LAHORE - Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Saturday contracted an electoral marriage with PML-Likeminded, effectively dashing PML-Q hopes its eloped political descendant may someday return to revive its past reverence.
Their agreement on a seat adjustment formula for upcoming polls – in a year being dubbed by many as election year – also caused ripples in federal government pool as the political group pledged to actively participate in N-led campaign to derail the PPP-driven coalition coach.
PML-N Secretary General Iqbal Zafar Jhagra and PML-likeminded Secretary General Hamayun Akhtar Khan signed the agreement (Memorandum of Understanding-MoU) in Raiwind.
Speaking at the press conference where the agreement was announced, Likeminded General Secretary Humayun Akhtar said his group would be allotted 30 (11 percent) general seats of the total 272 in the national assembly in the upcoming elections. The party would get same percentage of general seats in all provinces, he said, adding that allocation of reserved seats for women, minorities and the senate were to be based on other terms. “Likeminded will be given fair representation in parliamentary boards, manifesto committees and bodies for future alliances,” said Humayun.
The Likeminded group, led by Hamid Nasir Chattha, has a good number of political heavyweights of Punjab and Sindh. Last year, this group tried to negotiate an alliance with Imran Khan’s PTI but the talks broke down after Imran asked Likeminded leaders to join his party instead.
The party hit most by this new grouping, PML-Q also has lately been distancing itself from the ruling PPP. It is unclear what future course this king’s party will adopt after permanently losing its knights.
Before signing the electoral understanding, the PML-Likeminded leaders held several rounds of talks with the PML-N bosses. In the latest fruitful engagement on Saturday, as many as 19 members of the Likeminded, headed by their chairman Hamid Nasir Chattha, called on PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and finalised matters of electoral alliance and seat adjustment. They also announced joining hands in the movement against PPP-led government to force the federal rulers respect the judicial decisions and effect the ouster of convicted Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
Both the parties agreed that the Likeminded will be given a reasonable representation in the Parliamentary Board, Manifesto Committee and any other committees which could be formed in the future for the political alliance. They also reached the understanding to allow the respective party to field its candidate in the next elections in the constituency where a candidate of either party is a sitting member or was a runner-up in the last elections. And where neither of the party had fielded the candidate in the last elections, the seat will be open to the both. Both PML-N and Likeminded may request ‘exceptions’ from each other to put and accommodate their strong and reasonable candidates.

Before signing, MoU was also perused by Nawaz Sharif and Hamid Nasir Chattha and they approved it. The delegation of the Likeminded who visited Raiwind also included Saleem Saifullah Khan, Gohar Ayub Khan, Haroon Akhtar Khan, Kashmala Tariq, Ghaffar Qureshi, and Mian Asif. PML-N was also represented by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Opposition Leader in the National Assembly, Ch Nisar Ali Khan, Opposition Leader in the Senate Muhammad Ishaq Dar, Khwaja Muhammad Asif, Sirdar Zulfiqar Khosa, Khwaja Saad Rafiq, Senator Pervez Rashid, Cap (r) Safdar and other.
On the occasion, Likeminded President Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim also held telephonic contact with Nawaz Sharif from Dubai and congratulated him, besides sharing views on the current political situation in the country. Dr Rahim pledged full support of his group to the PML-N movement for respect to judiciary and against loadshedding.
Later jointly talking to media, Iqbal Zafar Jhagra and Hamayun Akhtar Khan said that both the parties were much concerned at the critical situation of the country and in order to steer it out the multiple crisis, they have decided to join hands.
Jhagra said today the country was beset with problems on every side and through a conspiracy instability was being created in Balochistan, Sindh, KPK and Gilgit Baltistan with an aim to weaken Pakistan. He said Pakistan was created under the banner of Muslim League and only this party would now save the country.
Alluding to PPP, he said it was confronting with the institutions to land the country into further abyss. Today, he said, the judiciary was independent, but the federal government was not conceding to its decisions. He said after the SC decision, the convicted prime minister was holding the office which was lamentable.
On the electoral alliance, Jhagra said the Likeminded has always supported the PML-N in the parliament and they will also act jointly outside the parliament for the wellbeing and stability of the country. The unity of the Muslim Leagues, he said, will also send a positive message to the people.
“Today the Muslim League (Nawaz) has the largest vote bank and vital interest of the country demands of it to move jointly. Nawaz Sharif will not shirk from giving any sacrifice for Pakistan.”
Humayun Akhtar termed the day historic and said, the Likeminded wanted to move forward with the PML-N forgetting the past. He said the Likeminded will participate in the PML-N movement against loadshedding and for the respect and dignity of the judiciary.
Responding to question on Ata Maneka, founder of Unification Bloc, who reportedly took independent line from the Likeminded, Hamayun said, Maneka was still Punjab President of their group and he enjoyed good relations with the PML-N. He said Maneka and his unification bloc has always supported the Punjab government. As for the meeting today, he said, Maneka represents Unification Bloc and in order to avoid confusion, he was not called.
Later talking to The Nation, senior Likeminded leader Saleem Saifullah Khan said after this agreement, Naeem Hussain Chattha and others of this group will also be brought to the folds of the united PML under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif, who he said. Saleem sounded upbeat that they had enough electable candidates to fill the 30 allocated seats.
To a question, he said Ata Maneka leads the Unification Bloc which was independent of the Likeminded as such and it would settle the understanding on its own terms with the PML-N.