The Pakistan Muslim League Foundation Day gathering organized by the PML-Likeminded in Lahore on Sunday showed that the party, which came into being when a number of parliamentarians belonging to the PML-Q broke off from it and chose to support the PML-N, particularly its government in the Punjab, showed that it was no mere Assembly party, but also capable of playing a role more normally associated with political parties. At the same time, the importance of the event was not so much that it showed the PML-Likeminded was active, as the resolution passed at it, which called for party reunification. The resolution noted certain facts. The first was that the votes of the League factions put together received in the 2008 elections were more than obtained by any other party. The second called for party unity, so that the PML could come to office, and solve the problems the country was facing. At the gathering, which was addressed by office-bearers of the PML-Likeminded, PML-Functional and PML-N, the unity issue came to the fore. This was perhaps inevitable, for this was the last Foundation Day before the next general election, and the sentiment reflected is felt generally in all PML factions, that the vote split that would result from disunity, would lead the PML to defeat again.

The factions at the function would probably unite, but their need for a person to mediate was clear. However, it was also obvious that the unity sentiment would have to be transformed into efforts only if the factions showed the need. It was also noteworthy that the PML-Q was conspicuous by its absence. At this stage, that absence could only be natural, for the PML-Likeminded are a faction broken off it. Also, the PML-Q has joined the PPP in coalition, and has even worked to carry out the necessary seat adjustment to convert this into an electoral alliance. At the same time, previous unity efforts have made it obvious that the biggest stumbling blocks are leaders’ egos.

These egos, which make them unwilling to accept particular individuals, are preventing League unity. They are condemning the party to enter the impending polls disunited, and thus dispirited. There is not all that much time till the polls, which will be preceded by the extremely delicate phase of awarding tickets. It is to be assumed that as the general elections draw progressively closer, so will the pressure for League unity. League leaders must pay attention to this pressure, as well as the lessons of history, before it is too late.