The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf was noncommittal on Tuesday to an invite from the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) for a roundtable conference of all political and religious groups.
A PTI team told a visiting MQM delegation that their party leadership would discuss the invitation before coming up with a reply. The team comprised PTI President Javed Hashmi, Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Information Secretary in Punjab Andleeb Abbas.
Although the PTI did not reject the invitation outright, the party’s leaders hinted after the meeting that they would not attend any roundtable.
MQM lawmakers have been meeting with leaders from various political and religious parties and inviting them to a proposed roundtable conference on national security.
The MQM delegation that met with the PTI leaders included Deputy Convener Senator Farooq Sattar, Raza Haroon and Wasay Jalil.
During the meeting, Hashmi discussed issues like extortion mafia in Karachi, rise in extremism and volatile security situation and unstable economy.
Asked if the PTI would attend the roundtable conference, Hashmi said, “We’ll consult the central executive committee and then take a decision.”
Hashmi also said Pakistan was being divided due to a “game played by international and regional powers” and encouraged the MQM to pressure the Pakistan Peoples Party and other coalition partners to install an interim government and hold general elections.
MQM leader Farooq Sattar said the proposal of a roundtable conference was floated by MQM chief Altaf Hussain in an effort to unite the parties to focus on grave issues facing the nation. Sattar invited the PTI to visit the MQM headquarters, Nine Zero, in Karachi.
PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi called for elections. “Now is the time to prepare for the elections and go to the people. If the MQM could put their weight behind this proposal we’ll be glad to accept it,” he added.
The MQM has already met with President Asif Ali Zardari, who is co-chairman of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, Jamaat-e-Islami, Awami National Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 8th, 2012.