ISLAMABAD: Following an agreement with the federal government over formation of a Grievance Redressal Committee (GRC), the Muttahida Qaumi Movement has withdrawn resignations its legislators had submitted to chairman of the Senate and speakers of the National and Sindh assemblies.
Leaders from the two sides met at the Punjab House here on Friday and signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the proposed GRC.
With the signing of the MoU, resignations of the party’s senators and members of the National and Sindh assemblies stood withdrawn, the two sides said.
At the talks, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar represented the federal government and Dr Farooq Sattar the MQM. They later signed the MoU.
“It is mutually agreed that PML-N will arrange issuance of a notification on the GRC to address grievances of the MQM and any other political party/person/entity, regarding alleged abuse of power or excess of authority, if any, by a law enforcement agency or any other government institution,” said the MoU.
A notification about the proposed committee must be issued within five working days, said the MoU. The GRC would comprise five members, two from each side, while the interior secretary would be its convener.
According to the MoU, once it is set up the committee will be allowed to “adopt its own procedure and rules of business”. The federal government will provide the necessary secretarial support.
A deadline of three months has been set for the GRC to complete its work on complaints it receives from either side.
After issuance of the notification “the committee, preferably within two weeks (15 days), will take up and attend grievances relating to Karachi, under the law and Constitution, in particular matters relating to life and liberty”, according to the MoU.
Under the agreement, the GRC will have the authority to submit its findings on case-to-case basis to the federal government.
Addressing a press conference, Senator Dar thanked the entire MQM leadership, whether in Karachi or abroad, for showing sagacity which had led to the signing of the MoU.
When a journalist asked him whether the “powers that be” had been taken on board before the signing of the MoU, the minister said “gone are the days when different institutions used to think and act on their own”.
“At the moment, both civilian and military leaderships are on the same page.”
The government, he added, remained in touch with the MQM even though at times the two sides faced difficulty in moving forward on the issues involved.
In reply to a question, he said the MQM had always supported the Karachi operation and would continue to do so because “it is only directed against corrupt elements”.
In his remarks, Dr Sattar reiterated his party’s viewpoint that in Karachi certain institutions had exceeded their powers and committed violations against the law of the land.
Left with no other option for the redressal of grievances, especially “about missing persons and extrajudicial killings of party workers”, the MQM legislators had to resign from the parliament and Sindh Assembly, he said.
“Now that the government has agreed to listen to us we have decided to come back to the assemblies.”
On the issue of “continued ban on MQM’s welfare and political activities and speeches of Altaf Hussain”, Dr Sattar expressed the hope that the government would address the issues as per law.
According to some political commentators, the signing of the MoU by the two sides was a result of political expediency on their part.
“With the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf emerging fast as a potent political force, neither the MQM nor the federal government can afford to stay away from the assemblies,” said an analyst.
Published in Dawn, October 10th , 2015