Pir Pagara, Muslim League and a two-party system for Pakistan

Published: November 2, 2010

Pir Pagara is confident that other parties will join the United Muslim League fold.

On October 29 four factions of the Muslim League met in Karachi to form a United Muslim League, under the leadership of PML-F leader Pir Pagara. Although the PML-N and PML-Q were not represented at the meeting, the latter had already formed a coalition with Pir Pagara’s PML-F, under the name All Pakistan Muslim League (APML).

This recent move in the political arena has caught many a politicos’ attention. It has been seen by some pundits as a great leap towards a stronger right-wing and two party system, whereas other analysts see it as a needless maneuver by a flock of seasonal politicians. Disregarding all theories, it is quite evident that this exercise will fail if it lacks the PML-N’s support.

Also, it is hard to picture Punjab’s king-maker leagues – the PML-N and PML-Q – uniting under one umbrella. Especially with the burden of history and hostility the leaders on both sides carry for each other. One thing that could bring the two together in a United Muslim League would be the fear of a divided vote bank in Punjab. History shows that when the Muslim Leagues compete, the rightist vote is divided and the Pakistan Peoples Party succeeds.

Some of the leaders joining the United Muslim League have also hinted at the possibility of inviting former President Pervez Musharraf’s APML, along with Imran Khan’s Tehreek-i-Insaf and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement. Joining hands with Musharraf’s party in an alliance would be unacceptable to Mian Nawaz Sharif and undoubtedly, political suicide for his party, the PML-N.

A cynic would perceive no upcoming change, but an optimistic view would suggest otherwise. This could be the time in Pakistan’s political history that we finally see a genuine two-party system develop. A United Muslim League can take the role of right-wing politics, while Pakistan Peoples Party can hold on to its leftist, liberal agenda. This would clarify the differences between the two ideologies and would give voters an easily distinguishable option.

Pakistan – just like any other mature democracy – needs a two party system. Democracy will strengthen only when there are two strong parties, rather than many weak ones ready to be pawns of the establishment’s great games. It is not merely a theoretical idea, which can be dismissed as western or foreign to Pakistani society, but is part of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s vision.

Despite the outcome of the recent political ramblings, the requirement for the development of a strong federation – a two-party system – seems to be an imminent reality for Pakistan.


Anas Muhammad

A liberal political blogger and MBA student studying international business, global economy and politics.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Asif Hanafi

    I don’t think Pagara is the man to do that. An alliance of MQM-PTI-APML(M) now that would be an interesting force to reckon with.

    Pervez Musharraf – President
    Shahbaz Sharif – Prime Minister

    I still haven’t figured out what role Imran Khan can play… Recommend

  • http://syedaabidabokhari.wordpress.com The Only Normal Person Here.

    Two party system works where the nation is divided in ideologies and have clear concept about main political doctrines.

    Unfortunately, in our part of the world, we vote on the basis on ethnicity. We people dont even care to read a party’s manifesto. We look at the leader, close our eyes and vote.Recommend

  • http://www.tanzeel.wordpress.com Tanzeel


  • Sana

    Having a two party system means that each party holds ONE basic Agenda, which isn’t possible when we have APML and PML-N under one roof. When party heads are to have grudges against each other, working together wouldn’t be the best option. Unlike PPP they have a basic and solid agenda to rule the Government for the betterment. Whereas, this ‘Out of Need’ coalition is just the outcome of provincial insecurities.Recommend

  • parvez

    Have to agee with Tanzeel. Recommend

  • Sanaa Khalid

    As much as we would want the “two party system” to work in Pakistan, it is not likely to happen. Yes it could be a stable acheivment in the political front but the politicians in our part of the world can never succumb and accept their magalomania to stop short. The politicians are as unstable as they ever were, and even if they do find shade under the same umbrella against the glaring sun, their ego will never suffice and they will go their seperate ways by the end of the day. Paghara’s party is just another fuedal maneuver.Except for forming coalitions or standing against them, politicians should be given a major democratic training which is quite necessary for them. That being said, your article was very apt for the current political scenario. Recommend

  • Hasan

    Pakistan needs fresh blood in politics, as it does in every other sphere of Pakistani life.
    A common man to lead the masses, someone not from the royal families and not subservient to manipulators.Recommend

  • http://hotmail.com AMIN BHUTTA