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Shujaat meets Musharraf, moots merger of PML groups

LAHORE: The Chaudhrys of Gujrat have renewed efforts to bring all factions of the Muslim League, except the N-League, on one platform in order to introduce a new political force before the 2018 general election.

Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid leaders Chaudhry Shujaat Husain and Moonis Elahi called on former president and APML chief retired Gen Pervez Musharraf in Dubai on Sun­day and discussed with him matters relating to formation of a new party, to be known as ‘United Muslim League’.

“Chaudhry Shujaat and Moonis Elahi have held an important meeting with Gen Musharraf for bringing all Muslim League factions (minus N) under one umbrella. The Chaudhrys have renewed efforts since they feel this is the right time to enter the political arena with a new party in the presence of the PML-N, PTI and PPP,” a PML-Q leader privy to the development told Dawn.

He said the PML-Q believed that there had been a political vacuum, especially in Punjab, and the new party could make its mark in the run-up to the 2018 elections. “The United Muslim League will not only take on board disgruntled leaders of other parties but will also be in position to make seat-adjustment with like-minded parties in the coming elections,” he said, claiming that the effort this time would succeed.

After having a long discussion with the Chaudhrys, Gen Musharraf held a meeting with PML-Functional chief Pir Sibghatullah Rashdi to explore the idea of a “United Muslim League”, the PML-Q leader said.

“Now the Chaudhrys and Musharraf will have a series of meetings with other PML factions and some disgruntled leaders to finalise the plan,” he said.

However, according to a PML-Q spokesman, Chaudhry Shujaat said at the Dubai meeting the political situation demanded that all opposition parties gather on one platform.

“Pervez Musharraf said his heart beats for Pakistan and he wants to return home at the earliest,” he added.

The Chaudhrys had about one-and-a-half-year ago launched efforts for the United Muslim League under the leadership of Gen Musharraf and Chaudhry Shujaat, but these could not bear fruit because of a lack of consensus over leadership and some other issues.

Sardar Zulfiqar Khosa, a veteran politician from southern Punjab and PML-N’s disgruntled leader, who had earlier favoured the reunification of all Muslim League factions, except PML-N, now sees things differently. “For me the chapter of United Muslim League is over. At my place Chaudhry Shujaat, instead of announcing the merger of all Muslim League factions, only talked about the possibility of an alliance among them. After that I am not keen to be part of this effort,” Mr Zulfiqar told Dawn on Sunday.

In reply to a question about returning to the PML-N or joining any other party, the former Punjab governor said: “So far no party has contacted me.”

Imran Masood, a PML-Q leader and former Punjab minister, said his party’s renewed efforts would soon bear fruit. “The PML-Q leadership has started meetings with the heads of other factions of the Muslim League and modalities in this regard will be finalised with them. We are on a mission of strengthening the PML and in the coming elections it will be in a better position to have seat-adjustment with other parties.”

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