Rapprochement: PPP confident of MQM rejoining govt

Govt willing to concede most demands; MQM insists decision to sit on opposition benches is ‘final’.

Hafeez Tunio August 01, 2011


Some government functionaries are confident that the MQM may soon rejoin the government and a formal announcement would be made during President Asif Ali Zardari’s next visit to the city.

MQM leaders, however, refuted the reports and insisted: “Our party has made its decision. It has no other option but to sit on opposition benches.”

“The PPP is willing to meet all MQM demands, including the appointment of officers in Karachi and Hyderabad divisions, but there is a deadlock on local government legislation and the commissionerate system. The MQM is also seeking Sindh home ministry in view of (maintaining) the law and order situation in Karachi,” sources privy to key developments said.

President Zardari, the sources said, is learnt to have directed PPP leaders to overcome maximum possible MQM grievances by making amendments to both bills.

However, they said, the government was not willing to accommodate MQM on the home ministry issue.

Sources said that a meeting between the Sindh governor and senior PPP leader Khurshid Shah (who heads one of the committees) was held at the Governor House recently in which it was agreed to make some changes in the local government system. But MQM, they said, had asked the government to wait for a while.

Sources privy to the development told The Express Tribune that leaders of both parties have “held successful talks” and there “are chances that MQM may rejoin the Sindh government in the first phase”.

Two committees, formed on President Zardari’s orders, have been in contact with Governor Sindh Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan, who is playing the role of a mediator between the two parties.

Sources said that the government was ready to give a share to MQM in provincial and federal cabinets, but the MQM wanted drastic changes in local government system of 1979 and the commissionerate system, which have been revived by the provincial government.

Officials privy to these developments said three ministries in the federal government, including ports and shipping, overseas Pakistanis and a state ministry, were still lying vacant for MQM members.

“If the MQM rejoins the government, it is possible it may get five or six important ministries,” sources added.

Minister for Local Government Agha Siraj Durrani, who is a member of one of the negotiating committees, was confident about the MQM rejoining the government. He insisted that the MQM would “rejoin before Eid”, adding that the coalition would continue in the best national interest.

MQM Rabitta Committee member Wasay Jalil rejected both the assertions and said that his party was seeking to get hold of the home ministry. He insisted that the MQM had “decided to sit on the opposition benches”.

“We have asked the government to control the law and order situation in Karachi before talking to us on this issue,” he said.

There were also reports that after rejoining the government, MQM would be given share in the Azad Kashmir government as well.

But Wasay Jalil reiterated: “No one should believe rumours,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2011.