ISLAMABAD - Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf is set to launch a campaign for a ‘national government’ in the coming weeks in alliance with Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) chief Tahirul Qadri after forming the Muttahida (united) Muslim League, The Nation learnt.

“The formation of the Muttahida Muslim League (MML) is expected soon after the Eid (likely on July 18). The new party will then form alliance with the likeminded parties. Qadri’s PAT is one of them. The campaign will be for the national government and reforms”, Dr Amjed Chaudhry, the Secretary General of Musharraf’s All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) said.

“Qadri is already our ally. We contested the Gilgit-Baltistan elections together. We are in contact with other like-minded groups as well”, Chaudhry added.

He said the telephonic conversation between Musharraf and Qadri was part of the two leaders’ regular interaction. “We have been in contact in the past so this is nothing new”, he maintained.

Chaudhry said Musharraf, who ruled the country from 1999 to 2008, thinks the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has lost its mandate to rule so a national government, acceptable to all, should be formed to introduce reforms before holding general elections.

“The (proposed) national government can complete the rest of the tenure (until 2018) and then hold elections. There is a lot needed to be done before going into the polls. Electoral reforms are needed to check rigging and bureaucratic reshuffle is necessary to ensure neutrality”, he elaborated.

The APML leader said that PML-Quaid-e-Azam, PML-Functional, PML-Junejo, PML-Likeminded and other groups will form the new party. “All the parties will merge to form the new party. The Awami Muslim League (AML-led by Sheikh Rashid Ahmed) is also being contacted”, Chaudhry said.

“After the formal announcement (regarding the formation of the new party), we will discuss alliance with the likeminded parties and then launch our campaign for the national government. This government does not deserve to continue”, he remarked.

Some factions of the Leagues registered with the Election Commission of Pakistan include PML-N, PML-Qasim, PML-Qayyum Group, PML, PML-Zia, Pakistan Fatima Jinnah Muslim League, PML-Sher-e-Bangal, AML, Pakistan National Muslim League, APML, PML-Muttahida, People’s Muslim League, Pakistan Muslim League Council, Pakistan Muslim League Democratic, Muttahida Muslim League, PML-Safdar, PML-Likeminded, PML-Junejo, PML-Nazaryati and PML-Zehri Group.

Musharraf telephoned PAT chief Tahirul Qadri the other day. “Both leaders discussed matters of mutual interest including the prevailing political situation in the country. Pervez Musharraf invited Dr Qadri to visit Karachi”, a spokesman of Qadri’s PAT said later.

Musharraf also talked about the Model Town tragedy with Qadri and said that such incidents were not acceptable to any society of the world, said the spokesman.

Talking to The Nation, PAT President Raheeq Ahmed Abbasi said alliance with Musharraf’s party had been in effect for some time now. “We share agenda, we have the same point of view on many issues”, he said. Abbasi said the PAT and the APML had contested the elections together in Gilgit-Baltistan and were determined to carry the alliance forward.

But he said, “Our party will have its own identity and will not merge with the new Muslim League. Once the (PML) factions have merged, we will discuss the future line of action as allies.”

The PAT president said that like Musharraf, Qadri also wants to see a national government in place to ensure reforms before holding general elections. “We believe that elections under a corrupt system will be a futile exercise. We can wait for reforms by a national government and then go to polls in a clean environment”, he mentioned.

He said the PAT will not forgive the government for the Model Town killings and “will not rest until the culprits are brought to justice”. “We were there for the sit-in for 70 days (in Islamabad). We protested across Pakistan and we held a demonstration only recently in Lahore. We will not give up until the killers are punished”, Abbasi asserted.

Asked, if the APML and the PAT will launch a campaign immediately after Eid, he said, “The decision has to be taken after consultations but this movement is definitely on”.

Abbasi said the PAT has good ties with the PML-Q leadership and the party was in contact with other opposition parties too to put pressure on the government. “The people are fed up with the policies of the government. We will have a good alliance of the opposition to bring a change”, he concluded.