Pakistan Muslim League
|Historical leaders||Ayub Khan
Pir Pagarah VII
Abdul Qayyum Khan
Muhammad Khan Junejo
|Current Leaders||Nawaz Sharif
Pir Pagarah VIII
|Founded||8 June 1962|
|Dissolved||17 August 1988|
|Preceded by||Muslim League|
|Succeeded by||Pakistan Muslim League (N)
Pakistan Muslim League (J)
Pakistan Muslim League (F)
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
The Pakistan Muslim League (Urdu: پاکستان مسلم لیگ; known as PML), is the name of several Pakistani political parties that have dominated the Right-wing platform since 1960s. The first Pakistan Muslim League was founded by President Ayub Khan in 1962 as a successor to the original Muslim League. Just a short period after its foundation, the party broke into two factions: Convention Muslim League that supported the President and the new Constitution, and the Council Muslim League, that opposed the new Constitution, denouncing it as undemocratic that made the Presidency an autocratic position. Following President Ayub's resignation, Nurul Amin, a Right-wing political veteran, attempted to reunite the factions of Pakistan Muslim League. His efforts were supported by some, while opposed by others. Before the 1970 Elections, a senior leader of Council Muslim League, Abdul Qayyum Khan formed his own variant of the Muslim League that opposed cooperation with a party that once supported a Dictator. In 1973, Amin's efforts succeeded and the Functional Muslim League was founded.
The Pakistan Muslim League formally dissolved alongside other parties following the 1977 Martial Law, though it supported it. However, it was restored in 1985, when General Zia organised his supporters into a formal party under the leadership of Muhammad Khan Junejo. In 1988, after Zia's death, Pakistan Muslim League came under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif and joined the Islamic Democratic Alliance. In 1993, after the dissolution of Alliance, Pakistan Muslim League also split into Pakistan Muslim League (N) and Pakistan Muslim League (J). After the 1999 Coup, PML-N went into a temporary decline and three new factions of Pakistan Muslim League were founded: Anti-Musharaf PML (Zia), Pro-Musharaf conservative Awami Muslim League and Pro-Musharaf liberal PML-Q
In 2004, the Pakistan Muslim League (Q) and the Pakistan Muslim League (F) reunited as Pakistan Muslim League. However, the reunion was unsuccessful and within few days, both the parties went off in separate directions once again.
The Original Party
At the time of Pakistani independence in 1947 the Muslim League was the only major party in Pakistan and claimed the allegiance of almost every Muslim in the country. However, Mohammad Ali Jinnah had other plans after his appointment as the first Governor-General of the new state. His maiden speech to the Constituent assembly on 11 August 1947 spelled out, as Magna Carta of the future agenda, each and every important feature of Pakistan’s polity that was based on equality of all citizens, federal parliamentary democracy and rule of law to name a few of them. He also had his own perceptions about the party he was heading. He thought that the All-India Muslim League must have a constitutional and legal successor as an organisation that was to rule the new born country. To achieve the target, he convened in November 1947 a session of the AIML Council and it was held in Karachi on 14 and 15 December upon invitation sent by the party’s convener Liaquat Ali Khan, who had taken over as the first prime minister. The council decided to establish two organisations of the AIML. Its nomenclature in India was to remain the same while it was Muslim League for the new state. Hussein Shaheed Suhrawardy, who had been the AIML-nominated prime minister of Bengal in 1937 and held the same office after 1946 elections, did not agree to 'Muslim League' as the name of AIML in Pakistan. He pleaded the word "Muslim" had lost its efficacy after independence and the organisation might be named as Pakistan League. Moreover, he claimed that Muslim League's objective of Muslim Nationalism was unrealistic and instead Pakistani Nationalism should be focused on. Suhrawardy's suggestion was not accepted, thus, he parted ways with the party to found the Awami League in 1949. This was to serve the first shock to the country’s political structure. The first party convention of Muslim League held in Karachi in February 1948, elected Chaudhry Khaliquzzaman as the chief organiser and elected a new PML Council. Khaliquzzaman appointed provincial organising committees. The first meeting of the new party council, held in Karachi in April 1949, elected Khaleequz Zaman as the party president and also incorporated a new clause in the constitution according to which no party office-bearer could become a minister or accept any office of benefit But events that followed in the wake of differences in Muslim League ministries in Sindh and Punjab, led to the exit of Sindh chief minister Khuhro and the elevation of Pir Ealhi Bukhsh as the new chief minister. In Punjab, Sikandar Hayat allied with Mumtaz Daultana to controvert chief Minister Nawab Zulfiqar Khan Mamdot. These skirmishes weakened the ruling party. It was in this background that Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, who already had a meeting with the Quaid-i-Azam in Peshawar in May 18 1948, announced the formation of a Marxist party with the objective of serving as opposition to the Capitalist regime.
Ghaffar Khan was the new party's president and G M Syed, who has been a staunch Leaguer and became highly instrumental in the passage of a Sindh Assembly resolution in favour of Pakistan as back as 1936, the secretary-general. A month later Ghaffar Khan was arrested under the Frontier Crimes Regulations. More or less at the same time, Mian Iftikharud Din, a leftist feudal who was the Punjab president of the Muslim League at the time of independence and later disillusioned with the PML affairs like G M Syed, founded with like-minded people like Mian MahmoodAli Kasuri, Faiz Ahmad Faiz etc., the Azad Pakistan Party in Punjab and it remained in opposition to the Muslim League government in the provincial assembly. The party had a number of Communist Party members in it fold. The party held regular meetings showing concern over the provincial and central governments till 1953 when most of its leaders were arrested in the Rawalpindi Conspiracy case leading to its demise.
After the death of the Quaid-i-Azam, provincial organisations were elected. Mumtaz Daultana was elected as Punjab president on 25 Nov 1948 and Khuhro, who was facing corruption charges under the Public Representative Office Disqualification Act (PRODA) before a special tribunal, was returned Sindh president unopposed on 5 Dec. Khuhro was convicted for three years in prison. But Sindh Chief Court acquitted him on an appeal and he re-took the party office that he had relinquished in view of trial against him. Liaquat Ali Khan the PML organisations started a campaign against Chaudhry Khaliquzzaman, the party president and chief organiser, and he quit both the office leaving two major party offices vacant. The party’s central council met in Karachi on 8 Oct 1950 and elected Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan the new party president.Following his footsteps, Punjab chief minister Mumtaz Daultana took over as the president of the provincial party and NWFP chief minister Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan also became the provincial party chief.The process continued as Khwaja Nazimuddin, who was the country’s second Governor-General after the Quaid-i-Azam, was elected as prime minister after the assassination of Liaqat Ali Khan. Pakistan’s finance minister Ghulam Mohammad then became the third GG. Later, Nazimuddin also became the PML president on 16 Nov 1951. Also all the prime ministers were "elected" the PML presidents and all chief ministers the provincial presidents of the party. The only exception was Chaudhry Mohammad Ali who took over as the prime minister after Mohammad Ali Bogra. Bogra was also the PML president but with Chaudhry Mohammad Ali as the prime minister, Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar was elected the PML president.
The first humiliation that the PML faced was the election in East Pakistan where Awami League headed by H S Suhrawardy with Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhshani as the AL president of the East Pakistan organisation and Krishik Saramic (Peasant and labour) of Sher-e-Bangla A. K. Fazlul Haq formed the Jukto (United) Front. The Front inflicted so heavy a defeat on the PML as to reduce it to bag only 10 of 238 Muslim seats in the 300-member East Pakistan Assembly. The defeat was so complete as to see Nurul Amin, the provincial chief minister and PML president of the province, losing against young man who contested on the AL ticket. Sher-e-Bangla A. K. Fazlul Haq was elected the new chief minister but the central government imposed governor’s rule after bloody riots in three factories, Khulna Jute Mills, Khulna Match Facorty and Karnafulli Paper Mills. Maj Gen Iskandar Mirza, a member of the federal cabinet, was appointed the governor. He held the Communist Party responsible for riots. The party was banned and hundreds of its activists arrested,Governor-General Ghulam Mohammad dissolved the Constituent Assembly on 24 Oct 1954 at a time when the west and eat Pakistan leadership had reached a consensus formula for the new constitution and all in Pakistan expected the constitution would be adopted in another one month or so. Speaker Maulvi Tameezud Din Khan moved the Sindh High Court despite all difficulties that included closing down in the assembly building with a lock on the main gate. The SHC declared the governor-general’s dissolution order as illegal and restored the constituent assembly. The federation moved the Supreme Court in an appeal which was accepted by a bench headed by Chief Justice Mohammad Munir who used, for the first time, the phrase of "Doctrine of necessity". Simultaneously, GG appointed a new team of minister who also included Iskandar Mirza, Dr Khan Sahib and C-in-C Gen Mohammad Ayub Khan in uniform. Bogra was retained as prime minister and he announced the formation of One-Unit of West Pakistan on 22 Nov 1954. H S Suhrawady also joined the cabinet later. Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani was appointed the first governor of West Pakistan and Dr Khan Sahib became chief minister.
The new junta forced Ghulam Mohammad to resign and Iskandar Mirza became the new Governor-General on 6 Aug 1955 with Chaudhry Mohammad Ali as prime minister. He was heading a coalition government at the center comprising PML, Awami League and Krishak Saramik Party. After the passage of the maiden constitution in 1956, Iskandar Mirza became the first president of Pakistan. Party president Sradar Abdur Rab Nishtar asked the party to form a parliamentary group in the new assembly. The process began with conspiracies and Iskandar Mirza had his own plans. He wanted his close friend Dr Khan Sahib to head the party. Leaguers did not trust him as parliamentary leader. They wanted Sardar Bahadur Khan to be their leader and elected him as such with the support of 127 members.. But Dr Khan Sahib, also the interim chief minister, used his close association with the powerful president as a lever and solicited the support of about 70 members of the house called "The One-Unit Group". Most of them were "Muslim League stalwarts" and custodians of the ideological front belonging to their old Unionist Party". As the chances of Dr Khan Sahib becoming dim as parliamentary leader, Iskandar Mirza decided to float the idea of forming the Republican Party with Dr Khan Sahib as president. The new party caused a huge defection in the ML camp and most of its members joined the Republican Party overnight. This Punjab-centered party later formed the new West Pakistan government.
Two powerful Bengali leaders and former Muslim League members, Hussein Shahid Suhrawardy and Maulvi A K Fazlul Haq, used their own parties, the Awami League and the Krishak Sramik Party (Workers and Peasants), in a joint effort in 1954 to defeat the Muslim League in the first election held in East Pakistan after independence. Fazlul Haq had made the motion to adopt the historic "Pakistan Resolution" in 1940, and Suhrawardy, subsequently the last chief minister of undivided Bengal, had seconded it. Both men were alienated by West Pakistani domination of the Muslim League. Suhrawardy was elected leader of the opposition in the second Constituent Assembly and in 1956 was appointed prime minister, a further loss for the Muslim League because he was the first non-Muslim League politician to hold this position. By this time, the Muslim League had lost its influence in both East Pakistan and West Pakistan, having also lost its majority in the West Pakistan Legislative Assembly to the Punjab-centered Republican Party.
First Phase (1962-1969)
The promulgation of martial law in 1958 and the dissolution of all political parties finally resulted in the demise of the Muslim League after its fifty-two- year existence.Gen Mohammad Ayub Khan, the first Commander-in-Chief after Pakistan came into being, assumed power imposing the first Martial law in the country on 8 Oct 1958, on the insinuation of Iskandar Mirza. He took over first the chief martial law administrator but within days booted out Mirza to become the president and banned all political parties including the ruling Republican Party and the ML. But Ayub Khan was a politically ambitious person. In 1962, he lifted martial law and, for the first time used as the dictator of the time, the Pakistan Muslim League that he formed at a "Convention" as was named the Convention Muslim League. All the Republican Party members joined the Convention League. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a young member of the martial law cabinet, was appointed by Ayub Khan as the first secretary-general of the CML and he was succeeded by Malik Mohammad Qasim who later used to say that "That (becoming CML’s secretary-general) is the only black spot on my fair political face”. The other PML of the time was he Council Muslim League headed by Mumtaz Daultana and included people like Abdul Qayyum Khan. Ayub held Basic Democracies elections in 1964 using his party for the first time. He used 80,000 BD members to form an electoral college for the presidential election in Pakistani presidential election, 1965 in which he faced Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s sister Fatima Jinnah as a strong opponent with Council Muslim League throwing its weight behind her. Though Ayub won, he fell from grace and was ultimately made to quit in the wake of a popular movement that the newly formed Pakistan People's Party (formed on 30 November 1969 in Lahore). But when Ayub left, he handed over Pakistan to Army Commander-in-Chief Yahya Khan to impose the second martial law.
Second Phase (1969-1977)
After the resignation of President Ayub Khan, Pakistan Muslim League once again united under the leadership of the conservative political veteran, Nurul Amin. Although the schims came closer ideologically, they were not ready to accept each other's domination. This is the reason that the schims competed against each other in 1970 Elections.
Following the death of Nurul Amin, the PML went into political abyss but made its notable comeback in a direct response to nationalization and the outgrowth of leftism in the country under the Bhutto administration. In the 1970s, the PML led by Pir Pagara was benefited with the financial support of industrialists, including Nawaz Sharif and Shujat Hussain, and intelligentsia that included lawyers, Fida Mohammad and Javed Hashmi.
Efforts of Pir Pagara assimilated of majority of the factions of the Pakistan Muslim League, in a bid to mount a strong opposition to the leftist Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in the 1970s. It may be noted that all factions will continue to hold their individual identities, as the PML was treated as a platform for parties to come together.
Third Phase (1977-1985)
In 1977 Martial Law, General Zia-ul-Haq took power after overthrowing the Bhutto government. In 1985, after the election, Zia appointed Muhammad Khan Junejo as the new Prime Minister. Junejo, with a large group of pro-Zia conservatives founded an entirely new party by the name of Pakistan Muslim League. Junejo however soon started to loose the support of party due to his opposition to Zia. Meanwhile, other influential politicians like Nawaz Sharif and Fida Mohammad Khan started to gain power.
After the Death of Zia-ul-Haq in 1988, democracy returned and new Pakistani general election, 1988 elections were supposed to be held. Junejo spilt away from the party and formed Pakistan Muslim League (J). Meanwhile, Fida became the party chairman and Sharif the General-Secretary. Pakistan Muslim League allied with Jamaat-e-Islami and other right-wing parties to form the Islamic Democratic Alliance against the left-wing Pakistan Peoples Party. This event marked the end of the Pakistan Muslim League.