MQM-PPP agreement

Should be seen as a chance for a fresh start for the country’s largest city

The agreement between the MQM-P and the PPP may be dismissed by observers as a formality that had to carried out to seal the deal for the MQM to switch sides and vote against the PTI in the coming vote of confidence. A definite-plus that the PPP had was that it could offer substantial concessions at the provincial level, and not just the federal ministerial offices that have been pledged. However, the MQM is in permanent minority, and can only be part of the ruling coalitions as a junior partner. It claims, not without reason, that agreements with the PPP have been made in the past and not been fulfilled, so that this agreement has third-party guarantors in former Balochistan CM Akhtar Mengal and PML(N) President Shehbaz Sharif.

This creates an opportunity for politicians to show a sense of fairness that has been absent in the past. It would perhaps be over-optimistic to expect the PPP and the MQM not to clash, and thus the guarantors increase in importance. It might be impossible for the MQM, the PPP or either guarantor to rise above their political interests, so in the event of any difficulty, it would be advisable for all parties not to try and be clever, but to state their interests as plainly as they can. They will find the frankness appreciated, and reciprocated, and it should lead to a holding together of a relationship that has seen difficulties in the past. Though the PPP has conceded substantial changes to local government law, it should not try later to reverse them, for they are the ones most likely to cause problem.

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One thing should be clear to the MQM: there will be no return to the bad old days, when e-Supremo Altaf Hussain pulled the strings from his London self-exile. It might be difficult for the MQM leaders who have signed the agreement, for they were in leadership positions then, but they will have to accept the new reality. With the cooperation between rural and urban parts of the province about to start, there is a chance to bring about the kind of development that the country’s largest city needs.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected]


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