Zardari invites MQM to immediately rejoin govt
By Syed Irfan Raza
ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari called Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain on Friday and invited his party to immediately rejoin the ruling coalition. At the same time, he ordered the authorities concerned to take severe action against troublemakers in Karachi.
“Elements behind the recent spurt in violence are those who want to drive a wedge between the PPP and MQM,” the president was quoted by his spokesman Farhatullah Babar as telling Mr Hussain. The call was made during a meeting on Karachi situation held at the presidency.
MQM’s gesture of rejoining the government “will send a powerful signal to deter the crimes mafia and gangsters”, he said.
The MQM chief said ending violence in the city was critical for peace and stability and his party would support any move aimed at restoring peace.
However, he also complained about the attitude of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) towards his party.
President Zardari expressed concern over the complaint and ordered an inquiry.
The meeting was attended by Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan, Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, Religious Affairs Minister Syed Khursheed Shah, President’s Secretary General Salman Faruqui, Sindh Home Minister Manzoor Hussain Wasan, Local Government Minister Agha Siraj Durrani, Information Minister Sharjeel Memon, Law Minister Mohammad Ayaz Soomro, Agriculture Minister Syed Ali Nawaz Shah and MNA Abdul Qadir Patel.
The governor and chief minister briefed them on the situation with particular reference to the new wave of violence and target killings.
It was decided that the Sindh government would work out with Balochistan’s authorities arrangements to allow pursuit by Sindh police of gangsters and criminals fleeing from Karachi and step up surveillance of the routes leading to Karachi to keep an eye on criminal elements and illegal movement of weapons. The meeting reiterated that no criminal would be spared and their political affiliation would be no consideration.
It decided to beef up the intelligence network in Karachi to provide real-time information to police so that those planning criminal activities could be apprehended.
A committee comprising the Sindh governor, chief minister and home minister was set up to monitor the situation in Karachi.
“The committee will remain in constant touch and keep the presidency informed of the latest situation in Karachi,” the spokesman said.
President Zardari said all victims of violence should be compensated immediately. Fateha was also offered for those who had lost their lives in recent violence.
Azfar-ul-Ashfaque adds from Karachi: While complaining to the president against the FIA and IB, the MQM chief said the two agencies were involved in sending ‘fake and concocted’ reports against his party to a foreign government.
However, an MQM press release containing details of the telephonic conversation between the two leaders did not mention Mr Hussain’s remarks about the two civilian agencies.
The Karachi-based leadership of the party also expressed ignorance about reports on the matter broadcast by a television channel.
However, party sources confirmed that Mr Hussain had shared his concerns with the president about the involvement of the IB and FIA in spreading propaganda against the MQM.
They said the two agencies had sent some ‘concocted’ reports to the British government, holding the MQM responsible for the worsening law and order situation in Karachi.
The president assured Mr Hussain that he would personally look into the matter, the sources said, adding: “This is a serious
issue and, therefore, Altaf Bhai has brought it into the notice of the president. We are hopeful that he will take stern action against those trying to malign the MQM.”
About the president’s invitation to rejoin the federal and provincial governments and support the Pakistan People’s Party for strengthening democracy and solving the basic problems of people, MQM spokesman Wasey Jalil said Mr Hussain had listened to the president’s request but not given a categorical reply.
According to the press release, the MQM chief told the president that his party had “remained in the government with sincerity and supported the government in difficult times”.
It said the law and order situation in Karachi was discussed and both leaders condemned the acts of terrorism and kidnapping and slaying of innocent people.
“If the PPP and MQM don’t mount a united effort against terrorism and extremism, the terrorists will burn down our houses,” the president was quoted a saying.
He said orders had been given not to show any leniency to criminals destroying peace in Karachi.
Mr Hussain said certain elements in the government were not only supporting hardened criminals and killers but also posing for photographs with them.
He said the government could find out who was involved in extortion and kidnappings for ransom by contacting the business community.
He said the government should take indiscriminate action against criminal elements and murderers and gain the blessings of helpless people.