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Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI)

The Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (Islamic Democratic Alliance or IJI) was formed in September 1988 to oppose the Pakistan's People Party (PPP) in elections that year. The alliance comprised nine parties, of which the major components were the PML and the Islamic Organization (Jamaat-i-Islami or JI). The IJI won only fifty-three seats in the National Assembly, compared with ninety-two won by the PPP. Most IJI seats were won in Punjab. Nawaz Sharif emerged from the 1988 elections as the most powerful politician outside the PPP. In December 1988, he succeeded in forming an IJI administration in Punjab and became the province's chief minister. It was from this power base that he waged the political battles that eventually led to his becoming prime minister in 1990. In the supercharged atmosphere of the 1990 elections, the electorate surprised observers. Neither the IJI nor the PPP was expected to come up with a firm mandate to rule. Yet the IJI received a strong mandate to govern, winning 105 seats versus forty-five seats for the Pakistan Democratic Alliance (PDA), of which the PPP was the main component in the National Assembly.

In the 1993 national elections, the IJI coalition no longer existed to bring together all the anti-PPP forces. The religious parties expended most of their energies trying to form a workable electoral alliance rather than bolstering the candidacy of Nawaz Sharif, the only person capable of challenging Benazir. Nawaz Sharif by that time had replaced the late Muhammad Khan Junejo as leader of the Pakistani Muslim League, which subsequently became the Pakistani Muslim League (Nawaz) or PML (N).

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