KARACHI: The issue of the controversial National Census 2017 has brought the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan closer as both the parties held a meeting on Wednesday and decided not to accept the results of the population count that took place three years ago.
The MQM-P is part of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led ruling coalition at the centre but its federal minister Aminul Haque did not endorse the census results and wrote a dissenting note when the federal cabinet approved it a week ago. However, the party came under strong criticism from other parties, including the PPP, for writing a mere dissenting note instead of ‘quitting’ the government in protest.
Only on Tuesday, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had observed that the MQM-P was still supporting the federal government despite its stance on the census because it was forced to do so by “hidden powers”.
Against this backdrop, a three-member delegation of the PPP comprising senior politician Taj Haider, Education Minister Saeed Ghani and Waqar Mehdi visited the MQM-P’s Bahadurabad headquarters and exchanged views on overall political situation with specific reference to the census.
After the meeting, Faisal Subzwari of the MQM-P and Mr Haider of the PPP briefed the media.
Mr Subzwari recalled that his party had put politics aside and extended cooperation with the PPP and supported its complete coronavirus lockdown.
He said that the PPP and MQM had not accepted the results of the census and his party had challenged the provisional results by filing a petition before the apex court. He said that it was the first point of the MQM-PTI agreement that a five per cent audit of census blocks would be conducted in Karachi.
He expressed the hope that Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah would raise the issue of census in the Council of Common Interests (CCI).
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Haider said that it was agreed in the Senate that the provisional results of the Census 2017 were not acceptable since people who came to Sindh, including Karachi, from other parts of the country were not counted.
He said that political differences between the two parties still existed, but the PPP and the MQM had decided to stay in contact with each other. He said that the PPP would be more than happy if the MQM decided to join it.
Meanwhile, an MQM-P statement said that the PPP informed the MQM that the Sindh government had offered the federal government that it would bear half the cost on expenses for correcting the census results.
“Both parties agreed that accepting census is tantamount to putting an end to the process of development,” it said, adding that the CM would plead the case of Sindh in the CCI meeting because without a fair census delimitation of constituencies was not possible.
The MQM-P side was represented by Mr Subzwari, Khawaja Izharul Hasan, Javed Hanif and Mohammad Hussain.
Published in Dawn, December 31st, 2020