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ANP supports MQM over roundtable conference

July 26, 2012

ISLAMABAD, July 25: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement on Wednesday continued its campaign of consulting the country’s political leadership and won the support of the Awami National Party for its call for a roundtable conference on internal issues and external threats faced by the country.

The ANP’s enthusiastic support is significant in the context of the turf war between the two parties which has kept Karachi, the country’s economic hub, unstable and in turmoil even though they are coalition partners in the PPP-led governments at the Centre and in Sindh.

During a meeting between leaders of the two parties, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa-dominated ANP not only supported the call of MQM chief Altaf Hussain for a national conference, but also accepted the MQM’s invitation to visit the party’s headquarters Nine Zero in Karachi.

The seven-member MQM delegation was led by Federal Minister for Overseas Pakistanis and the party’s parliamentary leader in National Assembly Dr Farooq Sattar whereas Senator Haji Mohammad Adeel headed the ANP team. MQM sources told Dawn that although the main purpose of the meeting was to extend the invitation to the ANP leadership for the proposed conference, the two sides spent considerable time in discussing the situation in Karachi.

After the meeting with ANP leaders, an MQM delegation headed by Senator Babar Ghauri visited the Lal Haveli residence of Awami Muslim League president Sheikh Rashid Ahmed in Rawalpindi.

Interestingly, Sheikh Rashid took the MQM delegation to a public meeting which he had arranged in his constituency and delivered his speech in their presence. Speaking to the people, Sheikh Rashid said he had asked the MQM to help the country get rid of the present “corrupt government” before initiating any move for the national conference.

The MQM delegation had visited the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) headquarters in Lahore and then met the PML-Q leadership in Islamabad on Tuesday.

Talking to reporters after the meeting on Wednesday, leaders of both the ANP and MQM expressed their concern over the law and order situation in Karachi and pledged to improve the situation through their joint efforts.

ANP’s Haji Adeel said his party believed in resolving issues through talks and said that peace in Karachi was equally important to the two parties.

Dr Sattar said the country’s political and religious leadership must sit together to bring the country out of the prevailing crises.

“All religious and political parties, even the armed forces, should come together at the roundtable conference to formulate a strategy for the country’s security and survival,” he said, adding that no single party was in a position to handle the situation on its own.

He said the two parties discussed the Karachi situation and agreed to defeat those who were conspiring against the city.

Talking to Dawn, a member of the MQM’s newly-formed Central Executive Council, Zahid Mehmood Malik, who was part of the party delegations which met ANP leaders and Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, said the party was trying to bring the country’s political, religious and military leadership on one platform in an effort to forge a consensus on resolving issues of national importance.

Answering a question, he said the MQM had sent requests to the PML-N, Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf and the JUI-F for similar meetings, but it had received no response from them so far. He agreed that the participation of major opposition parties was required for the success of the proposed roundtable conference.