Musharraf Could be Back as Head of New Pakistani Party

Pakistan’s former military dictator Pervez Musharraf could soon stage a political comeback as head of a new party combining all factions of the Muslim League except the ruling PML-N of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, ahead of local body elections.

Efforts have been intensified to form the party – United Muslim League – after uniting all factions of Muslim League except Sharif’s PML-N.

PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain yesterday held a meeting with 72-year-old Musharraf, head of All Pakistan Muslim League at his residence in Karachi and agreed to merge all factions except PML-N to form a “new look party”.

“I met with General Musharraf, PML-Functional chief Pir Pagara Sibghatullah Shah Rashidi and former Sindh chief minister Syed Ghaus Ali Shah, who was once a close aide of Sharif. They all are unanimous on formation of the United Muslim League,” Hussain told reporters.

He said efforts are also on to take all those Muslim League leaders and workers on board who are not happy with the policies of the Sharif brothers – Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif.

The new party is likely to be formed before local body elections scheduled to be held by the end of the year.

There has been a feeling in all Muslim League factions except PML-N, that they should be united and form a new political force to challenge the PML-N and Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. They believe that under Musharraf’s leadership all the Muslim League factions can perform well.

Musharraf returned to Pakistan in 2013 after over four years in self-exile but faces a slew of legal cases including the high profile treason case under Article 6 of the Constitution for imposing emergency in the country in 2007, the first army chief to face such a prosecution. He has also been charged in the judges’ detention case. Musharraf is also indicted in the 2006 killing of Baloch nationalist leader Akbar Bugti and the 2007 assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto.

The former president is upbeat about his acquittal in the court cases as he claims the people of Pakistan remember his “good work” during his tenure (1999-2008) in which the country’s financial health was much better than now with no loadshedding of electricity or closure of industry.

Former Punjab governor Sardar Zulfiqar Khosa who parted ways with the Sharifs after developing differences with them said that he had called on Hussain and discussed formation of the new party.

“We earlier had discussed about forging an alliance of all Muslim Leagues but later decided to form a new party,”he said.

Khosa who has a strong following in D G Khan district of Punjab said he had met at least 75 PML-N MNAs (members of national assembly) and MPAs (members of provincial assembly) from central and upper Punjab who are not happy with the “dictatorial mindset” of the Sharif brothers.

“The Sharifs believe in one-man show and do not give respect to the party men. These parliamentarians may join hands with us at an appropriate time,” he said.

“Decisions in the new party will be taken after mutual consultation, not what is happening in the PML-N where a ‘Mughal king’ (Nawaz Sharif) is running the party and the government singlehandedly. Once all modalities regarding its formation are finalised its head will be picked in consultation with all leaders,” Khosa said.