Qureshi issues stern warning to PPP, cautions against stoking ethnic nationalism

Updated September 13, 2019

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Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi addressing the National Assembly on Friday. — DawnNewsTV
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi addressing the National Assembly on Friday. — DawnNewsTV

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Friday urged National Assembly members from Sindh not to create an impression for the world that there is "a wave of provincial discrimination" in Pakistan.

In a reference to remarks made by PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Qureshi said that it was not reasonable for him to speak about "Sindhu desh" and "Pakhtunistan".

"Those who spoke about Pakhtunistan, pit gae (were defeated); those who speak about Sindhu desh will also be defeated," he warned.

"I am hopeful that every Sindhi will support Pakistan," he said.

Qureshi's remarks come after Bilawal on Thursday lashed out at the federal government for "trying to occupy Karachi" following Law Minister Dr Farogh Naseem's statement that the centre was considering taking over the administrative affairs of Karachi through a little-known constitutional provision.

"This country has already been broken once in the past when Islamabad tried to control a state," he said in reference to the secession of Dhaka. "It's not like those people were less patriotic than you or me [...] If PPP and other like-minded parties don't stand up, tomorrow, separate Sindhi and Pashtun states might be formed," Bilawal had warned.

Addressing members of the National Assembly from Sindh, Qureshi today said: "You should have no fear; Sindh is an important unit of this country."

"I am giving a policy statement on behalf of this government: we have respected the Constitution in the past, we respect it now, and will continue to do so.

"We have no intentions to mess with your government for no reason," he assured.

Read: PPP, PTI leaders wrangle over implications of Article 149

Additionally, Qureshi said that Dr Naseem had clarified his remarks regarding invoking Article 149 in Karachi. The foreign minister said that Dr Naseem had said his remarks on the matter were being distorted and misrepresented and now that the minister had issued a clarification, there was nothing to be fearful of.

SC should take suo motu notice of minister's remarks: PPP

Meanwhile, speaking to media, PPP leader Khursheed Shah said the law minister's comments regarding Article 149(4) were a conspiracy against the federation.

"The article is an old desire of MQM and the current government is getting stuck in this web. The government needs to understand what Farogh Naseem is trying to do," he said, adding: "Devastation will spread in Karachi with the minister's remarks."

He said that the Supreme Court should take suo motu notice of the law minister's comments on Article 149.

PPP Senator Sherry Rehman said that Foreign Minister Qureshi had commented without listening to Bilawal's statement, adding that the PPP chairperson had criticised the concepts of "Sindhu desh" and "Pakhtunistan".

"I challenge the government representatives to prove animosity towards the state in Bilawal's remarks," she said and added that the PPP was the voice of the federation.

"In political opposition, the government has resorted to making allegations of the enemy of the state."

Article 149

Earlier, the law minister, who is an MQM-P senator, talked to different news channels, saying that Karachi’s situation demanded the federal government play its role in resolving people’s problems without imposing governor’s rule or emergency.

"I do not know whether the federal government will accept my suggestion, but in my opinion there is no other solution except this [imposition of Article 149(4)] since other steps are extreme," Dr Naseem had earlier said, referring to governor’s rule and declaration of emergency.

He had noted that Article 149(4) was an independent article, which had been retained by PPP and the PML-N when the 18th Amendment to the Constitution was passed. He was of the view that the said article was not against provincial autonomy.

Article 149(4) reads: "The executive authority of the federation shall also extend to the giving of directions to a province as to the manner in which the executive authority thereof is to be exercised for the purpose of preventing any grave menace to the peace or tranquillity or economic life of Pakistan or any part thereof."

Production orders

While addressing the ruckus caused by the opposition yesterday during the joint sitting of the parliament, Qureshi said that opposition leaders had the right to raise the matter of production orders for various MNAs who were under arrest. However, yesterday they created the impression that the issue was given preference over the Kashmir issue.

During President Arif Alvi's constitutionally mandated address to a joint sitting of parliament, the opposition started raising slogans of "Go Niazi Go" — targeted at Prime Minister Imran Khan and held up pictures of the various leaders under arrest.

"The protest remained ongoing during the president's speech which gave the impression that the issue of production orders was given preference over the Kashmir issue, which the whole world is focussed on," Qureshi said.

"You can raise it over and over again if you want to, that is your prerogative but to drag it to that extent was not in good taste I think," he added.