year self-imposed exile. On her return, she was received by thousands of followers at the Lahore airport.
Benazir toured many cities in Punjab before addressing a massive rally in Karachi on May 3.
The Pakistan Peoples Party then on August 14, 1986 launched a nationwide protest to pressurise the government into holding mid-term elections.
Karachi, the traditional power bastion of religious parties, was introduced to a new political stance that year. The Mohajir Qaumi Movement staged a massive rally at Nishtar Park on August 8, 1986 and laid down the case for Mohajirs as the fifth nationality of the country.
Four left-wing parties – National Democratic Party, Awami Tehreek, Pakistan National Party and Pakistan Mazdoor Kisan Party – merged on July 26, 1986 to form the Awami National Party. Khan Abdul Wali Khan was nominated as the new party’s president.
Meanwhile, Benazir Bhutto, co-chairperson of the PPP, expelled senior party leader Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi from the party for siding with the military regime.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 26th, 2013.
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