PPP-MQM – Presidential charm has not worked this time!
PPP-MQM – Presidential charm has not worked this time!
This time Muttahida Qoumi Movement is holding ground and not ready to settle down with mere promises on part of the Pakistan People’s Party to keep the fragile coalition bond intact and that was the reason they kept certain distance with the government at the time of presentation of Federal Budget and later tacitly rejected the finance bill as terming it conventional budget with no answers to the problems facing the country.
This time even the Presidential charm has not worked, who is staying in Karachi since his return from Chicago Summit trying to appease the MQM leadership, which according to the sources wanted concrete steps for let the alliance rolling.
The indifference shown by the MQM MPs during the budget session compelled the ruling PPP to come up with some confidence building measures like de-notification of Sindh Home Minister Manzoor Wasan who was earlier sent on long leave to calm down the MQM. After meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari the removed minister reportedly left Bilawal House with heavy heart escorted by his private security gourds .Wasan even refuse to talk with media persons waiting outside the Bilawal house. “I will not speak to you. Please let me go now” that’s what he simply told.
Some other insiders in PPP Sindh Chapter said that Manzoor Wasan was shown the door as he had refused to launch operation in Layri and preferred to go on long leave ostensibly for his medical check-up and treatment abroad.
Now for the time being the Home Ministry’s portfolio would remain with Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, a docile person by nature and acceptable to the MQM leadership as well.
It is unclear whether this move on part of PPP would provide the government a breathing space obviously to get the Finance Bill passed from National Assembly where they would greatly be depending on the strength of the MQM, as at this critical juncture where the general elections seemed imminent JUI-F would not take risk of siding with PPP which would definitely have adverse on its politics.
President Asif Ali Zardari is still operating his office from Karachi and would likely stay there till the time he would get assurance from MQM that they would not part ways with the coalition both at center and in Sindh Government.
ON the other hand MQM leadership knew it well that they would be running short of options and if their demands are not fulfilled by their senior coalition partner right now then they would be left high and dry and would enormously suffer in the upcoming elections.
On the other hand President Asif Ali Zardari, considered as very smart negotiator, finding it hard to buy more time from MQM for fulfillment of the promises, which were never met, which had become the basis of their alliance.
Some sources well aware of the developments taking place on this front informed that MQM wanted concrete steps toward materialization of their demands and are not ready to give more time for acceptance of their demands for extending support to the government in smooth passage of the budget and the events that followed it including the matter of the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s reflection on the petitions against the Speaker’s ruling and its fallouts.
The differences between the two key coalition partners re-surfaced when the MQM members of the Federal Cabinet boycotted the Federal Cabinet meeting held a couple of weeks back. This move is being considered as alarm bell in the ranks of the PPP, which is in the eye of storm nowadays with opening up of a number of fronts including their full-fledged confrontation with superior judiciary.
Reflecting on some of the longstanding demands of the MQM Parliamentary sources informed that MQM wanted its hand on law and order of the restive Karachi whereas the Awami National Party and even the Sindh Chapter of the PPP bitterly opposed the move and it would be extremely difficult for the President to make some commitment in this regard with MQM.
So the middle course President Zardari carved out in this Catch-22 situation was to send Home Minister Manzoor Wasan packing and temporarily handing over the job to Chief Minister, by and large acceptable to all due to his docile nature.
The uneasiness of MQM is genuinely growing as the government was in its last year of mandated term and could even embrace for early elections in the fall of the current year, so they could not afford to give more time to the ruling PPP for fulfillment of the promises and wanted some concrete steps right now.
Besides a role in the maintenance of law and order of the port city, MQM also wanted certain guarantees from PPP regarding fate and future of Local Bodies, delimitation of the constituencies as per their satisfaction and containing the militancy under what they termed the alleged patronage of the people close to the ruling PPP.
MQM wanted continuation of the District Government System introduced during the Musharraf’s era intact with little bit changes in it to satisfy the other coalition partners while the PPP Sindh chapter, ANP and PML(functional) wanted to revert back to the old municipality system of governance at local level under the 1979 Local Bodies Ordinance.
Sources in both parties informed that several meetings of PPP and MQM core committee were held but no breakthrough on this front was made due to inflexible stand of both sides on their point of view.
Now it would be seen how much ground PPP would concede in the days to come to accommodate the MQM, without annoying ANP and PML-F the other coalition partners, who too have equally vital stakes in the port city of Karachi.
By Syed Abid Gillani