KARACHI: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan has chosen a development package for the urban areas of Sindh instead of becoming part of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government at the Centre, it emerged on Saturday.

The MQM-P, which sits on the opposition benches in the parliament, had voted for Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the PML-N candidate, in the election of prime minister.

Recently, senior MQM leader Amir Khan told a workers’ convention that the federal government would soon announce a big package for Karachi.

“We have not sold out [for] Rs25 billion ... we have dema­nded money but for Karachi and its people,” he explained to party workers as to why the party voted for the PML-N, according to a press release posted on the MQM-P website.

Sources said that Sindh Governor Mohammad Zubair played a key role in persuading the MQM to support the PML-N candidate.

After the MQM voted for PM Abbasi, the sources said, at least two senior PML-N figures indirectly approached the MQM asking them why they were not joining the federal government.

As the PML-N had already said that Mr Abbasi was made PM for 45 days as a stopgap arrangement until Shahbaz Sharif was elected to the National Assembly, the MQM, for now, appeared uninterested in joining the federal cabinet.

“We want to see the seriousness of the PML-N towards the urban areas of [Sindh],” said MQM-P leader Faisal Sabzwari.

The MQM knew that the federal government had already finalised a development package for Karachi and ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif was due to announce it during his visit to the metropolis. But, his visit to Karachi never materialised and finally the apex court showed him the door.

The party voted for Mr Abbasi after the PML-N agreed that the new PM would announce a development package for Karachi and include the Karachi mayor, local government representatives and provincial and federal lawmakers belonging to the urban areas in federal government-funded development projects.

“We are in the process of identifying development projects which can be executed in the current financial year and seen on ground by the first quarter of 2018,” said a senior MQM-P leader.

Currently, the federal government has been undertaking the Green Line Metro Bus project through its Karachi Infrastructure Development Company (KIDC).

While the representatives of the Sindh governments are included in the board of directors, the Karachi mayor is not a part of the KIDC. Sualeh Farooqi, the principal secretary to the Sindh governor, is the chief executive officer of the KIDC.

A meeting in this regard was held on Friday evening at the headquarters of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation to review the projects to be undertaken on an immediate basis soon after the announcement of the Karachi uplift package by the prime minister.

The meeting was attended by MQM-P chief Dr Farooq Sattar, members of the party’s coordination committee, chairmen of three district municipal corporations — East, Central and Korangi — and others.

The meeting participants also reviewed the development package announced by ousted PM Nawaz Sharif for Hyderabad in March this year and noted the implementation on the uplift projects had already begun but there was a need to accelerate their pace.

Nawaz Sharif on March 27 announced in Hyderabad a number of development projects for the second largest city of Sindh, including setting up of a university, launching of a metro bus service and revival of the Hyderabad airport.

He had also announced a special grant of Rs500 million for the Hyderabad Municipal Corporation.

Published in Dawn, August 6th, 2017