KARACHI: The PML-N delegation in a bid to strengthen the country's democracy met the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leadership on Thursday.
Addressing a press conference after the meeting, MQM-P leader Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui said: "Pseudo-democracy cannot solve Pakistan's issues […] real democracy is the only solution for the country’s problems."
Siddiqui was accompanied by MQM-P leader Amir Khan, PML-N leaders Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Ahsan Iqbal, Miftah Ismail, Marriyum Aurangzeb, and Musadik Malik.
“We should envision such a democracy where farmers, labourers represent their peers and where common people are lawmakers, who not only know but have also faced a common man’s problems.
“After today’s positive meeting I believe that we are ready for a strong democracy,” said Siddiqui.
Abbasi — a former prime minister — said the meeting had aimed to explore ways to strengthen democracy. It was held "not with a coalition partner of the government but with our political colleagues who have been with us for 32 years now," he said.
"We discussed the ongoing political situation in the country and put forward our [PML-N’s] concerns regarding the threats that democracy and economy face and how we, together, can solve these issues.
“I am glad to share with you that we found consensus in our thoughts,” said Abbasi. “Pakistan’s problems can only be solved through democracy and this has always been our stance, we don’t just talk about elections."
The PML-N leader added that the stakeholders should revive the system and come up with "new ways to tackle the country's issues”.
In response to a question on what condition the public would be in should the incumbent government complete its tenure, Abbasi laughed, saying he could not provide a proper answer while standing beside the Khan administration's coalition partner.
"What I can say, however, is that I pray that this government completes its tenure so it may expose them to the people and the damages they have done to the country,” he noted.
“But if I give my opinion as a Pakistani, I believe each second of this government is a burden on the country. They have failed to deliver and the economy is sinking,” he lamented. "I couldn’t imagine that a political party could damage the country’s economy as they [PTI] have done.”
The former PM reiterated that there was an urgent need to form a new government in Pakistan.
Refuting a reporter’s question that the PML-N did not deliver in Karachi, he said: "It is on record that our government released a lot of funds for provinces and supported them. You will not find an example like that.
"There has been no deal with anyone," he said, while referring to the PML-N leaders being released on bail. "We always talk about the country’s problems.
“Sadly, we are looking suspiciously at the top judiciary that it grants bails after people strike deals. There is no divide between the leadership of PML-N, we stand by our stance,” he said confidentially.
Earlier, Abbasi had visited Quaid's Mausoleum alongside Iqbal and other senior party leaders. He had said the country in its present state was far from Jinnah's vision of a democratic state.
"There is no democracy in Quaid’s Pakistan but dictatorship" at the moment, he had said. "Karachi was the city of lights in 2018 and there was peace" in the metropolis.
"There was no inflation during PML-N’s tenure," he emphasised, referring to the record inflation in Pakistan at the moment.
"Today, the public suffers because of record inflation. [Prime Minister] Imran Khan is responsible for the price hike in the country. We have never seen inflation like this in the country. The situation is not normal.”
The former prime minister added that PML-N would win the next elections. "We are not power hungry, we just want to restore order in the country," he said.
"The country cannot progress in the current environment. In 2018, we had said election was controversial and that Pakistan was facing dangers from inside.
"There is no democracy in Quaid’s Pakistan but dictatorship," he added. "We do not power; we just want the country to progress. The world is going somewhere else and Pakistan somewhere else.
"This is everyone’s country and we want it to go forward and progress,” he added.
When asked whether a great alliance was being formed to remove the government, Abbasi said there was no need for one. "We came to Karachi to meet everyone. Our doors are open for everyone."
Prior to that, Iqbal after arriving at the airport spoke to the reporters, saying they were going to pay their respect at Quaid's Mausoleum after being granted bail.
“This is the same city that had been a hub of targeted killings and extortion. The PML-N brought peace to the city," he said. "During our tenure, more than 200 factories that had been closed were reopened.”
The former interior minister added that the PML-N delegation was in Karachi with party supremo Nawaz Sharif’s message. "This city’s mandate was stolen in 2018. This will be PML-N’s fortress,” Iqbal said.
Party insiders had earlier told The News that the Karachi visit was part of the PML-N's strategy to tour the country and meet political and religious groups to understand the ground situation and evolve a consensus among smaller political parties before initiating an anti-government drive.
The PML-N leaders, who are in the southern port city for a two-day visit, were expected to meet their counterparts from the PSP, JI, and the Dr Farooq Sattar-led faction of the MQM.
They were set to discuss the country's political situation, as well as that of Karachi, ahead of the local body elections, for which they would discuss opportunities for "alliances and understandings".
The sources further said the central leaders would also address the party workers at Muslim League House, where will also try to remove differences among the PML-N's presidents for Sindh and Karachi, Shah Muhammad Shah and Salman Khan, respectively, both of whom were running two parallel organisational structures in the metropolis.
They were also set to attend a party luncheon meeting at Shah's residence.
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