In a show of unity, representatives of bitter rivals Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Awami National Party (ANP) held a meeting in Islamabad on Wednesday.
Even more surprisingly, the ANP accepted an invitation to visit MQM headquarters, Nine Zero, in the heart of Karachi – a city where the parties’ rivalry has been at the centre of sustained violence.
The meeting came as a part of MQM chief Altaf Hussain’s call for forging unity among political forces to save Pakistan from “unseen threats.”
Speaking to the media after the meeting, MQM leader Farooq Sattar said that all political and religious parties of the country should work together for peace and to ensure national security and stability.
“All religious and political parties, even the armed forces, should come together at a round-table conference to formulate a strategy for the country’s security and survival… No single party is in a position to handle the situation alone,” Sattar said.
Accepting Sattar’s invitation to visit Nine Zero, ANP leader Haji Adeel said that both parties could better work together to restore peace in Karachi to make the metropolis a place “like it was in the past, when it fed millions of families from across the country equally.”
Both MQM and ANP leaders decided during the meeting to tone down rhetoric against each other and make Karachi a better place to live for all ethnicities. The gathering between the two parties followed another meeting between rivals, MQM and the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), in Lahore.
The MQM has also met with the PML-Q in this regard.
‘No political motive’
Talking to The Express Tribune later on Wednesday, MQM spokesperson Wasey Jalil said the meeting was in response to Altaf Hussain’s call to involve all parties in a national debate.
He added that an MQM delegation had already sought time from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leadership for a similar meeting which might take place within the next three or four days.
Jalil insisted that there was no ‘political motive’ behind these gatherings, and that the MQM merely wants to gather parties on a single platform to make a national policy for Pakistan.
Meanwhile, in Peshawar, ANP Provincial Information Secretary Arbab Tahir told The Express Tribune that they would decide an appropriate day to visit MQM headquarters in wake of the invitation. He added, that although MQM and ANP had had their differences, “No party can deny political contact between each other, it’s necessary for sustainable democracy.”
Tahir said that one agenda for the anticipated visit would be to expose elements involved in acts of terrorism in Karachi. He added the ANP was in favour of deweaponisation in Karachi, as it’s the only way of bringing sustainable peace to the city.
WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY OUR CORRESPONDENT IN PESHAWAR
Published in The Express Tribune, July 26th, 2012.