Sindh Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza has said that the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has not given an ultimatum but has asked for a clarification, which he has already given.
“If they are still not satisfied, the party leadership can give them another clarification,” he said at a press conference at the Pakistan Peoples Party media cell on Saturday.
Last week, the minister sparked an outcry after saying that 26 of the suspects arrested for target killings belonged to the largest political party of Karachi. The MQM promptly reacted.
While referring to the war of words that erupted, Mirza said on Saturday that tolerance was imperative in politics and in democracy and pluralism, everyone had the right to say what they wanted. “I welcome all the criticism against me,” he added.
He went on to say that the role of the MQM in maintaining law and order in the city was commendable.
He also thanked religious scholars, political and religious parties, law-enforcement agencies and the people of Karachi for a peaceful Ashura.
Militants were planning a big terrorist strike but the tightened security and efficiency of the law-enforcement agencies foiled all attempts, he said.
Nevertheless, the minister stood by his earlier statement on target killer suspects belonging to the largest political party of the city. The challans of some suspects have been presented and those of others will be presented in court soon.”I don’t sit and have dance parties with terrorists,” he said. “I send them to court.”
The minister reiterated that he had just told the truth. “It was nothing personal. My statement was based on intelligence reports, which comprised facts,” he said. “I am not scared of anyone.” Mirza said he had been keeping President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah in the loop since day one and everyone knew who was responsible for the terrorist activities in the city. “We will not tolerate criminal behaviour.”
If the MQM wants to leave the government, it is their call, he said. Refuting the numbers game, he said that the PPP already had the number of seats it needed in the assemblies and it would have the required number even in future.
Everyone knows about the CD of the speech and if the coalition partner wants to send the CD to the president and the prime minister, they are welcome to, Mirza said.
“I can’t say anything though if there is some other CD [that they want to show],” he added. “As home minister, I have presented the report I received from the intelligence agencies in front of the public because I have the people’s mandate and I am accountable only to them.”
“I do and will always have the support of the party and as I have spoken the truth, it was likely to cause a stir,” the home minister affirmed.
Pir Mazharul Haq
Earlier at the press conference, Sindh Education Minister Pir Mazharul Haq called the MQM their “ally” and said that the ruling PPP would respond to the MQM’s 10-day ultimatum when the time was right.
Replying to questions, he said that there were no disputes between the two coalition partners but that only time would tell if the statement by the home minister, regarding the MQM, were right or wrong.
Provincial ministers Muhammad Ayaz Soomro, Rafique Engineer, Nargis ND Khan, Sajid Jokhio, Rashid Rabani, Sharjeel Inam Memon, Najmi Alam and other members were present.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 19th, 2010.