The Pakistani Muslim League (Nawaz) is a centre-right conservative political party in Pakistan. Alongside the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), it is one of the three major political parties of the country. The party was founded by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after the dissolution of Islamic Democratic Alliance in 1993. The party’s platform is generally conservative, which involves supporting free markets, deregulation, lower taxes and private ownership. Although the party historically supported social conservatism, in recent years, the party’s political ideology and platform has become more liberal on social and cultural issues.
One of several continuing factions of the original Muslim League, the seeds of the party were sown following the 1985 Elections when the Prime Minister of Pakistan Muhammad Khan Junejo organised the supporters of President Zia-ul-Haq’s dictatorship into a single party, known as the Pakistan Muslim League. After President Zia’s death in 1988, under the leadership of Fida Mohammad Khan, a large faction split away from the Junejo-led Pakistan Muslim League, and formed a conservative alliance with various right-wing and Islamist political parties, called the Islamic Democratic Alliance. The alliance formed a government in 1990 under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif. In 1993, the alliance dissolved and the party assumed its current shape, branding itself as the “Nawaz” faction of the Pakistan Muslim League, in contrast to the “Junejo” faction.
After its foundation, the PML-N, along with the People’s Party, dominated the two-party political system of Pakistan. However, after the 1999 coup, the party was eclipsed by its own splinter faction, the Musharraf – backed Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid), for almost a decade. PML-N regained popularity in the 2008 general elections, when it was elected as the principal opposition party. It returned to power following the elections of 2013, with Sharif elected as the Prime Minister for an unprecedented third term. The party however faced a major setback following the disqualification of Prime Minister Sharif in 2017. The situation was further made worse when Sharif and his daughter Maryam were sentenced to imprisonment on charges of corruption.
The party lost both the centre and the provincial government of its stonghold Punjab, to PTI in 2018 elections. As of 2020, it is the main opposition party in the Parliament under the leadership of Sharif’s younger brother Shehbaz. It is also the ruling party of Pakistan’s two administrative territories: AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan.