Pakistan Muslim League-N

Published 18th April, 2013

The Pakistan Muslim League was founded in 1962 and is widely considered to be the successor to the All-India Muslim League. Throughout its history it has been factionalised and there have been a number of breakaway groups. The Pakistan Muslim League-N is the largest of these factions and is now the second largest party in the Senate.

It was not until 1985 that a re-vamped Pakistan Muslim League came to prominence, when Mohammad Khan Junejo became Prime Minister and Nawaz Sharif was appointed as Chief Minister of the Punjab Province, where the party is a dominant force. In 1988 the PML split into two factions, the PML (Junejo Group) and PML (Fida Mohammad Group). Nawaz Sharif was subsequently elected president of the latter faction and it subsequently became the PML (N). It fought the 1988 elections as part of the Islamic Democratic Alliance (IDA), a right-wing alliance of nine parties formed to oppose the PPP in the elections and it received 56 of the National Assembly seats.

In 1990 the PML-N was still part of the IDA and, under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif, the alliance won 106 seats. Sharif became prime minister and held office until 1993, when his power struggle with President Ghulam Ishaq Khan led both to resign. In the elections that year the PML-N, won the largest number of votes, but the PPP gained more seats and the PML-N went into opposition.

The election of 3 February 1997 took place following the dismissal of the Bhutto government by President Farooq Leghari. The Pakistan Muslim League-N won the election with a landslide – the only party to have gained a two-thirds majority since independence. Nawaz Sharif became prime minister once more.

By 1999 the party was beset by splits and the country experienced increased military tension with India which led to a military coup and General Pervez Musharraf assumed executive powers. Nawaz Sharif and his brother were held for over a year at Attock Fort, during which time they were sentenced to two life sentences for hijacking, terrorism and corruption. Nawaz Sharif was banned for life from political activities and the brothers and other members of their family were sent into exile in Saudi Arabia. King Fahd had intervened over concerns that a possible death sentence would provoke ethnic violence.
The next election took place on 10 October 2002, when the PML-N was further factionalised and, under the leadership of Javed Hashmi, the party won only 19 seats.

Nawaz Sharif was allowed to return from exile in 2007 and elections which were to have taken place in November were delayed once more, due to Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. On 18 February 2008 the Pakistan Muslim League-N won 71 seats and formed a coalition with the Pakistan People’s Party which had won 97 seats.

On 2 March 2012, the PML-N won 8 of the 54 seats up for election in the Senate.

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