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PPP-MQM Talks end With Asif Zardari Assurances

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Posted by on Wednesday, March 9, 2011, 10:38
This news item was posted in Pakistani News, Politics category and has 0 Comments so far .

President Asif Ali Zardari, who is also co-chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), has assured the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) that all its grievances about the situation in Sindh will be removed and that the ruling party will not support ‘criminal elements’.

PPP-MQM Talks end With Asif Zardari
PPP-MQM Talks end With Asif Zardari

The president held out the assurance to a four-member MQM delegation, headed by the party’s parliamentary leader in the National Assembly, Dr Farooq Sattar, after discussing for almost three hours the situation in Karachi, with particular reference to a recent statement of Sindh Home Minister Dr Zulfiqar Mirza about a controversial peace committee that had created tension between the coalition partners.

Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar told Dawn that during the meeting, President Zardari also talked to MQM chief Altaf Hussain in London by phone and discussed the points raised by the delegation, which included Senator Babar Ghouri, Dr Sagheer Ahmed and Raza Haroon.

The president assured the MQM that ‘criminal elements’ in Karachi would be “curbed with an iron hand and every individual living in Karachi will be provided security”.

Taking notice of the recent developments in Karachi, President Zardari assured the MQM team that he would convene a meeting of Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad, Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah and provincial leaders of his party to thrash out the issues raised by them.

The meeting, he said, would be convened within a week.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who has always played the role of a mediator between the two parties at the time of mounting tensions, and presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar were also present.

According to Mr Babar, the president assured the MQM that “no criminal will be allowed to seek shelter behind political facade of any sort and every citizen of Karachi will be provided security”.

President Zardari said political forces should also be watchful and guard against elements seeking to drive a wedge between them and creating conditions of anarchy.

The MQM leaders avoided talking to reporters present outside the Presidency and said the party’s coordination committee would announce its future course of action after they would brief it about their meeting with the president.

Before the meeting, the MQM leaders had said that they would seek a categorical reply from the president whether he wanted to take the MQM along or to support those allegedly patronising extortionists and criminals in Karachi.

The Muttahida’s coordination committee had earlier announced that the party would boycott the sessions of the Sindh Assembly, the National Assembly and the Senate till the resolution of the row.

A fresh war of words between the Sindh home minister and the MQM erupted on Sunday when Dr Mirza, in a speech in Malir, said the People’s Amn Committee — allegedly formed by the members of the two rival gangs of Lyari — was a sister organisation of the PPP and dubbing all its members as criminals would be tantamount to levelling the same allegation against him.

The MQM has been alleging that the committee’s members are involved in extortion, kidnappings for ransom and robberies in Karachi and says it believes the body is backed by Dr Mirza and some other PPP figures.

The party claims Dr Mirza’s latest statement proves the minister’s ‘open support’ to what it calls criminals and terrorists.

Sources in the Presidency said the MQM leaders lodged a strong protest over the statement and asked the president to take practical steps against him to satisfy them.

The president, the sources said, told them that he had already ‘admonished’ the home minister over his recent statement and that a decision about him would be taken soon.

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