KARACHI: Despite desperate attempts by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government in the Centre to win assurance from its allies against the no-trust move of the opposition, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan on Sunday kept its cards close to its chest keeping all “options” open for the crucial parliamentary process, saying it would take a decision only “in line with national and party interest”.
The renewed attempt by the PTI to woo the MQM-P came when Sindh Governor Imran Ismail with his key aides visited the MQM-P headquarters in Bahaduarbad. After almost an hour-long meeting, both sides sounded positive while interacting with the media but their thoughts clearly indicated that nothing conclusive had emerged in their discussion.
“I came here to convey Prime Minister Imran Khan’s message to our MQM-P friends,” said Governor Ismail. “We have requested their [MQM-P] support [for no-confidence] and if we win support of our allies [in the federal government], we don’t need anything else. We hope the way MQM-P has supported the government and stood by our side, it would continue this gesture and support Imran Khan. Let me be very clear that whether the coalition partner or not, I have found MQM-P during last more than three years very sincere with this city and this province without any bias.”
His appreciation for the PTI government ally and strong hopes for support in the upcoming parliamentary process, however, failed to attract any immediate assurance from the MQM-P. The party almost reiterated its earlier stance that emerged when the opposition’s movement against the PM gathered momentum. The tone and message of the MQM-P remained unchanged even after the governor’s visit.
“We have to decide in line with the our [party] and national interests,” said MQM-P leader Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqi when asked about any decision made by the party regarding the no-confidence move against the prime minister.
“MQM-P is a democratic party and we have a very long tradition that we take workers’ opinion onboard whenever we make any major decision.
“So far, we are part of the government and that’s why the government is intact. We believe whatever outcome of all this situation emerges, the democracy shouldn’t get derailed.”
When referred to a possible decision made by the Pakistan Muslim League of Chaudhary Shujaat Hussain in favour of the opposition amid growing pressure on the PTI government, Dr Siddiqi was quick to respond that his party was not bound to follow others.
“The PML-Q is free to make its decision and so are we,” he said. “If you honestly analyse the situation, the MQM-P doesn’t enjoy the political space being enjoyed by the opposition parties. So everyone has its own conditions and scenario to follow. Our commitment is with the democracy and a common man of Pakistan. We won’t make any decision which damages anyone of them.”
While the MQM-P leader was not sure about his future contact with the opposition, he didn’t rule out meeting with any opposition leader in Islamabad.
“I am flying to Islamabad tomorrow. If anyone would be willing to meet us, we would definitely meet,” he replied to a question about further contacts with any leader of joint opposition.
Published in Dawn, March 14th, 2022