ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday made another attempt to appease the disgruntled Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) by assuring it of meeting its demands, but MQM leader and Minister for Information Technology Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui refused to return to the federal cabinet.
According to a press release issued by the PM Office, the prime minister and Mr Siddiqui during a meeting discussed the issues between the government and the MQM.
Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar and some federal secretaries also attended the meeting.
“The prime minister reviewed the progress of development projects in Sindh,” the press release said.
Sources said the prime minister assured the MQM convener that all genuine demands of his party will be met soon and development activities will be expedited in Karachi and Hyderabad.
Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui refuses to return to cabinet
When contacted, MQM leader Aminul Haq told Dawn that it was a positive meeting, but Mr Siddiqui had decided not to withdraw his resignation unless some practical steps were taken by the government to meet the MQM’s demands.
“Khalid Bhai categorically decided that he will remain outside the federal cabinet,” he said.
Mr Haq said in fact Mr Siddiqui was scheduled to meet Asad Umar, but during the meeting the prime minister joined them and promised to address the MQM’s reservations soon.
He said the MQM had demanded empowerment of local government representatives in Karachi and Hyderabad under Article 140-A of the Constitution and for that purpose the party had already moved the Supreme Court. “We demand political, administrative and financial powers for local representatives,” he added.
Mr Haq said Prime Minister Khan endorsed the demand and assured that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf will also become a party and join the MQM in the apex court.
He said the prime minister assured Mr Siddiqui of releasing billions of rupees for development activities in Karachi and Hyderabad.
The MQM has also demanded a ban on issuance of Karachi domiciles to the people of interior of Sindh. “It has been observed that the people who spent their whole life in interior of Sindh managed to get domiciles of Karachi illegally,” Mr Haq said.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) has also some issues with the government as its leader and Housing Minister Tariq Bashir Cheema did not attend the federal cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, PTI leader Jahangir Khan Tareen told a TV channel that he will not return to any government’s negotiation team to appease disgruntled allies.
“I don’t want to go back to the place from where I was removed,” he said, adding that the prime minister might want him to do some other task.
He, however, said that he had managed to settle majority of issues of the allies when he was heading negotiation teams.
“I have been engaged with the allies for over three months and a relation of trust was developed between us, therefore, the allies wanted me back in the government’s teams,” he added.
Published in Dawn, February 14th, 2020