The political temperature is hardly known to stay normal in our country for too many days. Just when an apparent quid pro quo over a key legislation resulted in a tamed opposition and things appeared to have smoothened for the PTI to continue at the helm, the politics is back on the boil. And this time it is the government’s own allies that are up in arms. The MQM-Pakistan chief, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, has announced quitting his cabinet position. To make matters worse for the PTI, Akhtar Mengal, the head of the BNP, has also reportedly summoned a party meeting later this month to review progress on a six-point plan that formed the basis of their alliance with the government at the Centre.
Right now though, it’s the politics of Karachi that the PTI has focused all its attention on. And it’s the senior party leader and federal minister, Asad Umar, who has had to assume the conciliatory role that Rehman Malik used to play during the PPP rule — much to the criticism from none other than the now-PM, Imran Khan. Umar rushed to the MQM-P’s temporary headquarter in Karachi’s Bahadurabad neighbourhood yesterday along with other senior party leaders in a bid to woo Khalid Maqbool back into the cabinet fold. What transpired behind the closed doors is yet to be out officially with the two sides only downplaying the sudden political boil, saying that yesterday’s meeting was pre-planned.
Having six seats in the National Assembly, the MQM-P knows full well it’s time for them to press the government for the acceptance of their demands. While apparently, it is the public welfare projects that the MQM-P is emphasising on, the list of demands is also likely to carry some non-monetary items like reopening of the party’s offices, cases of alleged missing persons and some pending court cases. Well, not a small order for the PTI!
Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2020.