HYDERABAD: In an unprecedented move, one of the three mainstream Sindhi nationalist parties, the Qaumi Awami Tehreek, decided to set aside differences and reconcile with its erstwhile political foe, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement.
The ice broke following the mediatory role played by the former chief minister, Arbab Ghulam Rahim. It was through his efforts that a delegation of the MQM’s Rabita Committee called upon the QAT chief, Ayaz Palijo, at his residence late on Sunday night. The MQM delegation comprised Waseem Akhtar, Kanwar Naveed Jamil and MNA Zubair Ahmed. Former chief minister Rahim was also present at the occasion.
“I feared mass bloodshed in Sindh,” Rahim told a press conference after the meeting. “I personally approached leaders of both the parties to ask them to reconcile.” He was speaking in the backdrop of the MQM chief Altaf Hussain’s recent statement in which he had spoken about dividing Sindh into two separate urban and rural parts. Palijo had given a 48-hour ultimatum to Hussain to retract his statement and apologise, warning of a province-wide strike on January 6. Rahim maintained that a bloodbath would have ensued had the QAT gone ahead with the strike which was called off after the meeting.
The two parties share a history of hostility towards each other. Palijo used to describe the MQM as ‘urban terrorists’, while the latter had refused to even accept him as a political leader, mocking him of failing to secure a single union council seat in the past elections.
“Rahim asked me for the meeting,” Palijo said. “We agreed to it on two points - never again will the MQM talk about dividing Sindh and we will ensure that the MQM’s supporters and all other people of Sindh are not discriminated against.”
The QAT leader went on to advise the MQM to reconcile with other political parties too. “Injustice is being done to the Urdu-speaking community but the same is also happening to the Sindhis in the province,” he said, blaming the PPP’s provincial government for fanning the sentiments of ethnic discrimination.
“The PPP government is meting out cruelty against the urban supports of the MQM,” alleged Waseem Akhtar. He invited Palijo to work with his party against the excesses being done to the urban population. Jamil said that illegal delimitation was conducted in Karachi and Hyderabad to deny the rights of representation to the urban population in the local government system.
Explaining another statement of the party chief about Sindh one and Sindh two formula, Jamil said that the former would comprise the urban areas and the latter, the rural areas. “We challenge the PPP to give us control of Sindh one and then compare the development of both.”
Meanwhile, the QAT Rabita Committee’s secretary, Roshan Brahmani, resigned from the party in protest. He termed it a trade-off of the martyrs who laid down their lives in the struggle against the MQM’s conspiracies to divide Sindh.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 7th, 2014.
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