LAHORE - The federal government doesn’t support Mr Altaf Hussain’s demand that Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif hold a meeting with an MQM delegation to address the misunderstandings on both sides.

“The MQM people should hold talks with the Sindh chief minister who is supervising the operation going on in Karachi”, Minister for Information and Law Pervaiz Rashid said while talking to The Nation on Sunday.

The Sindh government, he said, was in a better position to solve all problems of the MQM.

Altaf Hussain had called for a meeting between the MQM leaders and the Army chief in his latest address to his supporters.

The Nation asked: A number of cases are pending against the MQM chief. Various assemblies have passed resolutions seeking trial of Mr Altaf Hussain on treason charges because of his provocative utterances against the army. But the government seems to be dying to persuade him that the MQM lawmakers take back their resignation. Why don’t you adopt a clear policy about the MQM? The minister said the cases against Altaf Hussain as well as the MQM legislators’ resignations are realities that have to be addressed simultaneously.

“If somebody has violated the law, he should face the consequences. We are not saying the law shouldn’t take its course”, the minister said.

He said the people of Karachi had elected the MQM leaders to represent them in assemblies, and by trying to convince the MQM that they withdraw their resignations, the government is in fact trying to protect the rights of the Karachi voters. “We don’t want the Karachi people to lose representation in legislatures”.

All MQM Senators, MNAs and MPAs tendered en bloc resignations a few days ago to mount pressure on the government to make the Karachi operation “even-handed” and accept other demands. The government has put the resignations on hold and asked JUI (F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman to hold talks with Mr Altaf Hussain to resolve the issue.

When pointed out that the MQM has not handed over the 187 suspects the Rangers wanted to investigate because of their alleged involvement in criminal activities, the minister said proceedings to have access to the suspects would continue. He said the government wants to proceed against the accused and at the same time see the MQM as part of the assemblies.

“What if the MQM refused to withdraw the resignations?” he was asked.

“The government would take an appropriate decision according to the requirements of the situation”, replied the minister.

He said the government had adopted the same policy about the PTI. He said although the PTI legislators had tendered resignations, the government brought them back to the elected houses to protect the rights of their voters.

He said a different policy about the MQM resignations would provide the critics with an excuse to say that the government had different yardsticks for Sindh and Punjab legislators.

The MQM chief said in a TV interview on Sunday evening that if the MQM legislators’ resignations were accepted, the party would take a collective decision on whether to contest the by-elections. So far, he said, there was no decision on the subject.“ I don’t want confrontation with the government”.