ISLAMABAD, July 14: Taking notice of controversial remarks of Sindh Senior Minister Zulfikar Mirza against the Muttahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM) that triggered a new wave of violence in Karachi, President Asif Ali Zardari summoned him to Islamabad on Thursday and barred him from issuing political statements.
“The president has asked Mr Mirza to suspend his political engagements in Sindh and immediately come to the presidency,” presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said.
President Zardari is reported to have been annoyed by the statement in which Mr Mirza made derogatory remarks against MQM chief Altaf Hussain.
“The Pakistan People's Party has already disowned the statement and called upon its ranks to show restraint in public statements,” the spokesman said.
Mr Mirza has always been in the news for his outspokenness and verbal attacks on the MQM.
His previous attack in February this year also created a political crisis, but he surprised many when soon afterwards he went to the MQM headquarters and the crisis was defused.
PPP Secretary General Jehangir Badr distanced the party from Mr Mirza's statement and said the PPP respected Mr Hussain as the legitimate leader of the MQM and anything stated to the contrary by any party member might be his personal view and not of the party.
In a statement, he advised party leaders to use temperate language in public statements in accordance with the policy of accommodation and reconciliation.
PPP's information secretary Qamar Zaman Kaira said all political parties must play their role for maintaining peace in Karachi.
He said the PPP respected the MQM chief and his mandate. “I feel sorry for Mr Mirza's statement,” he said.
He said all parties should avoid issuing such statements against each other in the current situation.
“The PPP will continue to pursue the policy of reconciliation and the situation in Karachi will improve soon,” he said.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the president had taken notice of the statement and sought a report from the Sindh chief minister.
“The role of the Urdu-speaking community in the creation of Pakistan is aboveboard and their sacrifices for the cause are always acknowledged,” he said.
“When the late Benazir Bhutto decided to return to Pakistan, I was asked to first contact Altaf Hussain.
His three associates held a meeting with me in London's Victory Club,” he recalled.
He said Ms Bhutto had always lauded the role of MQM's leaders for promoting democracy and putting it on the right track.
“I know that the personal statement of an associate of PPP has hurt the feelings of the MQM leader, but at the same time we also know that Altaf Hussain is a kind national leader,” the minister said.
He expressed the hope that the MQM leader would act positively for the betterment of the country, as well as Karachi, and would ask his party's workers to remain calm.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim League-N chief Nawaz Sharif said the law and order situation in Karachi was a source of concern and pain form the whole nation.
The country, he said, was already facing problems and, therefore, one should refrain from provocation and politics of revenge. “Politeness and maturity should prevail in politics.”
He said all citizens of the country were respectable. “The government should take steps to ease tension,” he said.