ISLAMABAD/KARACHI: While controversial Dr Zulfiqar Mirza stuck to his guns on Thursday and submitted what he insisted was “evidence” against the MQM to the Scotland Yard, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement walked out of the National Assembly in protest, after which the president had to personally intervene to appease the estranged ally.
Meanwhile, the man behind MQM’s fury, Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon, returned to Karachi on Thursday and claimed that his visit to London was a personal one.
After having furthered tensions between the Pakistan People Party (PPP) and MQM, Memon said he will accept whatever decision is made by his party’s leadership. “I had not coordinated my visit with Mirza and was surprised to see him on the same flight,” he said.
President meets MQM delegation
Furious over Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon accompanying MQM’s most bitter critic to London, a three-member delegation led by Dr Farooq Sattar met President Asif Ali Zardari to express their grievances.
However, President Asif Ali Zardari seems to have helped settle the situation. “The president has assured us that he will be taking immediate and stern action against Memon. He also said that he would not tolerate any one who tries to damage PPP-MQM relations,” MQM parliamentary leader in the National Assembly Dr Farooq Sattar said.
Sattar added that during the meeting, the president also phoned MQM chief Altaf Hussain.
Memon has been summoned by the president. A party source said it is likely that Memon will be replaced. When asked, the party’s information secretary Qamar Zaman Kaira, however, said he could not speculate on what action the president would take.
MQM walks out of National Assembly
The government appeared to have no friend in the National Assembly on Thursday when the MQM walked out in protest of what they said was the “official protocol” accorded to Mirza.
MQM Deputy Parliamentary Leader in the house Haider Abbass Rizvi led the boycott and said his party wanted the government to explain its position. “It is a grave situation and it’s not acceptable to us,” he said before leaving the house. Some federal ministers tried to bring back the angered lawmakers, but to no avail.
Mirza submits evidence to Scotland Yard
Amidst all this, Mirza claimed he had submitted evidence against the MQM in the Dr Imran Farooq’s murder case to the Scotland Yard. He, however, did not give any details about the documents submitted, Express 24/7 reported. A TV channel reported that the evidence comprised phone records and transcripts of interviews but was not admissable.
PPP Sindh takes action
Back in Karachi, Chief Minister Sindh Qaim Ali Shah suspended the membership of PPP-MPA Imdad Pitafi for his association with Mirza.
Addressing a press conference along with around 12 ministers and MPAs of his party, Shah, who is also the president of the PPP’s Sindh chapter, criticised Dr Mirza and said that “he [Mirza] is no more a PPP worker and all his statements against MQM chief Altaf Hussain should be considered his personal opinion.” This statement came a day after Prime Minister Gilani said that the former Sindh home minister was “part of the PPP family.”
Everyone’s not on the CM’s side
In a late night meeting, PPP parliamentarians huddled at the CM House to formalise a strategy for today’s (Friday) Sindh assembly session.
As the meeting commenced, Shah, chairing the meeting, briefed MPAs about the decision to disown Zulfiqar Mirza and suspend the party membership of MPA Imdad Pitafi.
However, everyone was not on the CM’s side. Some members opposed the chief minister’s views, including MPA Aisha Khoso from Jacobabad and Sardar Ahmed Pitafai from Ghotki.
To deal with the turbulent situation, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani contacted the leadership of the allied parties and discussed with them the precarious situation.
A meeting between Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain who heads his faction of Pakistan Muslim League Qauid and Prime Minister Gilani was held on Thursday afternoon where Shujaat assured Gilani his party’s full support.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 18th, 2011.