The see-sawing relationship between the PPP and the MQM appears to be on a high once more. Quite astonishingly, given the harsh rhetoric used over the past few days over the two parties are reported to be in the process of patching up. It is becoming harder and harder to keep track of the number of times the two have fallen out and then become friends once again.
This time, a distinct formula forms the basis of the agreement. It focuses on the local government system — the factor which had first led the MQM to express strong disagreement with its PPP ally.
According to a report in this newspaper, an agreement has been reached between the PPP and the MQM for the latter to rejoin the government. This, even as provincial leaders of the MQM met their PPP counterparts at an iftar hosted by the Sindh chief minister and told the press assembled there that they knew of no such developments. However, their attendance by itself may mean that the patch-up is perhaps a reality. The report says that the local government system of 2001, which brought in the system of nazims, is to be brought back to Karachi and Hyderabad. The commissionerate system will remain in place in the 21 other districts of Sindh. The MQM is urging an end to the Local Government Ordinance 1979, the 1861 Police Act and the commissionerate system. It is not clear how far talks have developed on these fronts. But new laws for the changes in Karachi and Hyderabad already agreed on are said to be in the process of being drafted. The key point, beyond the details, is that the MQM and the PPP seem to be on their way to holding hands once again. MQM leaders have indicated that Eidul Fitr will be marked together and even before the month of Ramazan is over, the MQM could rejoin the federal and provincial cabinets. In many ways, all this seems like a bit of a farce. We have seen similar scenes being played out far too often. But for Karachi and also for Sindh the omen is a good one. It could mean a return of peace to the city and an end to the tensions that have triggered bloodshed there over and over again. This would be the best news we have heard in weeks.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2011.