LAHORE - The Muttahida Qaumi Movement has dropped the idea of holding a Round Table Conference after the PML-N, the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf and the Jamaat-i-Islami refused to participate in the moot, a senior party leader indicated here on Tuesday.
He said an RTC was the call of the hour and it must be held to evolve consensus on important national issues.
The MQM had planned to hold the RTC mainly to discuss the internal and external threats to the country. The presence of the US ships in the region and the worsening situation in Balochistan were the main items on the agenda. However, other parties suspected the MQM’s intentions and started alleging that the RTC was aimed at delaying the general elections by a year. Some said if the term of the existing assemblies was extended, President Zardari would get an opportunity to get himself elected for another five years, a situation not acceptable to them at any cost.
The MQM vehemently denied that it was working on any such agenda.
The idea of holding an RTC was first discussed by an MQM delegation with President Zardari. Agreeing to the need for the RTC, the president immediately directed the prime minister to organise the moot.
But the MQM held meetings with other parties to persuade them to participate in the conference, which was expected to be held after Ramadan.
The MQM delegation called on PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Jamaat-i-Islami amir Syed Munawar Hasan and ANP leadership.
While the Jamaat leadership expressed their reservations about the MQM-sponsored moot, the PML-N and the PTI refused to attend for their own reasons. And with three such parties staying away, there is little incentive left for the MQM to go ahead.
The PML-N plans to hold a conference in Karachi on energy and economy by the end of August.
Bankers and energy experts will be invited to offer their views on both the subjects.
The Awami National Party has also decided to hold an energy conference on August 9.
The MQM leader said if invited, his party would participate in both the conferences.
About the PML-N’s refusal to attend the proposed RTC, Mr Iftikhar Randhawa said Mian Nawaz Sharif had taken a wrong decision by not agreeing to meet with the MQM delegation. He said the PML-N chief should not have refused to sit with the MQM even if he had differences over the agenda.
“The Sharifs have learnt nothing from the past mistakes. They stand where they were before being banished to Saudi Arabia in December 2000”.
About Imran Khan’s reluctance to attend the RTC, the MQM leader said it was an undemocratic attitude which he must change.
In fact, he said, the situation in the country was so serious that all parties, with or without representation in parliament, should sit together to find solution to all problems.
The MQM, he said, wanted national consensus and should not be taken as ‘advocates’ of the PPP.
He said it was appreciable that the Jamaat leadership had heard the MQM’s viewpoint before refusing to attend the RTC.
“We welcome the PML-N and the ANP for their decision to organise conferences. If invited, we’ll participate,” Randhawa said.