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January 25, 2020

Govt-MQM talks likely to make headway

Pakistan

January 25, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The talks between the government team and a delegation of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) are yet to make any headway on two out of the four main issues but hopes have emerged that the disgruntled Karachi-based ally of Imran-led government would again join hands with it in the coming days, sources told The News here on Friday.

A three-member MQM-Pdelegation, including Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Amir Khan and Kunwar Naveed Jameel, met with the government team, led by key member of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Jahangir Khan Tareen and discussed in detail four major issues that were yet to be resolved to satisfaction of all the stakeholders. "They included reopening of the MQM-P offices in Karachi, recovery of missing persons, Karachi package," the sources said.

The sources said the government team comprising Jahangir Khan Tareen and Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak assured the MQM-P delegation that the federal government was ready to fulfill its promise of giving development package worth Rs162 billion for uplift of Karachi but it needed time to resolve other issues such as recovery of missing persons and reopening of MQM-P’s offices in Karachi. They said the re-opening of the offices of MQM-P is still a hard nut to crack because the political government needs some kind of endorsement from the security institutions since these offices were used for terrorism and strikes.

"The government side informed the MQM-P delegation that various other organizations like the Sunni Tehreek and Pak Sarzameen Party are also not being allowed to set up or re-open their party offices in the port city,” the sources said.

It is pertinent to mention here that a crackdown was launched against the MQM following the August 22 speech by Altaf Hussain in which sector offices of the party were shut down. The sources said the MQM-P delegation took a firm stance over its claim of some 200 missing workers at which the government team repeated its stance that it would talk to the relevant authorities to address this issue. “The Pakistan Rangers, Sindh, had categorically stated in the past that instances of ‘willful disappearance’ of the activists should not be counted as ‘missing persons’ because according to it Altaf Hussain asked his core workers to go into hiding after massive crackdown against the MQM in 2016,” the sources said.

Expressing readiness to provide funds under the Karachi Package, the sources said the government team underlined the fact that there must be some kind of understanding between the stakeholders that the taxpayers money was used in the right direction. Apart from construction of federally-funded university in Hyderabad, there are approximately 18 projects under the Karachi uplift package worth Rs162 billion including widening of Northern Bypass, improvement in Lyari Expressway project and a road project to link the Karachi Port Trust to Port Qasim.

According to sources, the MQM-P is of the view that the federal government would provide financial package under the main brackets after which the local government would decide further allocations and sort out the modalities, but the federal government believes that the money would go waste if this kind of procedure is adopted for Karachi’s development.

As far as the rejoining of the government is concerned, the government team at the moment failed to convince the MQM-P delegation, but sources expect the MQM-P to rejoin the federal government after resolution of its basic issues. The sources said Jahangir Khan Tareen informed Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui that the federal government would not accept his resignation and it would do everything to again make him rejoin the federal cabinet.