FOREIGN Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-P convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and others pictured during a meeting at MQM Markaz on Sunday.—APP
FOREIGN Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-P convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and others pictured during a meeting at MQM Markaz on Sunday.—APP

KARACHI: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Sunday that Prime Minister Imran Khan would chair a meeting of his coalition partners from Sindh in Islamabad on Dec 5 to take important decisions for providing relief to the people.

Mr Qureshi was talking to reporters after meeting the leadership of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan at the latter’s temporary headquarters in Karachi’s Bahadurabad locality.

The foreign minister was accompanied by Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Firdous Shamim Naqvi and other party leaders during the closed-door meeting with the MQM leadership.

Law Minister Dr Farogh Naseem, Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar, senior MQM-P leaders Amir Khan and others were also present.

An MQM-P source told Dawn that the main purpose of the meeting was to show that the PTI-led coalition, of which the MQM-P is a vital part, was intact and that there would be smooth sailing in legislation pertaining to the extension of army chief’s tenure.

However, both the parties shied away from specifically talking about this issue during their press talk.

Qureshi says ruling coalition will meet on 5th to take decisions on relief measures

When asked if the government would succeed in amending the Army Act in compliance with the Supreme Court directive to address the issue of extension in army chief’s tenure, Mr Qureshi said: “We are bound to [carry out] that legislation. We have accepted it respectfully.

“We are very clear on the [constitutional] powers of the prime minister and that the steps the prime minister had taken were within the ambit of the Cons­titution and in accordance with law,” the foreign minister said.

He added: “If there are any further ambiguities, then we are ready to move forward to address those future ambiguities.”

MQM-P convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui said his party would continue to extend “unconditional” support to the PTI-led government on “important national issues”.

He, however, said that his party wanted the PTI government to pay due attention to Karachi and other parts of Sindh, explaining that “the pace [of work] is slow on many fronts to an extent that it appears that no work is being done”.

18th Amendment

In response to a question that the 18th Amendment did not improve governance in Sindh, Mr Qureshi said that the landmark legislation was passed with a consensus but its implementation could be questioned.

“I understand that the Amendment and the 7th National Finance Commission Award had given unprecedented resources to the provinces. Now the provinces and the people should review what [their governments] had done for them and what they did not,” he said.

Dr Siddiqui, who is also a federal minister, interrupted him and said that instead of devolution there had been accumulation of power under the 18th Amendment and there was a need to find out a solution.

Mr Qureshi said that the provinces did not transfer resources at the grass-root level. “I think we have to sit and hold further deliberations,” he added.

He said the PTI and the MQM-P would pursue a comprehensive strategy for the betterment of Karachi and Sindh.

Earlier, FM Qureshi said that his meeting with the MQM-P leadership in Karachi was basically homework for the Dec 5 moot to be chaired by the PM.

“We are hopeful that our talks on Dec 5 would be fruitful and we can make concrete decisions for the benefit of our people,” he added.

Acknowledging MQM-P’s cooperation, he said the party stood by the PTI during testing times.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2019