Muhammad Nawaz Sharif
Iqbal Zafar Jhagra
House # 20-H Street # 10, F-8/3 Islamabad.
Ahsan Iqbal, Deputy Secretary Genral PML(N),
The Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (Urdu: (پاکستان مسلم لیگ (ن) (abbr. PML-N) is a centre-right and conservative political party in Pakistan. It is the majority party in the National Assembly following the general election of 2013, with a supermajority in the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab.
One of several continuing factions of the original Pakistan Muslim League (PML), After Zia's death in 1988, the PML-N assumed its present form under the leadership of Sharif, splitting from the PML led by Muhammad Khan Junejo.
The PML-N was one of the two major parties in the Pakistani political system during the 1990s, along with the Pakistan People's Party. It formed the government (as part of conservative alliance Islami Jamhoori Ittehad) from 1990 to 1993, when parliament was dissolved by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, and 1997 to 1999, when Prime Minister Sharif was deposed by General Pervez Musharraf in a military coup. It was eclipsed by its own splinter faction, the Musharraf-supported PML-Q, until the elections of 2008, when the PML-N was again elected the principal opposition party. It returned to power following the elections of 2013, with Sharif elected Prime Minister for an unprecedented third term. The party's stronghold is the Punjab province; it has formed provincial government an unsurpassed five times since 1985, thrice under Sharif's brother Shehbaz.
In contrast to the leftist PPP, the party's platform is generally conservative, and involves supporting free market capitalism, infrastructure, strong national defense, and opposing regulation and labor unions. According to the International Republican Institute (IRI) survey conducted in 2012, 2013 & 2014 it is the most popular political party in the country.
Breakaway from the original PML
After the partition of India by the English Crown in 1947, the All-India Muslim League (AIML) became the Muslim League, which was now led by Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan. After the assassination of Prime Minister Ali Khan, the Muslim League struggled to revive itself, eventually losing control of the East Pakistan in legislative elections by the Left Front. Internal disagreement over party's direction, lack of political program, motivation for public reforms, and inadequate administrative preparations and mismanagement; all led to the public decline of the party. With the Socialist Party, the Muslim League struggled for its survival while facing the Republican Party and Awami League. The martial law in 1958 eventually outlawed the political parties in the country.
The foundational stone and ground base of the PML(N) lies with the Pakistan Muslim League was founded in 1962, as an enriched conservative project derived from the defunct Muslim League. The PML was presided by Fatima Jinnah who actively participated in presidential elections held in 1965 against Ayub Khan. After Fatima Jinnah's death, the PML was presided by Nurul Amin, a Bengali leader, who deepened its role in West Pakistan.
On a nationalist and conservative platform, the party engaged in political campaign against leftist Pakistan Peoples Party and Bengali nationalist, Awami League in general elections held in 1970. It managed to secure only two electoral seats in the East-Pakistan parliament and only ten in National Assembly of Pakistan. In spite of its limited mandate, Nurul Amin became the Prime Minister and Vice-President of Pakistan— the only figure to have appointed as Vice-President. The PML government was short-lived and soon its government fell as an aftermath of the 1971 war. The PML(N) is ideologically close to the military and holds common beliefs on national security.
After the 1971 war with India, the Pakistan Muslim League went into a political abyss after the death of Nurul Amin and during the first PPP government of the Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. It made a strong comeback in response to the nationalisation program of Zulfikar Bhutto in the 1970s. Influential young activists, including Nawaz Sharif, Javed Hashmi, Zafar-ul-Haq and Shujaat Hussain, ascended as the leaders of the party and started their political career through the Muslim League.
The party became an integral part of the nine-party alliance, PNA, against the PPP and campaigned against the PPP in the 1977 general elections. The party campaigned on a right-wing platform and raised conservative slogans in the 1977 general elections. The party, including Sharif and Hussain, were a conglomerate of diverse views and had provided large capital for Muslim League's financial expenses. It was at that time the party was revived and joined the anti-Bhutto PNA with Pir Pagara, an influential Sindhi conservative figure, as its elected president.
After the martial law in 1977, the party reassessed itself; seeing the rise of powerful oligarch bloc, led by Zahoor Illahi who was the main PML leaders. After the 1984 referendum, President Zia-ul-Haq had become country's elected president. During the 1985 general election, a new PML(N) emerged on the country's political scene. The party had supported the presidency of Zia-ul-Haq and won his support to appoint Mohammad Khan Junejo to the office of Prime Minister. Nawaz Sharif had won the favour and support of President Zia-ul-Haq and approved his appointment as Chief Minister of the Punjab Province in 1985.
1988 general elections
Its modern history started in 1988 parliamentary elections when the Pakistan Muslim League, led by former prime minister Mohammed Khan Junejo, split into two factions: one was led by Fida Mohammad Khan and Nawaz Sharif the then chief minister of Punjab Province, and the other by Junejo (who later founded Pakistan Muslim League (F)). In 1988, the Pakistan Muslim League (N) was founded and established by Fida Mohammad Khan, an original Pakistan Movement activist, who became the party's founding president, whilst Nawaz Sharif became its first secretary-general. The party is not the original Muslim League, but is accepted as a continuing legal successor of the Muslim League.
At the time of 1988 elections, the PML was part of the eight-party Islamic Democratic Alliance (IDA) which had contained the right-wing conservative mass as one entity against the left-wing circles, led by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). The general elections in 1988 marked the emergence of the Pakistan Peoples Party's as the single largest party, with its election to 94 of 237 seats in the state parliament. The IDA occupied 55 seats, but an influential leader, Nawaz Sharif, chose to serve the Chief Minister of Punjab Province. With Benazir Bhutto elevating as the Prime Minister, the IDA nominated Abdul Wali Khan as a compromise candidate Opposition leader in the state parliament. Within 20 months, tales of bad governance and corruption plagued the Pakistan Peoples Party's government. Finally, in 1990, President Ghulam Ishaq Khan charged the PPP government with corruption and lack of governance and dismissed the National Assembly and the first Bhutto government.
1990 general elections
The PML(N) was still part of the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IDA) and participated, under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif, in the 1990 general elections. The IDA competed against the leftist alliance, known as People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA), which had contained the Pakistan Peoples Party and the TeI. The elections resulted in the victory of IDA, with Nawaz Sharif becoming Prime Minister. Through IDA, the conservative forces under Sharif had a chance to form a national government for the first time in the history of Pakistan. With Sharif taking office, his ascendancy also marked a transition in the political culture of Pakistan – a power shift from control by the traditional feudal aristocracy to the growing class of modern and moderate entrepreneurs. For the first time, Sharif launched the privatisation and economic liberalisation policy measures, and Sharif's economics team actually implemented some of the serious economic liberalisation and privatisation measures previous governments had merely talked about.
Election results also showed liberals, the MQM, emerging as the third major party with 15 seats. For the first time in the history of the country, Sharif allowed foreign money exchange to be transacted through private money exchangers. While internationally acclaimed, his policies were condemned by the PPP. Benazir Bhutto mounted pressure on President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, who dismissed the IDA government on 18 April 1993. The PML-N moved the Supreme Court and it restored its government and Sharif hold the office on 26 May. The country's armed forces and the military leadership negotiated with Nawaz Sharif to step down. Culminated at the resignation of Nawaz Sharif, President Ghulam Ishaq Khan was also removed from the Presidency.
1993 elections and opposition
The PML-N gained national prominence in the 1993 parliamentary elections and occupied 73 seats in the state parliament. The PML(N) asserted its role as opposition to the Pakistan Peoples Party. The PML(N) charged Benazir Bhutto with corruption, stagnation, and endangering the national security. The PPP also suffered with its internal faction, one of the faction led by Murtaza Bhutto. The controversial murder of Murtaza Bhutto by Sindh Police and the pressure on MQM further weakened Benazir Bhutto. The PML(N) and Sharif himself were shocked when they learned the news of Benazir Bhutto's dismissal. An ironic aspect of this dismissal was that it was prompted by the then-President Farooq Leghari, a trusted lieutenant of Benazir, who sent her to the Presidency as a safeguard for the PPP’s government after the office was vacated by Ghulam Ishaq Khan. During that movement, Nawaz Sharif travelled through the length and breadth of Pakistan. He also embarked on a train march from Lahore to Peshawar as part of his campaign to oust Benazir.
During this time, the party was among closest to the civil bureaucracy, establishment, and the Pakistan Armed Forces, had close ties and influence in Pakistan Armed Forces' appointments and their military strategies.
1997 elections and power politics
The Pakistan Muslim League (N) struck its remarkable, biggest, and most notable achievement in 1997 parliamentary elections, held on 3 February 1997. After securing the Two-thirds majority in the parliamentary, the only political party to have gained a two-thirds majority since the independence of the country in 1947, roughly fifty years past independence. During this time, it was the largest conservative party, with its members occupying 137 seats out of 207, roughly 66.2%. In 1997, the party secured its win with an overwhelming mandate, and absolutely light and slight opposition. On 18 February 1997, when Nawaz Sharif obtained a vote of confidence, the Pakistan Muslim League assumed the government of Pakistan. Nawaz Sharif allowed Benazir Bhutto to hold the office of Leader of the Opposition, though the PML(N) had the control of the state parliament. The PML(N) government passed the Thirteenth and the Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of Pakistan to stabilizee its mandate and strengthen its position.
In 1998, the law and order situation came under the PML-N's control and economic recovery was also secured. A number of constitutional amendments were made to make the country a parliamentary democracy. In May 1998, the PML-N government led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered six nuclear tests, in response to Indian nuclear tests. The tests were extremely popular and PML-N's image and prestige rose to a record level. However, in 1998, the PML-N government effectively dismissed general Jehangir Karamat (see Dismissal of General Jehangir Karamat) that ruined its public ratings, but marked a perception of the civilian control of the military. Its power politics and repeated dismissals of the military leadership soured its relations with Pakistan Armed Forces and its public ratings gradually went down.
Despite its heavy public mandate, serious disagreements appeared within the party. The 1999 coup d'état took place to end PML-N's government. Controversially, in 1999, the party was significantly divided, further affecting Nawaz Sharif's trial in military court. No massive protests were held by the party; its leaders remained silent and remained supportive towards the military action against Nawaz Sharif. In 2001, the party was further divided by factionalism. Dissenters formed the Pakistan Muslim League, later called Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid-e-Azam) (or PML-Q), which became allies of then president Pervaiz Musharraf. In 2001, Muslim League (Nawaz) formally adopted the name of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), also known as PML(N).
2002 general elections
As a result of the Kargil War with India, the PML(N) government had generated frustration within the party and a secret splinter group inside the party united on a one-point agenda with all the opposition parties in 1999 to remove Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from office. This resulted in a military coup d'état. The Supreme Court validated the coup and gave General Pervez Musharraf three years to hold general elections. After deposing Sharif's government, the party split into several groups and its size shrunk as many of its members decided to defect to the splinter political bloc. Many of its most influential members, sponsors, financiers, came to defect to the new group that was sympathetic to Pervez Musharraf. This splinter group emerged as the Pakistan Muslim League (Q), which registered itself as a political party with the name Election Commission. Sharif was removed from the Party's presidency and the position was handed over to Dr. Kalsoum Nawaz, wife of Sharif. With Sharif exiled to Saudi Arabia, the party's presidency was handed over to Javed Hashmi and the party began to reassert itself in the coming elections. The party campaigned all over the country and competed in the 2002 general elections for the state parliament. The election polls announced the victory of the Pakistan Muslim League (Q) and the liberals, MQM, with PML(Q) retaining the majority in the state parliament and brutally defeating the PML(N).
During 2002 Pakistani general election, the PML-N performed poorly, only winning 9.4% of the popular vote and 14 out of 272 elected members, the worst defeat since its inception in 1988. Hashmi was removed from the party's presidency after his controversial remarks towards the country's armed forces. In an indirect party election, Shahbaz Sharif was elected as the party's new president; and the party's leadership was now based in London. In 2006, the party signed the cooperative declaration with its rival Pakistan Peoples Party to outline and promote a new democratic culture in the country. Known as the Charter of Democracy, the charter was signed by Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto in London and announced their opposition to Musharraf and Shaukat Aziz. In the 2008 general election, the party won urban votes and dominated the provisional assembly of Punjab Province. The party secured a total of 91 seats in the state parliament, just second to the Pakistan Peoples Party, which won 121 seats, and the parties agreed on forming a coalition government. The PML(N) successfully called for impeachment of President Pervez Musharraf and ousted Musharraf from the presidency and exiled him to United States in 2008. But the coalition could not run for too long when Nawaz Sharif announced to support and lead the Lawyers' Movement to restore the suspended famed Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry in 2008. In 2011, the PML-N established its branch in Kashmir Province to participate in Kashmir's general elections.
2008 parliamentary election
After returning to Pakistan, the PML (N) contested the 2008 general election, demanding a restoration of the judges sacked under the emergency rule placed by President Pervez Musharraf and removal of Musharraf as President. After the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, Sharif announced that the PML (N) would boycott the polls, but after some time and conversations with the co-chairman of the PPP, Asif Ali Zardari, Nawaz announced that the party would contest in the polls and began to rally in the Punjab areas. On 18 February 2008, after the polls were closed and the results had been announced, the PML-N gained 68 seats in the National Assembly, just behind the PPP. They announced that they would have discussions on forming a coalition with the PPP which would have half the seats in the 342 seat Parliament. In a press conference on 19 February, Nawaz called for President Pervez Musharraf to step down. Nawaz and Zardari agreed on forming a coalition, and Nawaz announced that he and his party gave the PPP the right to choose the next Prime Minister.
On 13 May 2008, the PML (N) ministers resigned from the government due to a disagreement related to the reinstatement of the judges. Nawaz said that the PML (N) would support the government without participating in it. Zardari, hoping to preserve the coalition, told Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to reject the resignations.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on 27 June 2008, won three and two by-election seats, respectively, to the national parliament. Polls were postponed for the sixth seat in Lahore due to Nawaz Sharif's eligibility contest. A court ruled he was ineligible due to an old conviction, amid a government appeal in the Supreme Court, which will hear the case on 30 June, thus postponing the vote in the constituency. The two parties also won 19 of 23 provincial assembly seats where by-elections were held. The results will not affect the 18 February general election results in which Benazir Bhutto's PPP won 123 seats in the 342-seat National Assembly and Sharif's party came second with 91, while Pervez Musharraf's party came a poor third with 54 seats. Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) won eight provincial assembly seats, while the PPP won seven provincial seats. On 25 August 2008, Nawaz Sharif announced that Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui would be Pakistan Muslim League (N) nominee to replace Pervez Musharraf as President of Pakistan.
2013 general elections
During its election campaign for the 2013 general elections, the party compete against its arch-rival PPP and another right-wing party, PTI. In an unofficial counting, the party has secured the qualified majority in the state parliament, the Punjab Assembly and Balochistan Assembly; it is yet the only party to have secured respectable seats and representation on provisional assemblies of Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The leader of PMLN, Nawaz Sharif became for the third time Prime Minister of Pakistan for the first time in the history of the country.