Muslim League – the essential part of ruling elite in Pakistan

ML factions go strong at times

Some breakaway parts turn into pressure groups

 Its chequered life has witnessed many political crises

Amir Nafees

LAHORE: The political forces always played an important role in the Pakistan’s politics and the history witnessed that Muslim League most of the time remained in power whenever democratic regime existed in the country.

The journey of Muslim League is long as it, despite the fact of bifurcation, did not lose its identification and remain strong as it was at the time when formed. Over a dozen factions of Muslim League from the first day of the formation till now had played its role in the formation of democratic governments.

The tale of Muslim League starts from 1906 when All India Muslim League (AIML) was formed and Sir Sultan Shah, The Aga Khan III was appointed the first Honorary President of the Muslim League. The headquarters were established at Lucknow. There were also six vice-presidents, a secretary and two joint secretaries initially appointed for a three-year term.

The principles of the League were espoused in the ‘Green Book’, which included the organization’s constitution, written by Maulana Muhammad Ali Jouhar. Its goals at this stage did not include establishing an independent Muslim state, but rather concentrated on protecting Muslim liberties and right, promoting understanding between the Muslim community and other Indians, educating the Muslim and Indian community at large on the actions of the government, and discouraging violence.

The idea of a Muslim political party was not new, but Sir Syed Ahmed Khan’s advice to stand aloof from separatist ideas had previously persuaded Indian Muslims to avoid political mobilization. Among those Muslims in the Congress who did not initially join the AIML was Muhammad Ali Jinnah a prominent Bombay lawyer and statesman.

Jinnah did not join the League until 1913, when it changed its platform to one of Indian independence as a reaction against the British decision to reverse the 1905 partition of Bengal. Within a few years, the League had become the sole representative body of Indian Muslims and it won nearly all of Muslim vote in the elections of 1946.

The following year saw the division of the Indian subcontinent and the Muslim League became the major political party of newly formed Pakistan.

By 1953, however, dissensions within the League had led to the formation of several different political parties.

Between 1958 and 1962, while martial law was in force under Muhammad Ayub Khan the League was officially defunct. Later, the League reformed into two separate factions: the Convention Muslim League (under Ayub) and the Council Muslim League.

This latter group joined a united front with other political parties in 1967 in opposition to the group led by Ayub. The Convention Muslim League ceased to exist when Ayub Khan resigned in 1969. The Council Muslim League, which had brought about the founding of Pakistan, was virtually eliminated from the political scene in the elections of 1970.

Since the lifting of restrictions on political parties in 1985 a number of parties have used the name Pakistan Muslim League, but they have little real connection with the original Muslim League. The Muslim League survived as a minor party in India after partition, and since 1988 has splintered into several groups, the most important of which is the Indian Union Muslim League.

Pakistan Muslim League (Functional) PML-F also known as Functional Muslim League or Pir Pagaro group, first formed in 1973 when Council and Convention Leagues merged (without Qayyum Muslim League, which was allied with PPP-led government) and elected Pir Pagaro as president.

Later on, General Zia got all the Muslim Leagues together, but installed Muhammad Khan Junejo as PML president. Feeling uncomfortable, Pagaro left the party and made his own in 1985. Functional League as it was called merged with PML-Q in 2004 under the patronage of General Musharraf, but Pagaro separated again after a few months to form his own league.

Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), the Nawaz Sharif group was founded in 1993. Formed as PML (Fida Muhammad Khan) in 1988 when it split from Junejo’s PML in 1988 after Zia-ul-Haq demise. The new party had Fida Khan as its president and Nawaz Sharif as general secretary. It changed its name to PML (Nawaz) in 1993 when Nawaz Sharif became party president.

Pakistan Muslim League Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q), Quaid-e-Azam group was formed by Mian Muhammad Azhar in 2001 at the behest of the establishment with other like-minded leaders of PML-N including Syeda Abida Hussain, Khursheed Mahmood Kasuri and Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain.

PML-Q presently headed by Chaudhary Shujaat Hussain when he outmaneuvered Mian Azhar to become the president. Officially called Pakistan Muslim League, after the 2004 unification of many smaller PML factions (some of them listed below) and other regional parties.

Pakistan Muslim League Junejo (PML-J), Muhammad Khan Junejo group was officially formed in 1985 as Pakistan Muslim League when General Zia-ul-Haq’s government cobbled together many factions of PML and installed Junejo as its president. It was re-formed as PML-Junejo after Junejo’s death in 1993 by Hamid Nasir Chattha, Manzoor Wattoo and Iqbal Ahmad Khan when Nawaz Sharif became president of his own league. Hamid Chattha became the president and Iqbal Ahmed Khan the general secretary. It also merged with PML-Q in 2004.

Pakistan Muslim League Jinnah (PML-Jinnah) group founded in 1995 by Mian Manzoor Ahmad Khan Wattoo after differences with Hamid Chattha. It also merged with PML-Q in 2004.

Pakistan Muslim League Zia-ul-Haq (PML-Z) the Zia-ul-Haq group, headed by Muhammad Ijaz-ul-Haq, founded in 1999 after the overthrow of Nawaz Sharif government. It also merged with PML-Q in 2004.

It may be mentioned here that Historically, Pakistan Muslim League can also refer to any of the following political parties in Pakistan: Muslim League (Pakistan), the Pakistani branch of the Muslim League, which was disbanded and replaced by the Pakistan Muslim League.

Convention Muslim League, a political platform created by General Ayub Khan in 1962 when he became the President. Council Muslim League, a party created by political leaders who opposed General Ayub Khan. Qayyum Muslim League, a party created by Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan when he split with the Council Muslim League to run for the 1970 general elections.

Awami Muslim League, the newest in the series, is headed by Sheikh Rashid Ahmad. Awami Muslim League was formed in June 2008. Sheikh Rashid Ahmad had served as the Federal Minister for Railways in Pakistan from 2006 to 2008. His previous portfolio has included appointments as Federal Minister for Labor and Manpower, Information and Broadcasting, Industries, Sports Culture, and Tourism and Investment.

It may be mentioned here that the PML-Q was the second main political force that started as a small group of half a dozen like-minded people in the Nawaz Sharif led faction of PML-N. Later on after the 1999 military coup, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain also joined the so-called ‘King’s Party’ because of unconditional support to then President General Pervez Musharraf. Before the general elections in 2002, the group expanded and took the form of the PML-Q.

In May 2004, various PML factions and other political parties merged with the PML-Q to form a united Pakistan Muslim League (PML), thus leaving out only the Nawaz Sharif led faction of PML. They included former President Farooq Leghari’s Millat Party, Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi’s National People’s Party, Arbab Ghulam Rahim’s Sindh Democratic Alliance, Hamid Nasir Chattha’s PML (Junejo), Pir Pagara’s PML (Functional), Mian Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo’s PML (Jinnah), and Ijaz-ul-Haq’s PML (Zia).

Later on Pir Pagaro led faction called the PML-Functional again parted ways with the united PML, which led the number of parties being called Pakistan Muslim League to three; PML-Q, PML-N and PML-F.

The journey of Muslim League expanded to over 100 years and it would not be wrong to say that Muslim League in any form or under any banner remained the part of the government in Pakistan. As things are shaping in the political arena, it seems the Muslim League will be back in the saddle – in what form, or under what title, is too early to comment.


The Muslim League and its factions:

Here is the name of the factions of the Muslim League as:

01) All India Muslim League (AIMU)

02) Pakistan Muslim League

03) Conventional Muslim League of Ayyub Khan

04) Pakistan Muslim League (Junejo)

05) Pakistan Muslim League (Functional)

06) Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz)

07) Pakistan Muslim League (Zia-ul-Haq)

08) Pakistan Muslim League (Momen Jee)

09) Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid-e-Azam)

10) Pakistan Muslim League (Qasim)

11) Pakistan Muslim League (Jinnah)

12) Pakistan Muslim League (Qayum Group)

13) Awami Muslim League (Sheikh Rasheed)

14) Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid-e-Azam)

Note: The scribe regrets if any of the faction of Muslim League missed.

Source: The Post, 8/7/2008

Leave a Reply

  1. وَابْتَغِ فِيمَا آتَاكَ اللَّهُ الدَّارَ الْآخِرَةَ
    وَلَا تَنسَ نَصِيبَكَ مِنَ الدُّنْيَا

    وَأَحْسِن كَمَا أَحْسَنَ اللَّهُ إِلَيْكَ

    وَلَا تَبْغِ الْفَسَادَ فِي الْأَرْضِ

    إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُفْسِدِينَ ﴿٧٧﴾

    Al-Qura’an – Suurah Al-Qasis # 28 Ayat # 77

    Masood Sipra
    E-34 Block ‘F’ Gulshan-e-Jamal,
    Rashid Minhas Road, Karachi./Pakistan
    Cell # 92-(0)300-2144694