The Musharraf takeover was the most stressful time in my political career. I was terribly worried, especially when the Sharifs were sent to jail. When they left for Jeddah, it became my responsibility to keep the party intact and comfort the workers. At the same time, there was intense pressure from the military regime to join the flock, so to say.
Throughout, I strongly opposed Musharraf’s actions and defied his pressure when, like many others, I too could have joined the king’s party he had launched; the Pakistan Muslim League, headed by Mian Muhammad Azhar.
Despite so many sacrifices given in the party’s name and the role I tirelessly played, the party’s leadership has disappointed me. They took away from me the office of the provincial president, which Mian Shahbaz Sharif assumed along with the Chief Ministership.
It is perceived that during their stay in Saudi Arabia, the Sharifs cultivated the habits and temperament of the Saudi regency and demonstrated this attitude after coming home. They literally discarded dedicated workers of the party, those who deserved rewards for their unfaltering allegiance and braving the wrath of military rule. And what’s more, they got carte blanche to take every decision alone without consulting the rest of us.
Every top office of the government and the party now lies with the Sharifs or their kin. They simply don’t trust anyone else.
This really has not served the party well. This arrogance has trickled down to the lower cadres of the party so much so that even ministers and advisers don’t like to meet diehard workers. What’s more, I think the party loyalists in south Punjab have been sidelined and the turncoats and independents have been brought forward.
I remember 1993 when the PML-N’s strength was badly damaged and only a thin number of party legislators could reach the Assembly against the PPP. Now, despite winning the 2013 election with a thumping majority, the party leadership is toeing the same old policies. There are fears of a 1993 repeat situation, and so much of what brought about October 12th is being done once again.a