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New life for govt; MQM & PML-Q announce return to coalition

06 October, 2011

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ISLAMABAD: The PPP-led government on Wednesday came back from the brink and breathed a sigh of relief as it won back the estranged Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), which agreed to join the federal and provincial governments, while the PML-Q took back a threat to quit government.

In what comes a respite for the besieged PPP-led government, which had been taking flak over issues raining from chronic electricity outages to its response to the floods in Sindh, it finally succeeded in convincing the MQM to rejoin the coalition government in the Centre and in Sindh, in a late night development.

Briefing media in an informal press conference after finalising and settling the issues at Sindh Governor's House, Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan announced MQM's return to the government. Ebad said it was a very difficult political decision, and was taken in the country's greater interest, especially to face current challenges.

He said that the party would retake all the provincial and federal offices, which its MNAs and MPAs had quit earlier, and work with the government in pursuit of a prosperous Pakistan. The governor said that the party chief Altaf Hussain had given the go-ahead for the move after he concluded that the party's presence in the government was vital for the country.

He appreciated the reconciliation efforts of President Asif Ali Zardari, Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik, and others. MQM did not make any demands with respect to portfolios that would be accorded to ministers and left the decision at the discretion of Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah and the PPP.

Both President Asif Ali Zardari and Altaf Hussain remained engaged in talks prior to the announcement of MQM's rejoining of the government. Sindh chief minister welcomed MQM's decision, saying that both the parties had been able to repair the cracks that had appeared in their ties. "All the breaches in the ties have been filled, reservations addressed and hatchets buried," the CM said, adding now the PPP and MQM stand as one.

He asserted that the coalition had never suffered any damage. While lauding Altaf Hussain's political vision, saying he had made a patriotic decision, Qaim said that we would now work together to make this coalition work. The meeting in the Governor's House was attended by senior MQM members, including Farooq Sattar, Babar Ghauri and Raza Haroon. The PPP was represented by Khursheed Shah, Manzoor Wassan, and Agha Siraj Durrani.

Separately, a breakdown of PPP and PML-Q alliance was averted on Wednesday when top leadership of both the parties put their heads together to sort out differences, which had threatened the five-month-old power sharing agreement. President Zardari and PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain held a meeting in Presidency, where both agreed to continue their parties' alliance.

The PML-Q cabinet ministers had handed over their resignations to their party leadership on Tuesday over reservations with the PPP government. Shujaat Hussain apprised President Zardari of the reservations of his party members, one of which was that despite being a coalition partner, PML-Q was not receiving proper treatment.

Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi also accompanied Shujaat Hussain during the meeting in which it was decided that the PML-Q would remain in the PPP-led coalition government in Centre. They told President Zardari that none of the commitments made to the PML-Q at the time of its joining the coalition were fulfilled by the PPP. President Zardari reassured the two leaders that their reservations would be removed.

Shujaat said his party would remain in the alliance with PPP and would also contest the next general elections with the party. PML-Q's ministers and advisers had handed over their resignations to the party president, authorising him to make a final decision about breaking from the coalition after meeting President Zardari, but analysts construed the move as a bargaining chip to extract maximum benefit from the PPP-led government.


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