–Siddiqui says govt’s multiple promises to MQM and people of Karachi failed to materialise
–PM forms committee to address grievances of ally, says PTI will stand by its words
ISLAMABAD: Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) Convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui on Sunday announced his resignation from the post of the Information Technology minister over the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s failure to fulfill its promises to the party.
Addressing a press conference in Karachi, the MQM-P chief said his party, however, will not abandon the ruling PTI despite its reservations. He said he was forced to leave the ministry as his presence in the cabinet was raising a lot of questions due to the government’s inability to act on its promises.
He said that when his party became part of the federal government, they vowed to support the government through difficult times; however, despite the passage of 16-17 months, the government has failed to improve the conditions in Sindh.
“Two agreements were made with the PTI, one in Bani Gala and the other in the Bahadurabad in the presence of PTI senior leader Jahangir Tareen,” Siddiqui said.
“At this point, it has become difficult for me to remain in the government. I cannot remain a minister while the people in Sindh continue to face the same problems they did before we joined the federal government,” he said, adding that his party would have waited a little longer if the government had shown “some seriousness” in resolving Sindh’s woes.
“The lack of seriousness on these matters has left us no choice. The Rabita Committee held a detailed discussion on this issue on Friday and concluded that it was useless for me to remain a part of the cabinet,” he said, adding that despite the differences, the MQM-P would not end its cooperation with the government.
Despite the chief’s resignation, MQM-P leader and Law Minister Dr Farogh Naseem did not tender his resignation, implying that the party was divided on its strategy to deal with the PTI.
In response to a question regarding the ending of its alliance with the government, Siddiqui said, “We did not ask for the Law Ministry neither did we propose Naseem’s name. The two names that we had proposed for the ministry did not include Naseem’s name. The government had selected him on its own.”
Siddiqui also denied the notion that his decision had anything to do with the recent proposal of provincial ministries by Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari in exchange for his party’s help in toppling the government.
BODY FORMED TO WOO MQM-P:
Following Siddiqui’s announcement, Prime Minister Imran Khan vowed to resolve differences with its allied party and formed a committee comprising PTI senior leader Jahangir Khan Tareen, Planning Minister Asad Umar, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak and National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser in this regard.
He also said that he would himself speak to the MQM-P convener to convince his party to remain allied with the PTI.
It is worth mentioning here that the MQM has a history of using resignation as a tool for politically blackmailing allies as it had used the same strategy successfully in the past against the PPP and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
Following Siddiqui’s presser, informed sources told Pakistan Today that internal differences within the party pushed the chief to tender his resignation.
Sources said that the party’s top leadership was uncomfortable with the news that the premier was considering a proposal to appoint the incumbent law minister as the Sindh governor.
“Amir Khan has been uncomfortable with Naseem’s close association with the prime minister and the news of him being considered for the governorship fueled the internal conflicts, leading to the decision to veto the premier’s proposal,” sources said.
However, MQM-P leader Faisal Sabzwari rebuffed the claims. “Although I am not aware of these details, the idea seems to be far-fetched,” he added.
When asked about the reasons behind Siddiqui’s resignation, he said that the federal government had made several promises last year but none of them was materialised.
“The PTI signed several memorandums of understanding (MoU) but not a single one was implemented and this infuriated the people of Karachi. If they can spend Rs12 billion on Kartarpur Corridor and Rs10 billion on erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), why can’t they spare some expenses for Karachi?” he questioned.
He also said that the government had avoided his party’s other demands as well. “It has been well over a year since we joined hands with the government but our offices remain closed and the false cases against our leaders have not been quashed,” he added.
When asked whether the federal government had contacted the MQM-P leadership to address their concerns, Sabzwari answered in the affirmative.
“PM Imran has spoken to Siddiqui and Sindh Governor Imran Ismail has also contacted me. There have been other contacts as well and we are ready to talk to them,” he added.
“The planning minister had already scheduled a meeting with us tomorrow but the PTI is giving it a different angle to imply that they are coming to woo back our support. This is a prescheduled meeting but yes we will discuss our reservations as well,” he concluded.
Senator Mian Attique told Pakistan Today that four successive prime ministers have not implemented promises made to their party and hence the party’s decision to quit the federal cabinet was quite justified.
Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said that the premier will not disappoint the people of Karachi, stressing that the port city should be given its due rights. She maintained that the federal government will do justice to the mandate Karachi’s denizens had given to it.
“The MQM-P is and will remain our ally,” she said, adding that the party’s demand that the people of Karachi be given basic rights is a reasonable demand and reflects a vision that the premier himself espouses the commitment made by the PTI to the people of the metropolis.
Water Resources Minister Faisal Wawda told Pakistan Today that he has spoken to Siddiqui and discussed several issues with him. “He listened to me with patience. MQM-P’s reservations are valid and the federal government will continue to cooperate with the party for improving the conditions in Karachi’s ignored areas. The premier considers Siddiqui and other allies as his brothers and will not allow any ally to depart,” he said.
BNP-M SUMMONS EMERGENCY MEETING:
As the MQM-P made a move, media reports stated that Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) chief Akhtar Mengal has summoned an emergency meeting of the party’s core committee to discuss the development. The meeting would be chaired by the party chief in Karachi on Tuesday, reports added.
The BNP-M has four members in the NA. However, if the party abandons the government along with seven members of the MQM-P, the PTI would still have the support of 173 lawmakers, including five members of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), three of the Grand Democratic Alliance, five of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) and one each from the Awami Muslim League and Jamhoori Watan Party. The government is also supported by independent lawmakers, Syed Ali Nawaz Shah and Mohammad Aslam Bhootani.
On the other hand, the opposition has 156 lawmakers in the House. The PML-N has 84, the PPP has 55, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) has 16, and the Awami National Party (ANP) has one. If two independent lawmakers, Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar, also join the united opposition, the numbers would rise up to 158. Furthermore, if the MQM-P and the BNP-M also join them, the number would rise up to 169 – still eight less than the PTI and its allies.