Govt intensifies efforts to get MQM back
ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari called Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain on Monday and again invited the MQM to rejoin the coalition government as a fresh round of talks between the two parties remained inconclusive, sources in the presidency told Dawn.
Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Khurshid Shah, who was assigned by the president the task of bringing the MQM back to the government, called on Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad in Karachi along with provincial PPP leaders, but the meeting made no significant headway.
Sindh Home Minister Manzoor Wasan called on the governor separately. Responding to newsmen’s questions after the meeting, he said he hoped that all issues between the PPP and MQM would be settled by next week.
He said the MQM legislators would get all the ministries they held before quitting the coalition and if they were not satisfied “we will give sacrifice to take them along”.
“President Zardari called Altaf Hussain last night,” said President’s Spokesman Farhatullah Babar.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Interior Minister Rehman Malik contacted Altaf Hussain on Sunday and asked him to let his party rejoin the ruling coalition.
Sources in the PPP said there were a number of issues which needed to be settled, including the reversal of commissioner system in Sindh, reallocation of ministries to the MQM at the centre and in Sindh and the ongoing operation against criminals and extortionists in Karachi.
Mr Gilani and Mr Malik called on the president and discussed the Karachi situation with particular reference to efforts for a fresh alliance with the MQM.
Meanwhile, former Sindh home minister Dr Zulfiqar Mirza continued his outburst against the interior minister on Monday and blamed the president for giving a high position to Mr Malik in the PPP and in the government.
He told a private TV channel that anyone who was involved in an attempt to dismember the country should resign. “Even President Zardari should resign, if he also is involved in it,” he said.
According to the sources, Mr Malik apprised the president of the progress of his meetings with MQM leaders and efforts to curb violence in Karachi.
Mr Malik also conveyed his concern to the president over allegations levelled by Dr Zulfiqar Mirza.
The president’s spokesman said Mr Zardari stressed that necessary measures should be taken to maintain peace in Karachi and action against criminal elements and extortionists must be even-handed and across the board, without any political consideration.
Habib Khan Ghori adds from Karachi: As the government continued its efforts to persuade the MQM to rejoin the PPP-led coalition, PPP ministers held two meetings with Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan.
Minister for Religious Affairs Khurshid Shah, along with Sindh Local Government Minister Agha Siraj Durrani, called on Dr Ibad at the Governor’s House.
This was the second contact between the two parties in 24 hours.
Former federal law minister Senator Babar Awan and Agha Siraj Durrani had met the governor on Sunday night. Khurshid Shah was scheduled to attend the meeting, but could not make it because he arrived in Karachi from Sukkur late in the night.
Mr Shah and Mr Durrani had a detailed exchange of views with the governor on Monday on the political situation in the country and about the strategy to meet the challenges.
They expressed determination that political atmosphere could be improved and democracy could be strengthened by promoting political tolerance.
They agreed to forge lasting coordination between the two so that they can play an effective role in the development of the country and the province and jointly meet the challenges facing the country.
They also reiterated determination to render every sacrifice for strengthening the democratic dispensation.
Mr Durrani said after the meeting: “An Eid Milan party will be held after the return of MQM to the government.”
Home Minister Manzoor Wasan also met Governor Ibad and briefed him on measures taken to curb criminal activities in the province, particularly in Karachi.
They agreed to move ahead with the action without any discrimination to restore peace in the city.
They also expressed determination to try to restore confidence of people in law-enforcement institutions and ensure durable peace.