Addressing a media conference alongside senior members of the opposition, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, a senior member of the Mutahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), publicly announced the party’s break away from the ranks of the government. The announcement comes just ahead of the no-trust motion session in the National Assembly. As MQM joins the opposition’s ranks, the government’s chances of coming out on top following the vote of no confidence look murky.
With the MQM breaking away, the government has lost not significant but really crucial votes ahead of the motion, which is likely to convene on the 3rd of April. The MQM leader said that “We have gathered at a historic moment. More than congratulations, this is a test through which the national leadership has to pass,” he further added that today was a day for “prayers” and hoped that the whatever happens in the parliament in the following days is a “reflection of the public desire.”
He said that the reason for their parting of ways with the government was the hope for a more enabling democratic environment, in view of which the MQM had joined hands with the opposition to walk towards that righteous path. He added, “We have joined you (the opposition) on this journey with these expectations. We have no individual or party benefits. Every clause of our agreement is for public good and especially for those areas whom we have been representing for the last 35 years. The areas for which we believe immediate steps are needed.”
The senior leader thanked the party leadership of the Pakistan Peoples Party for setting aside past differences and working towards a better future; he added that “They have initiated this journey of Pakistan’s prosperity and Karachi’s happiness.” Following Khalid Maqbool’s announcement, Shahbaz Sharif, the leader of the opposition “Today is an important day in Pakistan’s history because a joint opposition … a national jirga of the opposition … has come together after a lot of concerted effort”. He added MQM joining hands with the opposition has further strengthened this joint opposition and “in this regard I want to thank MQM-P and its workers who kept the wishes of the 220 million people of Pakistan [at heart] and made this decision. I am especially thankful to Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal that through this whole process of negotiations, they kept history aside. They have initiated this journey of Pakistan’s prosperity and Karachi’s happiness.”
Following Shehbaz Sharif’s remarks, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto also thanked MQM-P and described its decision of teaming up with the opposition as “historic”. “I want to repeat that PPP and MQM-P’s working relationship is not related to the no-confidence motion. PPP and MQM-P have to work together under any condition if we want to work for Karachi and Pakistan’s prosperity,” he said.
Talking about the numbers game, PDM chief Maulana Fazl Ur Rehman said that “As a result of these decisions (government allies joining the opposition), our strength in the National Assembly now stands at 176 while we need only 172.”
The initial announcement of MQM joining hands with the opposition was confirmed by Chairman PPP’s tweet, which read that “The united opposition and MQM have reached an agreement. Rabta committee MQM & PPP CEC will ratify said agreement. We will then share details with the media in a press conference tomorrow IA. Congratulations, Pakistan”.
The MQM-P, a key ally of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf led government, has seven members in the National Assembly.