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Muttahida-PTI ‘accord’ keeps ties cordial

May 08, 2013

KARACHI, May 7: Though both the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) have dismissed that there is a ‘tacit agreement’ between the two that Imran Khan will not mobilise his election campaign in the urban centres of Sindh, analysts believe that the camaraderie could be significant in the post-election scenario, it emerged on Tuesday.

Mr Khan made a brief visit to Karachi on Tuesday before going back to Lahore and getting injured in a fall at an election rally. Here his most significant activity was a visit to the Quaid’s mausoleum, besides his meetings with local party leaders and cadres.

He had cancelled his rally in Karachi at the eleventh hour citing security reasons, fuelling speculation that his party did not want to upset the apple cart in Karachi, unlike the way the PTI was crossing swords with Nawaz Sharif’s Muslim League in Punjab, and that the PTI and the MQM had a ‘tacit deal’ vis-à-vis elections in urban Sindh, Karachi in particular.

The speculations are rife despite a statement by Mr Khan upon his arrival in Karachi in which he said the MQM was the PTI’s ‘key rival’ in Karachi and the Pakistan Peoples Party in the rest of Sindh.“Here in Karachi the MQM is the PTI’s main rival and the PPP in the rest of Sindh,” he told reporters at Quaid-i-Azam International Airport on his arrival.

Insiders in both parties dispelled the impression about the speculated deal. However, it emerged that they had no hard feelings against each other as they had a few years ago. Sources did not rule out that the leadership of the two parties ‘understandably’ avoided to criticise each other as both eyed the post-election scenario, which could bring a lot of surprises in an anticipated hung parliament.Analysts said for the PTI, Punjab was much more important than Sindh, where the party had little hope to win even a single seat, which was also a reason for its chief to spend its energies in the constituency where it could make the most.

“In fact, Imran’s visit to Karachi had a political notion to woo the voters in Punjab,” said Syed Jaffar Ahmed, a professor in the Pakistan Study Centre, University of Karachi.

He said the Quaid’s mausoleum had great importance for the people in Punjab and Mr Khan’s visit here was bound to make an impact on his constituents in the country’s most populous province where more than half of the National Assembly seats were up for grabs.

“Going to the Quaid-i-Azam’s mausoleum counts a lot for anyone coming here from Punjab. And at a time when Imran promises that he will make it the Pakistan of the Quaid and Allama Iqbal, it was highly important for him to make a visit here,” said Mr Ahmed.

He said the MQM had no danger, whatsoever, from the PTI in Karachi and if it had any danger to two or three constituencies, it was from the PPP or the Jamaat-i-Islami.

“The PTI has no prospect of winning any seat in Karachi, that’s why the MQM has no reason to get worried about it. However, the post-election scenario is certainly very important for both of them,” he said.

Sources in the parties confirmed that though both parties had no tacit agreement during elections, yet they had an unwritten understanding to maintain the ‘level of acceptance’ when it matters the most.

Though Mr Khan parried a query about his possible future allies, it is understood that every political force would search for allies after the general elections and so far every party has kept its doors open for each other except for a political wedding between the PTI and the PML-N.

“The MQM has a great amount of political pragmatism; it has been an ally twice with the PPP and the PML-N. So the MQM has every reason to keep its options open for all the parties,” said Mr Ahmed.

“No one should rule out the possibility of the MQM’s joining a PML-N-led future coalition, which could be conducive for the party when we see Sindhi and Baloch nationalists are also aligned with Nawaz Sharif, which could bring the MQM closer to those forces.”

Imran on Karachi

Mr Khan said he had to cancel his rally in Karachi because of the poor law and order situation. He said any untoward incident could have marred the party’s entire election campaign.

Talking to reporters upon his arrival at Karachi airport, he said his party had given a choice to the people of Karachi to decide whether they wanted to change their future from an ‘uncertain present’.

He asked the people not to vote for political parties, which had their own militant wings. He said once he grabbed power a ban on the militant wings of the political parties would be a top priority.

“The political parties, which run their own militant wings, will never reform the police as they realise that it would amount to shooting in their own foot,” he said.

He said the deteriorating law and order situation in Karachi had made its youth’s future uncertain.

“Kidnapping for ransom is the only business which is booming,” he said.