MQM-P plays hard to get in talks with govt team

Updated 14 Jan 2020

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KARACHI: Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar along with Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan leaders speaks to reporters at the MQM office on Monday.—INP
KARACHI: Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar along with Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan leaders speaks to reporters at the MQM office on Monday.—INP

KARACHI: A day after Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui announced his resignation as federal minister, a Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf delegation visited the MQM-P headquarters here on Monday, asking it to continue to be part of the cabinet.

Without giving any assurance whether he would take back his resignation, the MQM-P convener told the PTI delegation that his party would keep its promise of supporting the federal government with its numerical strength in parliament.

Following in the footsteps of the MQM-P, the Grand Democratic Alliance, another coalition partner of the PTI government from Sindh, aired their concerns that the federal government was not implementing the ‘charter of demands’ given to Prime Minister Imran Khan about two months ago.

The PTI delegation, led by federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar, also briefed the MQM leadership on the pace of work on the Rs162 billion development package announced by the prime minister for Karachi and expressed the resolve that the two parties would continue to work together for the progress of Karachi and Pakistan.

After the meeting, which lasted over one-and-a-half hours, both Mr Umar and Dr Siddiqui spoke to the media and claimed that the meeting between the two parties was scheduled earlier — prior to Dr Siddiqui’s announcement of resignation — and the visit of the PTI delegation was not part of any dialogue to address MQM’s concerns.

“We discussed development projects of Karachi and gave a briefing to the senior leadership of our allied party that the prime minister will inaugurate some of the projects in February,” he said. “Today’s meeting was not dialogue, but it was aimed at chalking out our strategy with regard to development projects [in Karachi].”

Mr Umar also heads the high-powered Karachi Transformation Committee which comprises Karachi-based leaders of the PTI and MQM.

In reply to a question, the minister said Dr Siddiqui was adamant on his decision to quit the cabinet, but the PTI wanted him to continue be a part of the cabinet and talks would also be held on the issue soon.

Speaking on the occasion, the MQM-P convener said that his party was firm on its decision to quit the federal cabinet. “We have kept all our promises and now we are waiting to see development work in the urban parts of Sindh as per the PTI commitments.”

In response to a question, Mr Umar rejected a perception that the projects he was referring to were launched by the last Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government. He claimed that the projects had been launched by the PTI government and they were either completed or near completion.

He said that shortage of water and inadequate public transport facilities were the two major problems, adding that the federal government remained committed to sharing half of the cost on K-IV [water supply scheme], although the estimate had almost doubled due to delays. He said the work on K-IV would soon resume after a technical committee set up by the Sindh government completed its review of a design revision.

The PTI delegation comprised of Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Firdous Shamim Naqvi, MNA Aftab Siddiqui and MPAs Khurram Sher Zaman, Haleem Adil Shaikh. Dr Siddiqui was assisted by MQM-P leaders Kanwar Naveed, Amir Khan, Faisal Subzwari and others.

GDA’s concerns

The GDA, which has three MNAs and one federal minister, regretted on Monday that the federal government was not providing any relief to the people of Sindh who had been suffering from corruption and bad governance of the Pakistan Peoples Party for the past 12 years.

“We have met the prime minister around two months ago and given him a charter of demands,” GDA spokesperson Sardar Rahim told Dawn. “We believe they are ignoring our legitimate demands, although they [the federal government] can provide jobs and development packages even after the 18th Amendment.”

However, he said his party was not giving any deadline to the PTI as it would wait for a “few more days”.

In Islamabad, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said the MQM-P was still a part of the government and being a government ally it had expressed concern over some issues of public interest.

Talking to the media outside the Parliament House, she said the MQM leadership had conveyed their concerns to Asad Umar and he would take up them with the prime minister. “Those who have started early celebrations will be disappointed with the return of the MQM to the cabinet,” she added.

Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2020