Talks with MQM remain inconclusive: Zardari seeks more time

MQMP leader Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui addressing a press conference on January 2, 2023. Screengrab of a Twitter video. 
  • Talks between MQM, PML-N and PPP remain inconclusive. 
  • Zardari seeks time from MQM to consult his party leaders. 
  • He assures MQM that issues will be resolved in two to three days.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader and former President Asif Ali Zardari said that the Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQMP) is an ally and will remain so. However, he sought time from the MQM over their demands in connection with local bodies elections and delimitations.

The PPP co-chairman said he needs time to consult party leaders. He, however, assured the MQM that the matter will be resolved in two to three days.

The PPP and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) have failed to allay the reservations of the MQM mainly on the issues of delimitation of constituencies and upcoming local government elections in Karachi.

On Monday night, former president Asif Ali Zardari presided over a round of talks at Bilawal House. Media reports said that negotiations remained inconclusive. As the PML-N’s representatives, Rana Sanaullah and Ayaz Sadiq attended the meeting. The MQM was represented by Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Sindh Governor Kamran Tessori, Federal Minister Faisal Sabzwawri, Waseem Akhtar, Jawed Hanif and Khawaja Izharul Haq.

The PPP was represented by Sindh CM and his cabinet members.

Both the PPP and PMLN made it clear that the reservations of the MQM would be allayed in accordance with the law as deliberations would continue to find a way out in this regard. More talks among the political parties, which are part of the ruling coalition in the Centre could be held in near future to settle the reservations of the MQM.

The MQM leadership said that they would come up with a decision on this issue only after duly consulting the workers of their party. The MQM leaders demanded that both the PMLN and the PPP follow through on the agreements they had signed with the Muttahida before the formation of the country’s new coalition government.

They said that they had serious reservations about the existing delimitation of the constituencies in Karachi, which should be rectified. They made it clear that the MQM was ready for the local government polls but its demands regarding the delimitation of constituencies were in accordance with the law.

The representatives of PMLN and PPP said that reservations of the MQM would be preferably resolved while duly considering it as an allied political party. The legal team of the Sindh government reportedly briefed the meeting that any changes in the delimitation of the constituencies couldn’t be carried out instantly before the local government elections as the procedure in this regard could consume up to four months due to the involvement of a lengthy exercise to redraw the constituencies.

The legal team said that the Sindh government was under an obligation to conduct the local government polls in Karachi and Hyderabad as per the directives of the Election Commission of Pakistan. The ECP could initiate punitive action against the provincial government authorities for disobeying its orders to conduct the polls. The Sindh government officials said that the final decision to hold the polls or defer it rests with the ECP as the provincial government could not take any decision in this regard on its own. The ECP officials themselves have been supervising arrangements to timely hold the polls in Karachi and Hyderabad on the scheduled date of January 15.

After the inconclusive talks with PDM leaders, the MQM-P delegates called on Governor Kamran Khan Tessori and decided to stick to their position on the need for new delimitations before the conduct of the local government elections in Karachi and Hyderabad on January 15.

According to sources, the Muttahida accused the PPP of not intending to honour the agreements the two parties had signed before and after joining the PDM. They said the MQM-P vowed not to let anybody do injustice to urban Sindh. The party said it had become part of the federal ruling coalition not to do politics but to solve the problems of urban Sindh. The party was also said to have decided to hold a general workers’ meeting, while another meeting with the PPP was likely to be held today.

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