MQM-P's Siddiqui downplays resignation announcement, says party will remain govt's ally

Updated 14 Jan 2020

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MQM-P convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and PTI's Asad Umar address the media after a meeting in Karachi. — DawnNewsTV
MQM-P convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and PTI's Asad Umar address the media after a meeting in Karachi. — DawnNewsTV
Federal Minister for Planning, Development & Reforms Asad Umar meets with  Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui on Monday. — DawnNewsTV
Federal Minister for Planning, Development & Reforms Asad Umar meets with Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui on Monday. — DawnNewsTV

MQM-P leader Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui said on Monday that there was "nothing sensational" in his press conference from a day ago, when he announced his surprise resignation as federal minister for information technology.

Speaking to the press alongside Planning Minister Asad Umar after meeting a delegation of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in Karachi, Siddiqui reiterated that his party would remain an ally of the government. Both Umar and Siddiqui told reporters that today's meeting was pre-planned, rubbishing rumours that the latter was retrieving his resignation.

"There was nothing sensational in yesterday's press conference," Siddiqui said. "We promised to support the government with our numbers and we will continue to do that.

"All we said was that to stay in the federal cabinet seems futile now [...] We remember all the promises we made and we have already fulfilled them."

Federal Minister for Planning, Development, Reforms and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, while responding to a question regarding Siddiqui's resignation, said that there will be a discussion on the "wish expressed by Khalid bhai".

"Sometimes, a person feels that there is nothing wrong with not being part of the cabinet. I, too, have spent seven months outside the cabinet and I can understand his (Siddiqui's) wish. But we would want Khalid bhai to stay a part of the cabinet and we will hold talks on that.

"We need to give the residents of Karachi the rights that they have been denied for decades, sadly [...] and this is our mutual struggle," Umar added.

Umar said multiple development projects had been initiated in Karachi and revealed that Prime Minister Imran Khan would arrive in the city early next month to inaugurate a few projects.

Earlier, a PTI delegation led by Asad Umar arrived at MQM-P's temporary headquarters in Bahadurabad. Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Firdous Shamim Naqvi and MPA Khurram Sher Zaman were also part of the government delegation.

MQM-P delegation included convener Siddiqui, Amir Khan, Kanwar Naveed Jamil, Khawaja Izharul Hassan and Aminul Haque.

'Resigning as federal minister'

The meeting came a day after Siddiqui announced he was resigning from his post as minister for information technology because the ruling party "did not fulfil its promises". But Siddiqui insisted his party would continue to support the Prime Minister Imran Khan-led government.

MQM-P also clarified that its senator, Farogh Nasim, who is the federal minister for law, will continue to be part of the cabinet. The party did, however, claim that the government had not consulted it before giving Nasim the portfolio of law. Siddiqui went on to say that his party was promised one more ministry but despite repeated assurances, the PTI-led government did not fulfil its promise.

After the general elections in August 2018, PTI and the MQM-P had signed a nine-point memorandum of understanding (MoU) following which the latter joined the PTI-led coalition government in Centre and was also assigned two federal ministries – those of information technology and law.

Senior MQM-P leader Faisal Subzwari had earlier told Dawn that after Siddiqui’s press conference, Prime Minister Imran Khan had personally contacted the MQM-P convener and assured him that he would look into his party’s legitimate concerns.

Siddiqui’s announcement came just weeks after PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s public offer that the PPP was ready to embrace the MQM-P as a coalition partner in Sindh provided it helped the opposition in bringing down the PTI-led federal government.

Siddiqui clarified that his decision to quit the federal cabinet had nothing to do with the "recent offer of ministries from a party".

He explained that MQM-P had supported the PTI government for strengthening the democratic system, but to date it had not seen any serious headway on even one of the many points of the MoU it had signed with PTI.

Additional reporting by Imtiaz Ali and Imtiaz Mughairi