Zardari hopes to keep frenzied MQM calm

ISLAMABAD    –   Pakistan People’s Party supre­mo Asif Ali Zardari is hoping to keep the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) calm as the smaller but crucial partner of the coalition government keeps the rulers guessing.

Zardari, the co-Chairman of the PPP, was the one who con­vinced the MQM to leave the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf-led government and join the coali­tion led by the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and the PPP.

The overall deal was kept se­cret but it definitely promised a due share in power to the MQM. This included Karachi Admin­istrator’s slot and possibly the Sindh Governor’s post.

The MQM was also offered to join the Sindh government and get share in the provincial cabi­net. The NQM already has seats in the federal cabinet.

MQM’s criticism target­ing the PPP after the first phase of the Local Government elections has sent alarm bells among the coalition partners as any adverse move by the MQM could become fatal for the government.

The MQM claims the PPP was not fulfilling its promises which may force the party to take its “own decisions” – a veiled threat that the MQM can quit the coali­tion government.

Zardari is again active to calm down the MQM and assure them of long lasting partner­ship. A concerned Prime Min­ister Shehbaz Sharif yester­day met with Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari – who is also the PPP chairman – and discussed a wide range of po­litical and economic issues par­ticularly regarding the coalition government.

The PM congratulated Bilaw­al on PPP’s victory in the Sindh Local Government elections but at the same time pointed to the MQM’s protests.

The meeting is seen as crucial amid a widening rift between the allied parties of the coali­tion government.

The MQM has earlier sought the PM’s intervention in imple­menting the deal with the PPP.

The PPP emerged victorious in the by-polls held in 14 dis­tricts of the province. How­ever, the MQM and the Jami­at-e-Ulema Islam-Fazl have threatened to quit the feder­al governing coalition if their concerns over rigging were not addressed.

The PPP has won over 2,500 seats in various categories and will be joined by over 300 in­dependent candidates. The PPP won almost all district council seats and 70 percent of Munici­pal and Town Committees.

Leaders of both the par­ties also asked Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to take note of “what the PPP has done with the coalition allies” in the local government polls in Sindh.

Federal Minister for Wa­ter Resources Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah said the PPP was ready for re-polling at the con­stituency in question.

Challenging those parties pointing fingers at the PPP’s victory in the LG elections in Sindh, he said they should just name the seats which had been allegedly rigged and “we would get re-polling on them.”

Khursheed Shah said, “Put your finger at the constituency of Sukkur, Larkana and Nawab­shah, we are ready for re-poll­ing.” He asked the MQM, the JUI-F and the PTI to decide the punishment themselves if the same result came out in the re-polling.

He said the political parties should be bold enough to open­ly accept the elections results.

“Unfortunately, the PTI has created an atmosphere that if it wins, it will be fine, otherwise it is rigged,” he added.

In April, the MQM had joined forces with the then opposition to support a no-confidence res­olution against then Prime Min­ister Imran Khan in the Nation­al Assembly.

Zardari has assured assured MQM convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui to act as guarantor for MQM’s deal with the coali­tion government. “I and Bilaw­al will look after the settlement reached with MQM,” Zardari had told Siddiqui.

Political sources said Zardari was optimistic to keep the MQM calm and win back their confi­dence to stabilise the coalition government

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