DUBAI – Former prime minister Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain yesterday called on former dictator Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf to discuss formation of a new party – ‘United Muslim League’.

As the next general election are approaching in 2018, the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, an ally of the former ruler who overthrew the Nawaz-government in 1999 bloodless coup, has renewed efforts to bring all factions of the Muslim League, except the ruling N-League, on one platform.

PML-Q president and his nephew Moonis Elahi met former president and APML chief Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf in Dubai on Sunday in order to introduce a new political force before next general election.

“Chaudhry Shujaat and Moonis Elahi have held an important meeting with Gen Musharraf for bringing all Muslim League factions (minus N) under one umbrella. The Chaudhrys have renewed efforts since they feel this is the right time to enter the political arena with a new party in the presence of the PML-N, PTI and PPP,” the Dawn News quoted a PML-Q leader as saying.

Musharraf, who faces treason charges, is in UAE after the government allowed him to leave country for medical reasons after lifting of travel ban.

Since the former president stepped down in 2008, he has vowed to face all pending cases against him, saying he is keeping himself abreast with developments in the country and will actively take part in politics after his return.

Musharraf, who ruled the country from nearly a decade, said he was going abroad to seek “medical treatment of a decade-old illness which has now developed several complications.”

Confirming his Sunday’s meeting with the Chaudhrys of Gujrat, the former president said the PML-Q believed that there had been a political vacuum, especially in Punjab, and the new party could make its mark in the run-up to the 2018 elections.

“The United Muslim League will not only take on board disgruntled leaders of other parties but will also be in position to make seat-adjustment with like-minded parties in the coming elections.”

He further said his heart beats for Pakistan and he wants to return home at the earliest.

However, according to a PML-Q spokesman, Chaudhry Shujaat said at the Dubai meeting the political situation demanded that all opposition parties gather on one platform.

The Chaudhrys had about one-and-a-half-year ago launched efforts for the United Muslim League under the leadership of Gen Musharraf and Chaudhry Shujaat, but these could not bear fruit because of a lack of consensus over leadership and some other issues.

Musharraf’s self-exile and return

Musharraf came to power in 1999 in a bloodless coup against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and stood down nine years later when threatened with impeachment.

He returned to Pakistan in March 2013 after nearly four years of self-imposed exile to contest elections.

Although he has been acquitted of the murder of Nawaz Akbar Bugti in 2006, he still faces at least four other charges, including treason for suspending the constitution in 2007.

Another important case involving Musharraf is the murder of former two-time prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who was killed in 2007.

He denies the charges.