KARACHI/ISLAMABAD - Top carders of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) have reached Dubai to chalk out strategy for the upcoming local bodies’ elections in Sindh and consider joining Pakistan People Party (PPP) government in the province before the polls, besides considering the ways to avert the heat it is facing due to the ongoing targeted operation in Karachi.
On the other hand, despite the tacit support of MQM, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) could not clinch any deal to jointly move a no-confidence motion against Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly. The PTI however could retake the issue in the coming days due to PPP's alleged ignoring its opposition partners on different issues.
According to reports, MQM leaders, along with Sindh Governor Ishratul Ebad Khan, rushed Dubai where they would consult with the party chief Altaf Hussain and try to take out the party form troubles of the targeted operation during which raids have been made at MQM offices and some of its activists have been arrest by police, forcing they party to suspended its organisational activities across Karachi.
The MQM delegation, which also included Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Adil Siddiqui and Baber Ghori, has reached Dubai on the directives of Altaf Hussain for the negotiations with the leaders of PPP including its co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and former Interior Minister Rehman Malik. MQM Deputy Convenor Dr Nadeem Nusrat has also reached in the Gulf city from London.
Sources said that the MQM and PPP contacts in Dubai have made significant progress and the PPP has invited MQM to join Sindh government. The latest round of talks between the old allies has been initiated after contacts through the backdoor channels, especially after a meeting between Asif Ali Zardari and Governor Ebad at Bilawal House Karachi last Saturday.
Sources added that during the meeting Zardari has conveyed a message to the MQM leadership and invited MQM again to join the provincial government. Both leaders decided that all issues between the two parties would be resolved through dialogue.
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah also called on the governor twice before his departure to Dubai on the direction of Zardari to discuss the MQM’s reservation regarding the targeted operation and delimitation in Sindh before the upcoming local bodies elections. The top leaderships of both the parties has also directed their cadres to stop issuing rhetoric statements against each other.
MQM Deputy Convenor Nasir Jamal rejected the media reports that they have decided to join the Sindh government and said that the meeting with PPP was part of democratic process. Talking to The Nation Nasir told that it is a usual meeting and agenda of the meeting includes various issues like the law and order situation in the Sindh and the ongoing delimitation and formation of the districts in the province.
He said it was the beauty of the democracy that the political parties and groups negotiate with each other over various issues and MQM being a democratic force will always be willing to hold dialogue with all the political forces of the country when and where needed. Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon too denied reports regarding PPP’s invitation to MQM for joining the government. He said the meeting was being held at the asking of the MQM which had some reservations.
On the other hand, the PPP, which is currently not enjoying much friendly relation with both MQM and PTI due to certain reasons, could face tough strict stance from PTI for not taking them into confidence on some matters. "Though PTI is not going to start (no-confidence) move against Leader of Opposition Khursheed Shah in the collaboration with MQM, but the matter would be deliberated in the party's meeting in coming days," PTI Central Information Secretary Dr Shireen Mazari told The Nation.
Mazari said although PTI has clear indications from MQM about bringing a joint no-confidence motion, they would not join hands with Muttahida on this matter for the time being due to certain reasons. "We will (however) discuss 'number game' and other relevant matter in our party meeting," she said. She expressed annoyance with Khursheed Shah saying that her party was not taken into confidence on a number of important matters including appointment of NAB chairman and NA standing committees chairmanships.
About nominating Awami Muslim League (AML) chairman Sheikh Rashid as leader of opposition, Mazari categorically ruled out this option. "We have respect for Sheikh Rashid but why should we give his name for this slot as we have a good number of senior legislators in the NA," she maintained.
AML Chief Sheikh Rashid has got attraction of media regarding this slot after his recent meeting with PTI leadership. Interestingly, Sheikh in different private TV shows have said that he was giving tough time to government on different matters and playing the role of a de facto leader of opposition in the NA.
Sources said MQM is annoyed over PPP government’s operation in Karachi and they are building pressure on PPP with issuing signals that they could play an important role with its 24 lawmakers in NA if any move is initiated by the PTI. Due to certain reservations, sources said, MQM has so far denied joining hands with PPP in Sindh as a coalition partner and gulf could further widen between two parties if the Dubai talks collapse.
But MQM's central leader Nasir Jamal, when contacted, denied any move from MQM against Khursheed Shah. "We are not moving or thinking to move any no-trust move against the leader of the opposition," he said. Responding to the reports about possible no-trust move, Khurshhed Shah had commented that if the PTI and MQM wanted to join hands to remove him, he had no objection. Shah said it was a democratic right of political parties to change the opposition leader.