All India Muslim League (AIML) was founded on December 30, 1906 at Dhaka. The party galvanised the Muslims of India on one platform. In 1940 Quaid-e-Azam finally demanded division of the Sub-Continent through the Lahore Resolution. Elections that followed in 1946 AIML bagged 87.20% of the Muslim votes. With the partition on August 14, 1947 AIML was replaced with Pakistan Muslim League (PML). As Governor General the Quaid wanted to focus on his official duties. There was a leadership crisis but the party remained intact till the death of the father of the nation in 1948. In 1949 the brilliant leader from Eastern Wing Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy branched off by forming All Pakistan Awami Muslim League and so did Nawab Iftikhar Mamdot in 1950 in launching Jinnah Muslim League.

Politics remained the domain of only the politicians till the assassination of the first Prime Minister (PM) of Pakistan. Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan. In October 1958 Ayub Khan packed the entire political dispensation by imposing martial law. In 1962 he then created his own brand of Muslim League called Convention Muslim League (CML) with its headquarters on Davis Road Lahore. It was the first ‘Sarkari League’ (SML) those who opposed his move were called Pakistan Muslim League (Council). Khawaja Nazimuddin the political heavy weight from East Pakistan who was Ex-MP and Governor General led the party. In the first free and fair elections of 1970 most factions of the Muslim League were wiped out. Suharwardy’s Awami League, Bhutto’s People’s Party and Qayyum League emerged as major players.

After the partyless elections of 1985 another ‘Sarkari League” emerged from the ashes under the leadership of Pir of Pagara, it was renamed as Pakistan Muslim League (PML). As PM Muhammad Khan Junejo revived and re-organised the party in the country. While at the same time in Punjab Mian Nawaz Sharif as Chief Minister (CM) organised the party with full support of the administrative machinery. After the death of Junejo Sahib, Mian Sahib took control of the ‘Sarkari League’ which is now called PML(Nawaz). With around three decades of misrule over the largest province of the country the party has developed major links and influence in the administration and business community that has been a major beneficiary of their government.

It did not end here. Musharraf’s martial law gave birth to another ‘Sarkari League’ called PML(Quaid-e-Azam) which is now led by the infamous Chaudhry clan of Gujrat. Every time I drive across the Zahoor Elahi Road in Gulberg my blood boils. Perhaps Pakistan is the only country in the world where villains are projected as heroes and then their legacy is pushed down the throats of the people who continue to suffer because of their misdeeds.

Both these ‘Sarkari Leagues’ (PML-N, PML-Q) are not political dispensations rather parties of vested self-interests. The only difference being that PML-N leadership has developed a false notion that it can now take on and prevail over their founding fathers while PML-Q continues to be subservient to them. Both have been designed to exploit not to serve the masses, the only divide being in their capacity and influence. Unless the Takht-e-Lahore’ is dismantled, PML-N will continue to exercise its hegemony both in the province and the country.

AIML was a genuine political dispensation that delivered Pakistan while these ‘Sarkari Leagues’ (CML, PML-N, PML-Q etc.) have only exploited the people by building personal empires. Now that cleansing has started it should not be stalled. The experiment of conceiving and launching political entities has also miserably failed as such it should not be tried again. Only real politicians should enter the political arena through their own merit, based on their record of service to the people.

On August 14, 1973 Pakistan emerged as a constitutional democracy. The agreement between the voter and the voted must be respected and honoured. Violations should not be allowed. The trial of the last usurper under Article-6 of the constitution will perhaps go down in history as the most important democratic contribution of the ‘Sarkari League’. It is called poetic justice but it does not exonerate the party of its own misdeeds. Criminal laws are not time barred, criminals have to face punishment. Now that the judiciary is relatively free the best course for the accused is to present their defence and come out clean or to politically perish in the wilderness.

On Feburary 6, 2019 a sitting minister of the province has been taken into custody by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). Perhaps this has happened for the first time in the history of the country. A new beginning has been made. With the visible end of ‘Sarkari Leagues’ perhaps politics will no longer be the most lucrative business as it has been since 1985. After the political demise of the major faction of PML, the smaller fraction PML-Q still remains in the arena. In the coming days, future of this ‘Sarkari’ outfit will also be closely watched. While AIML has been a jewel, these ‘Sarkari Leagues’ have been blots in the chequered political history of Pakistan. The sooner this process comes to end, the better. Service to the people is all that matters which ‘Sarkari’ parties are unable to comprehend or deliver. The message is clear; ‘lackeys cannot become jockeys”.

 

The Writer is Ex-Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation.

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