MQM fires warning salvo at Government
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27/12/10  KARACHI: In what appears to be an attempt to mount pressure on the Pakistan People’s Party, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement decided on Monday night to quit the coalition government at the centre in protest against the former’s reluctance to openly disown the Sindh home minister’s diatribe against the latter.

However, the MQM decided to continue sitting on the treasury benches and support the government for the cause of democracy.

The MQM made it clear that quitting the federal cabinet did not mean that the party was joining the opposition in parliament.

Sources said that President Asif Zardari had invited a six-member MQM delegation to a meeting in Karachi at the expiry of the deadline on Saturday, but the party expressed its inability to send the delegation, saying they were busy in making arrangements for the public meeting in Bhit Shah on the same day.

“MQM parliamentarians will continue to sit on the treasury benches in the National Assembly, Senate and the Sindh Assembly because the party does not want to destabilise the government,” MQM leader Faisal Subzwari told Dawn. He said any decision to quit the Sindh government or not would be taken later.

Earlier this month the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F, a coalition partner of the PPP, left the federal government in protest against the sacking of its minister. The PPP-led government will lose majority in the National Assembly if 25 MQM legislators decide to sit on the opposition benches.

Mr Subzwari said that two federal ministers — Dr Farooq Sattar and Babar Ghauri — will submit their resignations to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday. Dr Sattar is Minister for Overseas Pakistanis and Senator Ghauri holds the portfolio of Ports and Shipping.

The decision was taken after a delegation of the MQM visited Garhi Khuda Bakhsh earlier in the day to pay homage to former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

The coordination committee of the MQM held a meeting in the evening simultaneously in Karachi and London to chalk out a strategy upon the expiry of a 10-day deadline on Saturday.

The MQM gave the ultimatum after Sindh Home Minister Dr Zulfikar Mirza had in a speech on Dec 13 held it responsible for target killings in Karachi. The party asked the PPP leadership to clarify whether the minister’s statement was his personal opinion or reflected the PPP’s thinking.

Interestingly, a statement issued by the MQM on Monday night contained nothing about the home minister’s diatribe and the subsequent deadline given to the PPP, the controversial issue of revival of the commissioner system in Sindh and imposition of the reformed general sales tax.

It only focussed on the party’s relations with the federal government.

The statement said the coordination committee had reviewed matters relating to its three-year stint with the PPP government and its lack of interest in giving any importance to the suggestions and proposals made by MQM ministers.

“The coordination committee has unanimously concluded that the ministries it has in the federal cabinet are of no use since the recommendations and proposals (of MQM ministers) are being ignored without citing any reason.”

However, it said, to continue the democratic process, the meeting decided to give the government more time to improve its function and resolve issues like price hike, unemployment, law and order and corruption on a war-footing manner.

“A decision will soon be taken about quitting the federal government and future relationship with the Sindh government as a coalition partner,” it concluded. The statement was silent on the future of Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad, who is an MQM member.
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