After finding itself a lone crusader against the allegedly corrupt PPP government and in order to get its flanks heavier, the PML-N is ready to accept estranged elements from all the political parties, especially the Q-League, since quite a few are just awaiting a nod from the N leadership to rejoin their previous party.
These stalwarts were part of the PML-N prior to Musharraf’s coup, and became part of the military ruler’s coterie and worked for strengthening the King’s party, but have distanced themselves from the Chaudharys of Gujrat especially after the latter joined hands with the PPP.
Political pundits believe that this drive of the N-League is an attempt to send a message across to its arch rival PPP that if it can joined hands with the PML-Q to strengthen itself in the parliament, it would cause dent in the top hierarchy of the Q-League with some of its top leaders joining the ‘N’. Party leaders maintain that this would not cause any embarrassment to those rejoining their old party since it would be like ‘home coming’. “The ‘N’ will also project it as an effort to reunite various Leagues at one platform,” mentioned the leader, adding that the PML-N had already improved its relations with the Unification Bloc in Punjab, and is in contact with the Like-Minded group in the Centre persuading them to come back.
As per the PML-N sources, leaders from different parties, even from the PPP, have either contacted directly or through common friends to get themselves inducted in the opposition party. So far the ‘N’ leadership has not decided about allotting party portfolios to them, but it is expected that fresh inductions with renewed pledges would be given due importance in the party hierarchy in due course.
This is substantiated by the fact that so far the PML-N had accepted quite a few Q-Leaguers. The glaring examples in this regard are of Ch Muhammad Iqbal from Gujranwala, Malik Saleem Iqbal, General (retd) Majeed Awan and his son from Chakwal, Nazir Sultan and his two sons from Jhang, Asim Nazir and Zahid Nazir from Faisalabad and Javed Akhlas from Rawalpindi. These were elected representatives from the Q-Leauge’s platform during Musharraf’s regime. Besides them, the Q’s dissidents in the Punjab Assembly had already joined the PML-N Treasury benches after grouping themselves as the ‘Unification Bloc’.
According to insiders of both ‘N’ and ‘Q’ Leagues, a big name to rejoin the PML-N is of Mushahid Hussain Syed, who was the federal information minister during Nawaz Sharif’s last tenure as prime minister, and presently serving as Secretary General of the PML-Q. “The spade work is complete, and it is only a matter of timing now when the announcement will be made, which is not in the distant future,” confided the source, seeking strict anonymity.
Other probable include former Speaker National Assembly Ch Ameer Hussain, who was defeated by incumbent federal information minister Dr Firdaus Ashiq Awan in the last elections.
Also, estranged PML-Q president Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa MNA Amir Muqam is also expected to join the N-League. He had quit the federal cabinet as Minister Production in protest to party leadership’s alleged slackness in informing its cadres about the coalition deal with the PPP. However, the Q-Leaguers are constantly trying to please Amir Muqam since it would deal a huge blow to party prospects in the province, and would prove hugely beneficial to the PML-N provided he joins Nawaz Sharif.
Also two ladies Bushra Rehman and Neelofar Bukhtiar are said to be joining the N-League. The same is being maintained about Marvi Memon, though she is considered to be closer to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf as well.
When contacted Dr Asif Kirmani, Secretary to PML-N Chief Nawaz Sharif, maintained that as per his party policy, the N-League was open to accept everybody ‘minus Chaudharys of Gujrat’. When the names were mentioned to him, he did not offer his comments for the leaders, but added that a lot of people wanted to join his party. “So far nothing has been finalised, and will welcome those, who believe in the rule of law and genuine democracy,” he averred, while firmly stating that those “who acted as a catalyst in eroding the PML-N, would be denied entry.”