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MQM goes back on pledge to join march

KARACHI, Jan 11: The MQM launched a second ‘drone’ attack in as many days, albeit of a different kind, when it suddenly announced on Friday that it would not join the Jan 14 long march of the Tehrik-i-Minhajul Quran to Islamabad, but would continue to extend ‘moral support’ to Dr Tahirul Qadri’s initiative for electoral reforms.

The announcement was made less than 24 hours after MQM chief Altaf Hussain had declared in his address to a largely-attended workers’ convention that his party would take part in the march, come what may.

Senior MQM leader Dr Farooq Sattar said at a press conference at the Governor’s House that the party’s coordination committee had decided against joining the march and the decision had been endorsed by Mr Hussain.

Accompanied by visibly tense party leaders, including Raza Haroon and Mustafa Kamal, he said that Dr Qadri had been informed about the decision.

He said that there were reports that terrorists were going to sabotage the peaceful march and the MQM did not want to put the lives of innocent people in danger.

On Friday evening Dr Sattar had attended a meeting of Sindh coalition partners at Bilawal House in which President Asif Zardari, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and other leaders had reportedly tried to persuade him to urge his party’s leadership to review its decision about the march.

Also on Friday, in a telephonic contact with Pakistan Muslim League-Q leader Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, the MQM chief said that the decision of not joining the march had been taken in view of recent tragic incidents in the country.

PM Ashraf called Mr Hussain and thanked him for the decision.

Sources said that Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad and Interior Minister Rehman Malik had played a key role in persuading the MQM leadership not to take part in the march.

They said that the MQM had suggested to the TMQ leadership to postpone its march for the time being.