After Supreme Court’s judgment on the extension of the army chief’s tenure for another six months, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led federal government is seeking support from its allies and opposition parties for amendments in the Army Act to enable the extension for the next three years. PTI’s leadership has started contacting allies in Sindh and Balochistan and has begun holding meetings with its coalition partners in the federal government.
Coalition partners from Sindh and Balochistan have many complaints and grievances from their provinces to convey to Prime Minister Imran Khan and the federal cabinet. The PTI leadership is facing several serious challenges in this regard, as many of their issues have been not resolved by the federal government.
The Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) in Sindh and the Balochistan National Party (BNP-Mengal) in Balochistan seem annoyed with the federal government’s policies towards smaller provinces.
A delegation of the PTI led by Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, Leader of Opposition in Sindh Assembly Firdous Shamim Naqvi, Haleem Adil Sheikh and others, visited Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan’s (MQM-P) temporary office in Bahadurabad in Karachi recently.
Coalition partners from Sindh and Balochistan have many complaints and grievances from their provinces to convey to Prime Minister Imran Khan
The PTI leadership met with Federal Minister for Information Technology and MQM-P Chief Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Federal Law Minister Dr Farough Naseem, MQM-P’s senior deputy convener Aamir Khan, senior deputy convener Nasreen Jalil, members of Coordination Committee Aminul Haq, Rauf Siddiqui, Mayor of Karachi Waseem Akhtar, Khawaja Izhar-ul-Hasan, Kishwar Zehra and discussed the current political situation and proposed amendments in the Army Act.
MQM-P head Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui expressed concerns over the perceived negligence of urban Sindh’s issues by the PTI government. Maqbool said, “We have supported the PTI government unconditionally but unfortunately government has neglected our reservations.”
He said, “We support the democratic system and state institutions for stability of Pakistan. MQM will stand with the PTI if the federal government needs any support in legislation on the Army Act,” Siddiqui added.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi assured coalition partners that the federal government would resolve issues of urban Sindh and address their reservations.
Talking to The Friday Times, MQM-P member in the National Assembly Aminul Haq said, “Prime Minister Imran Khan recently called a meeting of allies in the PM House to discuss the current political situation. The GDA, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), MQM-P and other allies attended this meeting.”
Aminul Haq said the Supreme Court had released a short judgment on the extension. “MQM-P is waiting for the detailed judgment by Supreme Court so that work can be done to enable the extension for another next three years,” he said.
He said MQM-P would decide and announce its final course of action once the detailed judgement was made available.
The GDA chief Pir Sibgatullah Rashidi – also known as Pir Pagara – has expressed concerns over several policies of the PTI government. Pagara said the federal government under Prime Minister Imran Khan’s leadership had ignored the GDA’s issues in Sindh.
Senior politician and GDA member Dr Safdar Abbasi told The Friday Times that “military should not be made a controversial institution. If we look to the past for lessons, we will see that military dictators themselves derailed the democratic system and extended their tenures by imposing martial law in the country,” he said.
“The Supreme Court has given six months to the Parliament for legislation on Army Act,” said Abbasi. “The GDA is annoyed with the PTI leadership and we are waiting for Supreme Court’s detailed judgment to announce our strategy. The PTI is well aware about our reservations and we are waiting for their response on our issues,” he said.
A senior PTI leader in Sindh told The Friday Times that PM Imran Khan had constituted a coordination committee to contact allies for their support. Jahangir Tareen, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Qasim Suri and Arbab Shahzad have been given the task by the federal government to contact with PTI’s coalition partners as well as opposition parties for legislation in the Army Act, he said.
MQM-P and PML-Q have already given a green signal for their support but the GDA has not responded yet, he said. He added that the federal government’s coordination committee will hold a meeting with BNP chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal next week.
Despite reservations by allies, the federal government seems ready to address their genuine concerns in Sindh, especially by expediting cases against the PPP leadership in the province.
The writer is a journalist based in Karachi