After quitting the coalition at the centre, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement is now giving “very serious consideration” to the option of leaving the Sindh government and a decision in this regard is expected in a few days.
On the other hand, the Pakistan People’s Party believes that a decision by the MQM to sit on the opposition benches in the Sindh assembly would have no effect on its government, but at the same time it hopes that the ally will remain with it.
“Yes, we are serious and you will see it in the next few days,” an MQM leader told Dawn when asked about the chances of the party quitting the provincial government.
He said issues more serious than a statement by Home Minister Dr Zulfiqar Mirza and local government elections had created differences between the two parties which had been together for almost three years.
Another MQM leader said the party believed that Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah was a ‘dummy’ chief executive and the government was being run by other people.
He said decisions in the province were being taken by President Asif Zardari’s sister MNA Faryal Talpur, Dr Mirza, Agha Siraj Durrani and Nadir Magsi.
The Chief Minister’s Adviser Sharmila Farooqi rejected the statement and a perception that MQM’s ministers were powerless. “It is absolutely wrong. We have been working together in the cabinet and there has been no interference in the affairs of each other’s ministries,” she said.
Despite all these issues, Ms Farooqi said she was hopeful that the MQM would not part ways with the PPP in Sindh, adding that it would not be in the interest of the people of the province.
She said there was no threat to the coalition government in Sindh even if the MQM decided to leave, but “it will be better, particularly for the people of Karachi, if we continue to work together”.
She said people had given a mandate to the MQM and the PPP respected it.
Moreover, President Zardari wanted to pursue the policy of reconciliation and take all the parties along, she said.
Ms Farooqi said Interior Minister Rehman Malik was in Karachi and his efforts would soon bear fruit.
As far as MQM’s grievances about local government elections and matters relating to governance and politics were concerned, such issues were always discussed and resolved at the level of a core committee comprising members from both parties, she said.
The PPP enjoys a comfortable majority in the Sindh assembly, having the support of over 100 MPAs in the 168-member house.
The Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Madad Ali Khan, is from the Pakistan Muslim League-F and two members of the party are ministers and two others advisers to the chief minister.
Meanwhile, MQM’s Punjab coordinator Zahid Mehmood said the party leadership had asked its workers to be ready for a big decision. He said the party had launched a mobilisation campaign.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) on Monday also submitted an application in the National Assembly to sit on the opposition benches.
An application was also submitted in the Senate secretariat to sit on occupation benches in the Upper House.
On Sunday, the MQM decided to sit on the opposition benches in parliament, leaving Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani as Leader of the House without a majority.
This was the second jolt suffered by the Pakistan People’s Party in a fortnight as the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F (JUI-F) led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman had quit the 32-month-old coalition government over the sacking of its minister against the backdrop of a Haj scam.
MQM’s decision to become a part of the opposition along with its arch rival Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) has made the political crisis more complex as political analysts see little chance of the emergence of a united opposition in view of the tense relationship between the two parties whose leaders last week took their war of words beyond civility while criticising each other’s leaders.
With the MQM members sitting on opposition benches, Prime Minister Gilani will be left with the support of only 160 members — 12 less than the required strength to maintain his position as leader of the house in the 342-member assembly.