Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has said that it has been left with no option but to take to the streets in protest against the recent decision of the federal cabinet to approve the controversial National Census-2017.
“What is the logic for us now to stay in the government? You (the government) have not implemented even a single point agreed with us,” said MQM Convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui while addressing Prime Minister Imran Khan at a news conference with federal Minister for Information Technology Aminul Haq at the National Press Club on Thursday.
“Tell us what should we do? Why are we in the government? Why are we in the cabinet? If we are not heard in the parliament, then tell us, should we come out of the elected houses? Is coming on the roads the only way to seek justice and raise voice against excesses?” Mr Siddiqui said while addressing Prime Minister Khan and his ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI). The MQM leader, however, did not give a categorical reply when asked whether or not his party had decided to quit the ruling coalition.
The MQM leaders held the press conference two days after the federal cabinet approved the 6th National Census-2017 with a dissenting note submitted by the party.
Read more: MQM-P, a difficult ally, decides to back the PTI-led government in the Center
Besides the MQM, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) also rejected the cabinet’s decision to validate the provisional census results without an audit in randomly selected blocks to remove “massive lacunae in the controversial” headcount exercise carried out three years ago as per the agreement with the parliamentary leaders of the Senate to correct the controversial census results through a recount of the population in five per cent randomly selected population blocks.
MQM-P once again threatening government to get “more”?
There is a perception that whenever the government is facing an existential challenge, its allies—PML-Q and MQM—appear to be demanding ‘more’.
In January this year, MQM-P warned the government of reviewing its support if the problems of Karachi were not adequately addressed. Then Mayor Waseem Akhtar, who is also deputy convener of the MQM-P’s Rabita Committee, said that his party would be compelled to review its support to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led government in the Centre if the problems of the city were not resolved.
He further said the MQM-P was not going to repeat the mistakes committed in the past as it would no more be a part of making or breaking the government. “We joined the federal government for the solution of problems in the city as our people are facing hardships,” he said, adding that the party would now have to decide whether it should continue its support to the federal government or not.
PTI’s chairman and Prime Minister Imran Khan directed a government committee to meet the MQM-P leadership to resolve their grievances after the Karachi-based party received an offer from the PPP to join Sindh Government. Sources inside the government believe that MQM-P is building up pressure on the government to get maximum benefits. It is worth noting that besides other important offices, the Law Ministry is held by Farogh Naseem, a prominent leader of MQM-P.
The MQM-P has six seats in the national assembly and one of its members is in Prime Minister Imran Khan’s cabinet. In the 2018 election, PTI emerged as the largest party in the urban Sindh with 14 national assembly seats in Karachi. The MQM-P showed reservations over the election results but became a part of the government after PTI leader Jahangir Tareen paid a visit to the MQM-P headquarters in Karachi’s Bahadurabad.
Read more: PM Khan praises MQM-P, bashes Bilawal
Surprisingly, speaking to the media, MQM-P leader Khawaja Izhar said his party was ready to accept Bilawal’s offer and join forces with the PPP if it improved the local government system in Sindh. “Our hopes from the federal government are dying as they did not honor their promises,” he said.