MQM back in govt

October 05, 2011

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The press conference was preceded by 90-minute negotiations where the finishing touches were put to the agreement — unexplained, like previous deals — between the PPP and the MQM. - File Photo

KARACHI: For the umpteenth time, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement has rejoined the federal and provincial governments and decided to help the Pakistan People’s Party solve the many problems that ail the country.

At a joint press conference with Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad announced on Wednesday night that Muttahida ministers would resume their responsibilities.

He added that the chief minister would decide portfolios for MQM ministers.

The MQM left the coalition on June 27 in protest against the postponement of elections on two seats of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly.

Most of the portfolios held by 14 MQM ministers in the provincial cabinet before June 27 were subsequently allocated to other MPAs. The MQM also had one adviser to the chief minister.

However, in the federal cabinet, the three ministerial positions held by as many Muttahida MNAs were not handed over to others.

The press conference was preceded by 90-minute negotiations where the finishing touches were put to the agreement — unexplained, like previous deals — between the PPP and the MQM.

President Asif Ali Zardari, MQM supremo Altaf Hussain and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani were consulted by the governor.

Standing around the chief minister and the governor were Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Syed Khurshid Shah, Sindh Home Minister Manzoor Wasan and Local Government Minister Agha Siraj Durrani of the PPP and Dr Farooq Sattar, Dr Sagheer Ahmad, Adil Siddiqui and Waseem Aftab of the MQM.

Governor Ibad said that Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik — whom he praised along with Babar Awan for his peacemaking role — was supposed to attend the press conference, but could not do so on account of some other engagement.

He said the president — whose Aug 19 remarks on challenges facing Pakistan were alluded to — and the prime minister remained in contact with the MQM chief, who decided in the national interest to help the government face the challenges.

Without explaining why, Governor Ibad said the decision to rejoin the ruling coalition was a difficult one for the MQM.

Without mentioning the various rounds of bloodletting in Karachi, he regretted that the citizens suffered immensely during the period.

Chief Minister Shah praised President Zardari and MQM chief Hussain for bridging the gulf between the MQM and the PPP.

Refraining from condemning former home minister Dr Zulfikar Mirza for his frequent outbursts against the MQM and Mr Hussain, the chief minister said Dr Mirza’s diatribe did not reflect PPP policy.

In the 168-member Sindh Assembly, the PPP has 93 MPAs, followed by the MQM (51), Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (11), Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (8), National People’s Party (3) and Awami National Party (2).

Save a four-member group of PML-Q dissidents, led by former Sindh chief minister Dr Arbab Guam Rahim, all parliamentary parties in the Sindh Assembly are now in government.

In the 332-member National Assembly, the MQM has 25 MNAs.