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KARACHI/ISLAMABAD, Sept 14: Rumours on Saturday swirled about the resignation of the longest-serving Sindh governor, Dr Ishratul Ibad, who flew to Dubai in the early hours following yet another row between the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement over an operation that has seen a former MQM lawmaker and activists being arrested.

Dr Ibad, who is used to vacating the Governor House every time a row erupts between the PPP and the MQM, was reported to have left the country over his perceived failure to end raids on MQM strongholds — even the area close to the party headquarters nine-zero — and arrest of former lawmaker Nadeem Hashmi.

Staging a protest demonstration outside the Karachi Press Club, MQM leaders poured scorn on the provincial government for what they described as an anti-MQM operation and at a subsequent meeting demanded that Dr Ibad leave if he could not influence it.

However, contacts between Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Dr Ibad and Senator Babar Ghauri on Saturday evening seemed to have caused the MQM to dispel misgivings about the governor’s sudden departure from Karachi.

A spokesman for the MQM, Wasay Jalil, told Dawn that it was Governor Ibad’s prerogative to decide when to call it a day. He added that Dr Ibad had not yet stepped down.

The spokesman said that Dr Ibad’s current visit was necessitated by his wife’s indisposition. Mr Jalil recalled that Dr Ibad had undertaken another “personal visit” because of the same reason recently.

The MQM described Dr Ibad as a representative of the federal government — and not its nominee — when the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government rescinded the invitation earlier extended to Muttahida parliamentary party leader Dr Farooq Sattar to a cabinet meeting being held in Karachi to discuss the breakdown of law and order in the metropolis.

“Dr Ibad was an MQM nominee when he was appointed [on December 27, 2002] but he won’t resign at the behest of the MQM. It is his prerogative to be on the seat or not,” said Mr Jalil.

Under the 18th amendment to the 1973 constitution, the president appoints and accepts the resignation of a governor on the advice of the prime minister. A summary in this regard is moved by the Prime Minister Office and sent to the Presidency.

The prime minister’s spokesman, Mohiuddin Wani, and the presidential spokesman, Muhammad Sarfaraz, confirmed to Dawn that no summary regarding Dr Ibad’s resignation had been moved by the PM Office.

Speaking about the contacts between Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Dr Ibad, Mr Jalil said the governor was fully acquainted with MQM reservations over the manner in which the operation was being carried out in Karachi, especially in MQM strongholds, and must have communicated the MQM viewpoint to the interior minister.

He further said he was not privy to the content of the conversation reported by the electronic media on Saturday. “I myself have seen it only on TV.”

However, he confirmed that the interior minister contacted Senator Babar Ghauri and assured him that the MQM’s reservations would be addressed.

“Senator Ghauri explained to the interior minister that the MQM is not against the operation against criminals, but it is opposed to the manner in which raids are being carried out on MQM strongholds and activists, as well as a former lawmaker, have been arrested on trumped-up charges. Chaudhry Nisar assured him that MQM reservations would be addressed.”