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The Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q)

From King's party to isolated opposition

Article published on the 2008-05-10 Latest update 2008-05-14 15:08 TU

PML-Q workers on election day in Lahore (Photo: Tony Cross)

PML-Q workers on election day in Lahore
(Photo: Tony Cross)

‘‘We are the first party in the history of Pakistan which has accepted the election outcome,’’ said PML-Q secretary-general Mushahid Hussein a week after the 22 February 2008 poll.

Promising to be a democratic, ‘‘issue-oriented’’ opposition, he claimed that his party was the only one to have a presence in all provinces, although the PPP also won seats in all the Provincial Assemblies which were elected at the same time as the National Assembly.

Mushaid Hussain President PMLQ(photo: Tony Cross)

Mushaid Hussain President PMLQ
(photo: Tony Cross)

In percentage terms, the party’s vote did not suffer compared to its score in the 2002 election, but the number of seats it held was slashed by more than half, and several ministers and party leaders, including the Gujrat Chaudrys, were no longer MPs. Some failed to be elected in two constituencies (Pakistani law allows nervous politicians to stand for more than one seat in the same poll).

The PML-Q was formed from a split in the PML after President Musharraf 1999 sacked Nawaz Sharif as prime minister and drove him into exile. The PML-Q claims to be the true inheritor of the party formed by the country’s founding father, Mohamed Ali Jinna. The Q refers to his honorary title of Quaid-e-Azam. 

In 2004, various other PML defectors joined it to form a new party which laid claim to the title of PML, although it is still universally referred to as PML-Q.

Before the 2008 election it was an unstinting supporter of Musharraf and was known as ‘‘the king’s party’’.

The Pakistan Human Rights Commission described the 2002 election, which legitimised the PML-Q-led government, as ‘‘lacking in fairness and transparency’’, while international observers, including those from the EU and the Asian Network for Free Elections, said they were deeply flawed.

Like all of Pakistan’s main parties, the PML-Q has been frequently accused of fraud, nepotism and corruption.