PM chairs parliamentary parties’ meeting; Karachi operation to continue; Fazl asked to bring MQM MPs back to parliament; JI, PTI stay away from meeting; Farooq Sattar conveys reservations to Dar
By our correspondents
August 14, 2015
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and the parliamentary parties’ leaders on Thursday decided against accepting the resignations of MQM lawmakers from the assemblies. The decision came after two meetings in the prime minister’s chamber at the Parliament House. The first meeting was only attended by the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) leaders, while the second was also attended by the leaders of other parliamentary parties. Highly-placed sources told The News that the government will treat the MQM’s resignations issue the way it had treated the PTI’s. The prime minister also decided to form a committee, comprising multi-party representation, to talk to the MQM. All parliamentary leaders decided to coax the MQM into talks and to address its reservations. The parliamentary leaders tasked the JUI-F chief, Fazlur Rehman, with bringing the MQM lawmakers back to parliament. Talking to the media after the meeting, Fazlur Rehman said Opposition Leader Syed Khursheed Ahmad Shah had proposed his name to contact Altaf Hussain and the MQM leadership in Pakistan and convince them to withdraw their resignations and to get back to parliament. He said the MQM actions could cause a political crisis and he would spare no effort to defuse the situation. Fazl said he will also consult constitutional experts before approaching the MQM lawmakers and added that positives signs had been received from the MQM. The JUI-F chief said he had already stated his stance on the situation that resignations once submitted or sent to the speaker’s chamber could not be taken back as per the Constitution. The MQM lawmakers simultaneously submitted their resignations from the National Assembly, the Senate and the Sindh Assembly on Wednesday, citing reservations over the Rangers-led operation in Karachi. They also attached a 19-point charge sheet to the resignations. Syed Khursheed Shah and Fazlur Rehman were among those who were especially invited to the meeting of parliamentary leaders. PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi said his party had not been invited to the meeting. Jamaat-e-Islami was also conspicuous with its absence from the meeting, as its chief Senator Sirajul Haq was away in Bajaur. The National Assembly Speaker, Ayaz Sadiq, will keep the resignations issue pending till its resolution. The meeting also decided that the Karachi operation targeting terrorists will continue while the government will hold talks with the MQM to bring it back to parliament. Meanwhile, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar contacted the MQM leader Farooq Sattar over phone requesting him to take their resignations back. However, the MQM leader said his party had already conveyed its concerns to the government. Dar told him that the government did not want to see the MQM out of parliamentary politics. The minister assured the MQM leader that he would discuss the issue with the prime minister and contact him again. The government has assigned Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Fazlur Rehman to convince the MQM legislators to take their resignations back.