Estranged allies: PPP, MQM in talks to paper over differences

Zardari assures Altaf of addressing irritants in a phone call.


Salman Siddiqui December 30, 2010

KARACHI: Backchannel negotiations between the estranged coalition partners – the MQM and the PPP – continued on Wednesday but no breakthrough appeared to be in sight, sources said.

On a day when a full-frontal clash between the MQM and PML-N appeared to overshadow coalition worries, talks between the allies were quietly carried on at a senior level.

Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik held a two-hour long one-on-one meeting with Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad in the evening. The key sticking points between the two parties figured in the discussions and a final proposal was crafted before it is presented to President Asif Ali Zardari.

Immediately after the meeting, Rehman Malik went to the Chief Minister House where he met Qaim Ali Shah and Federal Labour Minister Khursheed Ali Shah.

President Zardari had appointed Malik and the chief minister to sort out the issues with the MQM. However, Khursheed has also now joined in the mission to make peace with the party.

Malik informed the two about the irritants that remained after his discussions with Governor Ibad, and the trio devised a strategy to deal with the situation. The three are expected to brief the president about the progress made so far, over the next 24 hours.

Presidential spokesperson Farhatullah Babar denied that President Zardari met Governor Ibad for the second time in as many days late in the night. “It seems that the television channel representatives attended the meeting without my being part of it,” he quipped, adding that if there was to be a meeting, it was not expected tonight. Television reports insisted that a meeting took place at the Bilawal House late on Wednesday night with Zardari, Ibad, Qaim Ali Shah and Malik in attendance. A source from the MQM, however, confirmed to The Express Tribune that Governor Ibad was summoned to the Bilawal House late in the night.

President Zardari even made a phone call to MQM chief Altaf Hussain late at night, in which he reiterated his message of reconciliation.

MQM’s deputy parliamentary leader Haider Abbas Rizvi said it was not true that the party had lost its focus on its issues with the PPP in the face of the escalating feud with the PML-N.

“Contacts are being made with us from the PPP and we are responding to them,” he said, adding that if the grievances of the party were addressed, the coalition would stay intact. Rizvi said it was important to keep the ball rolling. However, he added that no breakthrough had been achieved thus far.

Meanwhile, Rabita Committee member Wasay Jalil added that MQM chief Altaf Hussain has given instructions to all his party followers to stop giving any statement against the PML-N. Jalil said that no one from their party from now on would be issuing any kind of statement against the PML-N.

Jalil, added that opposition leader in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ahmed Khan had alleged that Engineer Tariq Mehmood, who was federal minister in the MQM government in 1990 was killed by the party, which is untrue.

“Mehmood is still alive and we will soon be holding a press conference at his house, proving that no one from the MQM ever harmed him or his family,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 30th, 2010.

COMMENTS (1)

Liaquat Ali | 10 years ago | Reply Making baseless accusations is PML-N's old habit. Good for the MQM that it is taking the bull by the horn and responding to each and every specific accusations hurled by the PML-N. Soon the PML-N will realize that their jingoism is no more in the world of private media, blogs, twitter and mobile phones.
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