THE PML(Q), midwifed by General Musharraf two years after he had staged a coup and imposed military rule in October 1999, was finally split almost a month after Ch Shujaat Hussain was re-elected President for the third consecutive term. The Like-minded Group had to go through a lot of hassle to gather around 1500 people to hold a General Council meeting in Islamabad on Wednesday that elected Saleem Saifullah Khan as President, Hamayun Akhtar Khan as Secretary General and Hamid Nasir Chattha ad hoc Chairman of the breakaway faction. It was no surprise to hear from them that theirs was the 'real' faction while the one headed by Ch Shujaat was fake and illegal. But none of them explained what constrained them to accept him as their leader while the party was in power. That the party would not remain intact after Gen (retd) Musharraf's exit from power was a foregeone conclusion. Many among these soldiers of fortune, who had changed their loyalties and joined the artificially contrived power set-up in the past, started seeking pardon from the leaderships of their parent parties ahead of last year's general election. The largest number of defections took place in Punjab where over three dozen PML(Q) members formed a Forward Bloc and supported the campaign launched for Musharraf's impeachment. After the imposition of Governor's Rule in Punjab its members were often spotted at the Sharifs' Raiwind palace. They are now with Mr Chattha and company. The new faction also appears to be tilting in favour of the PML(N). It was interesting to see them apologize to the nation for having committed the grave mistake of supporting a dictator and his cronies, who had caused damage to the judiciary and who were responsible for the bloodshed of innocent men, women and children, at Lal Masjid. Now that they have planned to go to the people to share with them their miseries, they need to keep in mind that they may well have to do a lot of explaining about their conduct in the past.