PAKISTAN MUSLIM LEAGUE (PML) The Pakistan Muslim League of recent times shares only its name with the All-India Muslim League that successfully campaigned for the creation of Pakistan, or the Convention Muslim League that was founded by the supporters of President Muhammad Ayub Khan in 1963, or the rival Council Muslim League that was formed by the opposition to Ayub Khan The PML of the late 1980s and 1990s owes its existence to President Zia ul-Haq, who encouraged those who supported him to form a political party The party was founded and given the name of the Pakistan Muslim League Zia ul-Haq, however, chose not to join the new organization himself When President Zia allowed elections to be held in 1985, he decided to conduct them on a “party-less” basis This decision was motivated by the president’s wish not to give an opportunity to the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) to win power in the National Assembly By boycotting the elections, the PPP fell into the trap laid by Zia The majority of the people elected to the National Assembly were affiliated with the PML This allowed President Zia to call on Muhammad Khan Junejo, the PML president, to take over as prime minister Zia’s death on 17 August 1988 opened the political field to political parties once again, and in the elections of 1988, in which political parties were allowed to contest, the PPP emerged as the single largest party in the National Assembly

The PML, not confident that it would do well in a direct contest with the PPP, encouraged the formation of an alliance of conservative and religious parties under the banner of Islami Jamhuri Itehad (IJI) Although Junejo remained as president of the PML, the IJI coalition was headed by Mian Nawaz Sharif Following the elections of 1988, the PPP, headed by Benazir Bhutto, took office in Islamabad, whereas the IJI, under the leadership of Sharif, was called on to form the government of Punjab The elections of 1990 brought the IJI to power in Islamabad, and Mian Nawaz Sharif became prime minister as the head of the alliance However, Junejo’s death in January 1993 prompted Nawaz Sharif to claim the PML leadership for himself This attempt was interpreted by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan as an effort by the prime minister to concentrate power in his hands The president worked behind the scenes to split the PML The split did occur, and a faction headed by Hamid Nasir Chatta was formed and named PML (Junejo) (PML[J]) This maneuvering by the president brought the military into the fray, which forced both the president and the prime minister to resign A caretaker administration was inducted into office and was charged to hold another election Following the elections of 1993, the PML(J) joined with the PPP to form the government at Islamabad

The PPP-PML(J) coalition government was headed by Benazir Bhutto, who was also able to keep Sharif and the PML out of power, even in Punjab, by getting Manzoor Wattoo elected the chief minister of the province Bhutto’s poor performance during her second administration (October 1993-November 1996) resulted in another general election in which the PML, under Nawaz Sharif, won a massive victory, wiping out both the PPP and PML(J) from Punjab and reducing the presence of the former in the provinces of Balochistan and the Northwest Frontier By February 1997, when Sharif became prime minister for the second time, the PML had emerged as the largest political party in the country See also MUSLIM LEAGUE

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