PPP, MQM: Too near, yet too far
Lack of trust has been holding them back from reaching a settlement. MQM wants a guarantor to oversee the execution of any future agreement or formula for cooperation to ensure that the cat-and-mouse game being played since 2008, now ends. This has been the crux of the whole issue. As far as negotiations between them are concerned, there is nothing mysterious or secret about it. They moved logically and in right mood from both sides.
Of course it took time to arrive at certain, meaningful conclusions but the parleys proceeded in an atmosphere of congeniality and passions were kept aside. The fact that these were done through a cool and composed Ishratul Ebad, showed that everything was proper and moving in right direction.
MQM’s demand to end the system of commissioners, and deputy commissioners in Karachi and Hyderabad was resolved, but then hardly had the ink dried on the local bodies amendment ordinance signed by the Sindh governor to give a legal shape to it, opposition began to build up from all sides—from within and without the PPP. The Awami National Party and many more launched a vituperative campaign against it.
Forced by growing hostility and rebellion within the PPP itself, Zardari ,showing tremendous maturity and large heartedness—extended clauses of the Ordinance to entire Sindh, but ANP, claiming themselves to be followers of Ghaffar Khan and a poor men’s party began to cry at the top of their voice for ending the 1979 local bodies in Sindh. They totally forgot that in doing so they wittingly or unwittingly trampling the principles of provincial autonomy— a demand they had been voicing since long. This was total dichotomy but ANP preferred to overlook the broad principles of devolution of authority to search for smaller interests in Sindh.
Expectations grew that reconciliation would soon be seen. Alas, this was not to be. Once bitten, twice shy, held the MQM back to demand one or more guarantors. It is ready to rely on outside powers and those influential elements within the country who helped bring back Dr Ishratul Ebad from short but purposeful exile in Dubai.
Soon after quitting the governorship, the office he had held for almost 9 years, he left for Dubai only to avert a constitutional crisis in the country. His presence here, with his resignation still not accepted, would have given birth to a comical situation. The President could not force him to continue against the will of his party, neither can he appoint an acting governor. Ebad had acted wisely and in the best interests of the country.He had saved the President and the country from a crisis. Even those who had helped him bring back to his position of authority, have been active lately. USA, UK and the European Union plus the authoritative forces in the country, who were keen to see the stalemate end for peace to return to Karachi, are reluctant now to be guarantors as well. MQM has written to them that agreements done in the past had not worked to the satisfaction of MQM and in fact had held back its ministers and parliamentarians from performing their legitimate duties.
Still the question of powesr to district governmenta in Karachi and Hyderabad, hangs in balance. Powers to MQM ministers, and their not being dependent for finances to manage the welfare projects in their areas or constituencies, is another hith. MQM ministers do not wish to be at the mercy of the PPP chief minister or the finance minister for the release of money which is their legal right. Of course the procedure has to be followed.
Foreign powers are mainly interested in saving Karachi for their huge investments. Nothing unnatural. They need to protect their interests, but being guarantors to oversee the execution of the PPP-MQM reconciliation or cooperation formula, is something which they wont like to be an unwanted burden on them.
In the meantime a systematic campaign seems to be on for destroying the image of the MQM. A couple of articles have appeared in main newspapers, painting in MQM in fascist colours. Cell phone sms are being run to portray the MQM in the mould of the 80s.
Then there have been unsubstantiated stories maligning the party or directly attacking its chief. Is all this being done as a calculated attempt by organized groups or elements or these are just kite flying to keep the PPP and MQM apart? That is the important question now which needs a correct, dispassionate answer.