KARACHI: In their efforts to “explore ways to strengthen democracy” by meeting leaders of political parties in Karachi, the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz’s high-powered delegation on Friday spent a busy day on its second and the last day of the visit to the metropolis. Meanwhile, the MQM-P rejected the news that it had supported the PML-N leader Iqbal’s stance to conduct fresh elections in the country.
The PML-N delegation, comprising the party’s central vice-president and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, secretary general and former interior minister Ahsan Iqbal, Secretary Information Marriyum Aurangzeb and Senator Musadiq Malik, had arrived in the city on Thursday on a two-day visit.
On Friday, the PML-N delegation met the MQM-P’s disgruntled leader and senior politician Farooq Sattar and discussed the ongoing political situation in the country. After the meeting, Abbasi along with Sattar spoke to the media and said that the former ruling party had granted a huge amount for various mega projects of the city.
“We came here [Karachi] on the directives of party president Shahbaz Sharif,” Abbasi said. He said that in the meeting, they discussed the economic and democratic challenges the country was facing and found each other on the same page about their resolution.
The former prime minister said that a new political contract should be formulated followed by a free and fair election to solve the national issues. He said that for the first time, it is immensely felt that culture of dialogues has been vanishing among the political parties and the current federal government was responsible for it.
Discussing the issues of Karachi, Abbasi said that Karachi is the financial hub and economic engine of the country and has the potential to bring development and prosperity to the country.
“Karachi should not be ignored and federal and provincial governments should allocate funds for the development of metropolis,” he said. “If Karachi does not develop, then Pakistan will not progress.”
The delegation also offered Sattar to join the PML-N and recalled that the party supremo Nawaz Sharif had also once asked him to join his party. “The Muslim League is the party of ancestors of Sattar and therefore there is no need to offer him to join the party,” said Iqbal, the PML-N’s Secretary-General. He said that Sattar is an experienced politician and keeps a good reputation in mainstream politics.
Sattar, who is heading the MQM (Organisation Restoration Committee) after expulsion from the MQM-P, welcomed the PML-N delegation and said that he knows the PML-N leaders for the past three decades. “We had worked together in parliament and also in the opposition,” said Sattar. “I consider Abbasi and Iqbal my seniors.”
He said that the ruling government should give space to the opposition and devise a strategy by inviting all political parties to discuss the challenges the country had been facing. Discussing Karachi’s issues, Sattar, who also remained the city mayor, said that for the past 12 years, the city was not given a single drop of water and the acute shortage of water can cause ethnic violence again in the city. He also said that the PTI government had failed to resolve the basic issues of the people. Sattar said that an apology should be offered to Karachi similar to the offers made to Balochistan. He also asked the PML-N to support the demand of the recovery of the missing MQM workers.
Meanwhile, the MQM-P in a statement on Friday rejected the news that the MQM-P has supported the PML-N leader Iqbal’s stance to conduct fresh elections in the country. On Thursday, the PML-N delegation met the MQM-P’s convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and leaders. “The MQM-P leadership had clearly said in the meeting that it is supporting the rule of law and constitution, election reforms and free and fair polls,” it said.
Later, the PML-N delegation arrived at the Idara Noor-e-Haq, the Jamaat-e-Islami Karachi office, where they met the JI leaders, including Karachi chief Hafiz Naeem ur Rehman. The delegation offered its condolences over the demise of JI’s senior leader and former Nazim Karachi Naimatullah Khan, who passed away recently. Paying tributes to JI’s deceased leader for his role in the development of the city, Abbasi said that the work he did for Karachi was exemplary. The leaders of PML-N and JI also discussed the ongoing political situation in the country, particularly in Karachi.
Abbasi said that every stakeholder needs to unite for the development of Karachi. Criticising the government, he said that the people of Pakistan need fair and transparent elections.
In the afternoon, Abbasi at the residence of the PML-N Sindh president Shah Muhammad Shah spoke to a media briefing and said that the current governance model has failed in the country and to resolve long-standing issues the country faces, there is a need to find a new governance model.
Although, the Sindh province has been given huge funds in the NFC Award, the PML-N’s previous government had carried out record development projects, including completion of the Lyari Expressway, built two power stations in Hubco and Port Qasim and the Green Line project, said Abbasi.
The former prime minister said that people’s miseries had been compounded because of inflation eroding their purchasing power. He said Pakistanis were not allowed to benefit from reduced petroleum prices in the international market.
In the presence of the PML-N’s central leadership in the city, Sarfaraz Jadoon, the ANP Sindh’s vice-president and former MPA candidate, announced to join the PML-N.
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