KARACHI: Cracks appeared in the ranks of joint opposition in Sindh on Sunday as lawmakers belonging to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) skipped an important meeting with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) leadership on the March 3 Senate election a day after the MQM-P got an offer from the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).
The MQM-P claimed that its representatives did not attend the meeting because of their “organisational engagements”.
On Saturday, a delegation or provincial leadership of the PPP had visited the MQM-P temporary headquarters and offered the latter that it was ready to withdraw two of its Senate candidates if the MQM-P supported Yousuf Raza Gilani on an Islamabad Senate seat against Finance Minister Hafeez Sheikh of the PTI. The MQM-P sought time from the PPP to respond to its offer.
On Sunday, the Sindh chapter of the PTI arranged a luncheon for the party’s chief organiser Saifullah Niazi, who arrived here from Islamabad to finalise the strategy for the Senate election with the MQM-P and GDA. The three parties, which are part of the opposition in the Sindh Assembly, are contesting elections for five Senate seats from Sindh.
It indicates MQM-P is seriously considering PPP offer over Senate polls
While GDA leadership, including its Senate candidate Pir Sadruddin Shah, attended the luncheon, none of the MQM-P leaders and lawmakers reached the venue to attend the luncheon.
The absence of the MQM’s lawmakers raised eyebrows and triggered speculations that the party was seriously considering the PPP offer.
Sources said that by staying away from the meeting, the MQM-P had expressed its unhappiness over certain remarks passed by the PTI and GDA leadership during two recent meetings. Therefore, it took time to clarify its position with regard to the luncheon meeting.
A spokesperson for the MQM-P issued a statement saying that its MPAs could not attend the PTI’s luncheon because of their “organisational engagements”.
“All parties have been making preparations for the Senate election. The leadership of the MQM-P, PTI and GDA are in constant touch with each other and there’s no misunderstanding in this regard,” the statement added.
However, it remained silent about the MQM-P’s response to the PPP offer.
Sources said that the MQM-P was waiting for the decision of the Supreme Court on a presidential reference seeking holding of Senate election through open ballot.
They said that there was mixed opinion on the PPP offer in the party. While some leaders want the MQM-P to work with the PPP for long-term solution of Karachi and Hyderabad’s civic problems and employment for urban youths, others believe that the establishment would not allow them to part ways with the PTI.
The naysayers, the sources said, were of the view that the PPP would never honour its commitments and if the MQM-P MNAs voted against Hafeez Sheikh it would be tantamount to expressing no-confidence against Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The PTI, MQM-P and GDA have jointly field five candidates — three for general seats and one each for seats reserved for technocrats and women — for the March 3 Senate elections. The PTI’s Faisal Vawda and Saifullah Abro, MQM-P’s Faisal Subzwari and Khalida Ateeb and GDA’s Pir Sadruddin Shah are the candidates.
The total strength of the three parties in the Sindh Assembly is 65 and they can easily win all their five seats if no horse-trading takes place.
Published in Dawn, March 1st, 2021