KARACHI: The Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) senior leadership said that the president has not set up any committee to speak to the banned Peoples Amn Committee (PAC), directly contradicting a statement made by PPP Senator Saeed Ghani earlier in the day that he had met the group and listened to their reservations, and said that if any decisions were taken that were not fair, they would be reversed.
According to Religious Affairs Minister Khursheed Shah, “No such committee has been set up by the president.” He told reporters that while the “party policy was one thing, people could meet them in their individual capacity.”
The PPP leadership was speaking to reporters at Nine Zero on Monday evening. A delegation of the PPP ministers, Khursheed Shah, Amin Fahim and Naveed Qamar, as well as former law minister Moula Bux Chandio visited the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) headquarters. They met the MQM’s provincial ministers Raza Haroon and Dr Sagheer Ahmed as well as Coordination Committee member Waseem Aftab.
The PPP delegation is visiting political parties in Sindh as part of an effort to reach a solution to the violence that has plagued the province.
Raza Haroon said that, “No politicians should have any links with those involved in extortion or crime,” while responding to a question on the PPP meeting PAC. He added that the PPP and MQM would play a role to bring peace in Karachi and Sindh.
At the meeting, the second between the two parties in the day after delegations from the two met at Governor House, the MQM reportedly stressed the point that its priorities must be included in the upcoming budget, which the party has already given the PPP an idea of by presenting a shadow budget to the prime minister. The other key point to the meeting was law and order and the MQM has repeated its stance over the banned Peoples Amn Committee.
The PPP leadership also spoke about the protests over the Mohajir Sooba Tehreek – including a rally that turned bloody in Karachi last week. This has dominated the province, but the MQM’s Haroon said that the party “does not want a division of Sindh.” Amin Fahim said, “Since this stance is clear, there is no reason for any fights.”
Shah, on the other hand, referenced calls for the creation of Sindhudesh ‘in the old days’ and said “No one ever went to meet with the people calling for that. The PPP and the MQM have a mandate from the people of Sindh and these other groups are not elected representatives of people.”
Shah blamed Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif for having spoken about the division of Sindh, and said the MQM’s stance on this was evident that they had condemned Sharif’s statement even before the PPP did.
Shah denied that the party was meeting with the Awami Tehreek, even though its leader Rasul Bux Palijo reportedly refused to meet with the delegation. Shah stressed that “everything had been clarified” as far as the calls for the division of Sindh were concerned.
While Haroon said that the MQM had expressed the concerns of its constituents who are as much a part of Sindh as anyone else, Fahim said that the PPP had heard the reservations of the MQM and was looking for a ‘justified’ solution to these. He said that the meetings had been held in an ‘amicable’ environment, though the fact that the party delegations met twice in a single day could be a sign that there are political negotiations underway to appease the MQM, a key PPP ally in the federal and provincial governments.
While people are riled at the power crisis in the country, PPP leader Amin Fahim said on Monday that the protests were not right. “People are protesting countrywide over power cuts, which is wrong,” he said. “We will gain control over this soon.” When Shah was questioned over the fact that while he had spoken of the mandate of his party and the opinion of the people, thousands of people in Lyari, a PPP stronghold, had protested against President Asif Ali Zardari. “It’s a democracy, and even in advanced democracies, people protest against their presidents,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 29th, 2012.
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