ISLAMABAD: As the PPP came out confident after its meeting with the MQM-Pakistan on Thursday, saying that matters had been settled with the key government ally and a formal announcement was expected soon, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman gave the impression that the joint opposition was still undecided on a post-Imran Khan scenario.
“Talks have been held with the MQM today (Thursday) and matters have been settled. It is also possible that some ministers will also be with the opposition,” PPP secretary general Farhatullah Babar told reporters outside Zardari House after the party’s parliamentary party meeting.
Sources told Dawn the MQM had expressed the desire to have a written agreement with the PPP before making a final decision. They said the MQM had demanded “share in jobs” as well as the opening of their party offices in Karachi and Hyderabad. They said the two sides had also agreed to form a committee to jointly suggest changes to the Sindh local government law.
Talking to Dawn, Mr Babar said the issues with the MQM had been settled, but he refused to divulge the details. When asked about the MQM’s demands about the share in jobs, changes in local government law and opening of their offices, he simply replied, “A political party always looks for political concessions.”
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A senior PPP member, who is privy to the development, told Dawn the MQM had previously presented 17 demands and the PPP had agreed to the majority of them, but now they had increased their demands to 28.
The PPP leader said the MQM was demanding a share in the future set-ups, both at the centre and the province. Besides, the MQM was also eying the Karachi mayor office, though they had not directly included it in their demands, the leader said.
Later, talking to a TV channel, MQM leader Waseem Akhtar said their demands and issues were related to the Sindh province and it was good that both Asif Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had agreed to most of them. He said they also had had a good meeting with the government’s teams on Wednesday.
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and provincial ministers Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, Saeed Ghani and Murtaza Wahab were also present in the meeting with the MQM delegation comprising Aamir Khan, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Aminul Haque, Waseem Akhtar and Javed Hanif.
The delegation also attended a luncheon hosted by Mr Zardari.
Later, Mr Zardari and Mr Bilawal jointly presided over a meeting of the party’s parliamentary group. The PPP leaders claimed that all parliamentary members attended.
In the meeting, the party leadership gave important instructions to their members regarding the National Assembly’s session and also gave necessary instructions regarding the no-confidence motion.
Talking to reporters, Mr Babar said the united opposition would also have a meeting of the parliamentary party before start of the National Assembly session on Friday (today). He criticised the speaker for not calling the meeting on time, adding that this NA meeting had become “illegal”, but they would still participate and would not give any excuse to the government. Mr Babar said the government would have to bring the no-confidence motion on the agenda, no matter what they do.
After the parliamentary party meeting, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari reached the official residence of Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif where they were also joined by JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman.
Meanwhile, in an interview with Adil Shahzeb of DawnNews, Maulana Fazlur Rehman said the joint opposition had yet to decide on several matters ahead of the no-confidence motion.
Asked about reports that Shehbaz Sharif had been picked as the opposition’s choice for the premiership after Imran Khan’s ouster, Maulana said: “We will decide on all matters after the success of the no-trust move.”
On a question about Imran Khan’s possible surprise that might include sacking the army chief, Maulana said: “Now everything is out of their hands. The no-confidence motion has been tabled against them. [The premier] can no longer make extraordinary decisions.”
While the prime minister did have a “ceremonial powers” to remove the army chief, “it’s no longer the case”, he said, adding: “Matters are out of [the PM’s] hands.”
Published in Dawn, March 25th, 2022