What will Bilawal’s threats mean if PTI imposed Governor rule in Sindh?

Bilawal threatens to topple the government. What if the federal government decides to place governor rule in Sindh?

PTI

PTI’s chairman and Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday directed a government committee to meet the Muttahida Quami Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leadership to resolve their grievances after the Karachi-based party received an offer from the Pakistan Peoples Party (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 two of its members are in Prime Minister Imran Khan’s cabinet. In the 2018 election, the 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 the part of the government after PTI leader Jahangir Tareen paid a visit to the MQM-P headquarters in Karachi’s Bahadurabad.

It was also learned that a government committee headed by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) former secretary-general Jahangir Tareen will meet the MQM-P leadership this week on the directives of Prime Minister Imran Khan. It is still not clear who the members of the committee, which will be led by Tareen, are.

Read more: Bilawal Bhutto calls PM Imran ‘incompetent, unskilled’

The government will review the MQM-P’s demands, hear its grievances on the issue of missing persons and take stock of the party’s demands for Karachi’s funds.

Speaking to 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.

Bilawal offers ministries to MQM-P

It is worth noting that the PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto has publically offered ministries to MQM-P if it decides to quit the coalition government in the center. During his address, Bilawal said if MQM breaks off its alliance with PTI and manages to get Sindh its share in resources, the provincial government will “stand by [MQM] for the sake of Karachi’s people”.

“Today or tomorrow, all the facilitators, all the allies [of PTI] will have to take this decision, will have to save Pakistan and end Naya Pakistan. Topple it, topple it, topple Imran’s government,” he said. “We will give you equal number of ministries in Sindh. The only condition is that you send Imran home,” the PPP chairman further said.

MQM-P’s Response

In response to Bilawal’s offer, Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar, who is also an important leader of the MQM-P, had said the party will take the final decision on whether it should quit the coalition government or not. He said while the MQM-P and the PPP could “sit together” to solve Karachi’s problems, the mayor said his party had not joined the coalition government for seats but to resolve Karachi’s outstanding issues. “MQM-P has never indulged in the politics of ministries. We supported the PTI so that Karachi’s issues could be resolved,” Akhtar had said.

Moreover, the MQM-P also issued a statement on Monday, in which it said that while the party was not satisfied with the PTI-led government’s performance, it will continue to support it.

Announce special package for Karachi and Hyderabad

The MQM-P asked the federal government in the last month to announce special packages for Karachi and Hyderabad.

Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, the MQM-P leader and a minister in Prime Minister Imran Khan’s cabinet, told the reporters that the country’s economy was going to be stabilized soon. “The indicators are telling us that the economy is going to be stabilized,” he said after a meeting with the PTI delegation. Siddiqui, however, complained that Karachi is not being given the importance.

Read More: Bilawal Bhutto Questions Imran Khan’s political credibility

Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who came to MQM-P’s Bahadurabad office along with Sindh governor, assured Siddiqui that their concerns would soon be addressed. “They cooperated with us in difficult times and supported us,” Qureshi told reporters.

It is worth mentioning here that “It is unfortunate that Prime Minister came to Karachi and announced Rs162 billion for Karachi but we didn’t even get Rs1billion from those Rs162billion,” senior MQM-P leader Amir Khan had told media on November 16.

Inquiry against PPP’s chairman

PPP’s chairman is facing an inquiry and has repeatedly declined to appear before the NAB. The charge against Bilawal is that the company he, and his father, own allegedly set up fake bank accounts to transfer billions of rupees received as kickbacks and bribes.

On the recommendation of a Joint Investigation Team, NAB has opened up two cases against the PPP leader. Of which, he has already been cleared of all charges in one.

In July, the Bureau removed Bilawal’s name from a case involving Park Lane Estate Pvt. Ltd, a construction company in Karachi. The PPP chairman was a 25 per cent beneficial owner of the company. As it withdrew the case, the anti-corruption body admitted that it did not find any evidence to directly link the younger Zardari to the fraudulent transfer of funds.

The second case against Zardari, for which he has been summoned on December 24, relates to a company titled, JV Opal 225. The company is a joint venture between the Zardari Group Pvt. Ltd — of which Bilawal is a director — and a large real-estate business.

Read more: Fake accounts case: JIT questions Bilawal Bhutto

JV Opal was set up in 2011 and had its office on a property in Karachi owned by the Zardari Group. From 2011 to 2013, the company did not generate any revenue, yet it purchased major assets, agriculture lands, commercial and residential properties in Islamabad and Karachi, states the JIT report.

Political commentators and opinion-makers in Pakistan believe that the PPP chairman seems to be desperate to avoid any case against him. To ensure that, he has threatened the incumbent government by offering ministries to the MQM-P. Analysts question that will the PPP be able to defend itself if the federal government finds justifiable grounds to impose governor rule in Sindh?

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