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January 14, 2020

Federal ruling coalition: 7 MQM-P votes small in number, too heavy in weight for PTI

National

January 14, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The seven votes of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) in the National Assembly though small in number carry an extraordinary weight for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led federal government.

Their importance and bearing becomes all the more significant and heavy in the given precarious scenario as the central setup survives on a few votes of smaller parties. A consoling factor for the PTI for the moment is that the MQM-P has pledged to continue its support to the ruling coalition although it has walked out of the cabinet.

The MQM-P’s final adieu to the PTI will lead to paramount hardships for the federal government to overcome. Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui has announced that he is quitting the federal cabinet while the MQM-P has no control over the other federal minister, Dr Farogh Naseem, because he was inducted in the cabinet not on its but some others’ recommendations.

Considering the crisis that hit his government, Prime Minister Imran Khan declared that all the promises made with the MQM-P would be honoured and its trust would not be allowed to be shattered. A PTI delegation led by Federal Minister Asad Umar rushed to Karachi to hold talks with the MQM-P although Siddiqui clarified that the huddle was scheduled prior to his announcement to relinquish the cabinet post.

For the time being, the unproductivity of the meeting may be dissatisfying for the PTI as Siddiqui stuck to his guns not to retract his resignation. Asad Umar conceded that Siddiqui maintained his decision.

Besides Siddiqui, the MQM-P is represented by Eng Sabir Hussain Kaimkhani, Salahuddin, Iqbal Muhammad Ali Khan, Syed Aminul Haque, Usama Qadri and Ms Kishwar Zehra in the National Assembly. In addition, it has five votes in the Senate, which are also very critical for the PTI as it doesn’t have too many supporters in the Upper House of Parliament.

The MQM-P’s main grievance is that the PTI has not fulfilled the promises made with it despite repeated reminders. However, Asad Umar as usual sounded very confident that a number of projects have been launched in Karachi as demanded by the MQM-P.

It is stated that the MQM-P has started agitating in view of the fast approaching local government elections in which it will obviously be pitched against the PTI among other political forces especially in Karachi and Hyderabad. While it used to be the largest parliamentary party from the mega city for decades, it is now the PTI, which snatched this place in the 2018 general elections.

The MQM-P’s declaration to quit the federal cabinet is the repeat of the pattern it has been following with every federal government it has been aligned with. Mostly, it has been successful in squeezing concessions for its rank and file.

It has been in alliance with the governments of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), and had been saying goodbye to them when they had or were about to run into trouble.

It has been generally argued that the PTI government gained after the parliamentary approval of the legislation to give three-year extension to Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa as the Chief of the Army Staff while the PML-N and PPP suffered for their U-turns. But still the MQM-P unraveled at this point of time its old strategy, raising many eyebrows.

While the MQM-P’s uneasiness has come to the fore and has not been undone even by the initial government efforts, the Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) is also apparently flexing its muscles to articulate its reservations that it has been airing frequently.

However, despite its discomfort with the federal ruling alliance from day one, the BNP-M has been standing with it and voting for its policies in Parliament. It has four members in the National Assembly.

The votes of the MQM-P and BNP-M put together are too many for the ruling coalition, which will make every attempt to keep them on its side to survive.

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