ISLAMABAD: Although the People’s Party faces no threat to its governments at the centre and in Sindh, it has asked the Muttahida Qaumi Movement to ‘reconsider’ its decision of quitting the ruling coalition.
On the other hand, the MQM, which has been a part of governments at the centre and in the province for over a decade, has claimed that “this time we are determined to stick to our decision”.
“For the time being, the party’s doors are closed for the PPP,” said Wasay Jalil, an MQM spokesman and member of the party’s coordination committee. A spokesman for PPP co-chairman and President Asif Ali Zardari told Dawn that the presidency had not received the resignations of Sindh Governor Ishratul Ibad or the Muttahida’s ministers. Mr Zardari is currently in London on a private visit.
Farhatullah Babar, who was scheduled to reach London by Tuesday morning, said the PPP would continue to pursue the policy of reconciliation in the interest of political stability and would “urge the governor to reconsider his decision to resign”.
Mr Babar said the issues facing the country and, particularly Sindh, were “too many” and “complex”. He called for strengthening the ongoing policy of reconciliation with all political forces.
The spokesman expressed the hope that the Sindh governor would reconsider the decision.
In reply to a query, Mr Babar said no meeting between the President and Muttahida chief Altaf Hussain was scheduled during Mr Zardari’s stay in London. However, Mr Babar did not rule out the possibility of a meeting between the two leaders in the wake of the recent development.
He said the president would be staying in London till July 2 and that he would only be able to confirm any such meeting only after reaching there.
Wasay Jalil, a spokesman for MQM, said the party’s decision was “final as it has been taken after a thorough review of the situation and after consultations within the party”.
THE PRESIDENT’S SISTER: Zahid Mehmood, the MQM’s coordinator for Punjab, held PPP MNA Faryal Talpur, the sister of President Asif Zardari, responsible for the crisis, alleging that she had been supporting a particular candidate for the AJK polls and it was because of her insistence that the PPP even sacrificed its alliance with the MQM. He said the MQM felt that the PPP’s attitude had become “dictatorial after it won the support of the Pakistan Muslim League-Q as it no more required the MQM’s support for getting the budget passed in the National Assembly”.
Mr Mehmood said Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah was a figurehead as the government was being run by people like Faryal Talpur, Dr Zulfiqar Mirza, Agha Siraj Durrani and Nadir Magsi.
A love-and-hate game between the two parties has continued since the formation the coalition government in 2008, with the MQM coming out of the federal cabinet and even the federal government once and threatening several times to walk out of the Sindh coalition.
This time, however, the chances of a patch-up, according to some political experts, seem to be slim because the MQM is not ready to trust even Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who had always played a role of a mediator between the two parties in the past due to his personal relations with MQM chief Altaf Hussain.
The country has been facing political turmoil since the day the then Sindh home minister, Dr Zulfiqar Mirza, made a controversial speech in Karachi on Dec 13 last year, and also after the sacking of Religious Affairs Minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi and JUI-F’s minister Azam Swati over the Haj scam the following day.
Angered by the sacking of Mr Swati, the JUI-F announced parting of ways with the PPP-led coalition government and decided to sit on the opposition benches.
On the same day, the MQM gave a 10-day ultimatum to the PPP asking it to explain Dr Mirza’s remarks blaming the MQM for target killings in Karachi. On the expiry of the deadline the MQM quit the federal cabinet and its two ministers submitted their resignations to President Zardari.
Later the MQM decided to sit on the opposition benches when the government raised oil prices.
However, when the government withdrew the increase in oil prices and the prime minister visited the MQM’s headquarters in Karachi in January, the party announced that it would again sit on treasury benches, but categorically refused to join the federal cabinet.
At that time, the MQM had stated that although the main concern for the party was the law and order situation in Karachi, the government’s decision to raise oil prices had just provided the party an opportunity to quit the ruling coalition.
The 25-member MQM rejoined the federal government last month when it was left with no other option due to an intelligent move by PPP to lure the PML-Q into the cabinet and sidelining of Dr Zulfiqar Mirza by President Zardari.
The recent AJK elections finally ended the marriage of inconvenience between the two parties.
The numerical strength of the political parties shows that the PPP now enjoys a comfortable majority both in the National and Sindh assemblies. Even without the MQM, the PPP, which has 128 MNAs, enjoys the support of some 200 MNAs in the 342-member lower house – thanks to the PML-Q’s decision to join the ruling coalition.
The MQM’s decision is not expected to affect the PPP’s government in Sindh as the party enjoys a comfortable majority in the Sindh Assembly with more than 100 MPAs sitting on the treasury benches in the 168-member house.
The composition is very interesting as representatives of all political parties, whether sitting on treasury or opposition benches, are members of the provincial cabinet.
The opposition leader in the Sindh Assembly, Madad Ali Khan, is from the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F), whereas two members of the party are ministers and two others are advisers to the chief minister.
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