Wednesday, April 02, 2008

PPP and MQM Decide to forgive and Forget: Unprecedented Development in Pakistani Politics

PPP, MQM decide to forgive and forget By Fasahat Mohiuddin
The News, April 3, 2008
Zardari visits Nine Zero after 20 years; Altaf describes Qaim Ali Shah as ‘Sindh CM’, calls for foiling conspiracies; committee formed to discuss political changes, future line of action

KARACHI: The PPP and MQM leaders announced that they were willing to forgive and forget the ill-will of the past and start anew to foster peace and democracy in Sindh and Pakistan.

In a stirring address outside MQM headquarters Nine-Zero, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, after being accorded a rousing welcome earlier, promised a brighter future for the coming generations of the province and the nation. Prior to Zardari’s speech, Altaf Hussain, in his address, said that the two parties had started a new journey together.

Zardari, along with a high-powered delegation, visited Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) headquarters, Nine Zero, in Karachi, on Wednesday to hold talks with the latter’s leadership. As a result of the talks, the parties have reportedly formed an eight-member committee, four members from each side, to discuss the political changes and future line of action.

While the meeting between the top brass of Sindh’s two largest parties rekindled the chances of the formation of a coalition government in the province, there was no hint of it by either party’s leader after emerging from the meeting.

However, after the closed door meeting, Altaf, addressing the crowd by telephone, in an interesting insinuation, addressed Qaim Ali Shah, the PPP candidate for chief minister, as the “Chief Minister of Sindh” despite the fact that the election to this effect was to be held next week. This was a clear hint as to what direction the talks had taken.

Altaf and Zardari spoke for at least 15 minutes over the telephone in the closed-door meeting. The atmosphere after the two parties’ leaders emerged from the meeting was electric, which was accentuated after Zardari and Altaf both promised a stronger friendship between the two parties.

Altaf asked for a one-minute silence to honour the sacrifices of the late PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto, after which he prayed for the departed soul. Altaf said that the two parties have started a new journey together, adding that in the past, conspiracies had been hatched to pit the MQM and the PPP against one another. However, he said, their coming together would foil all conspiracies.

He also gave special thanks to Rehman Malik for his efforts to bring the PPP and the MQM together. The urban-rural divide in Sindh, said Altaf, will come to an end for the prosperity of the province and the nation.

He also said that he had requested Zardari to allow the MQM to visit Garhi Khuda Bakhsh on April 4, the death anniversary of PPP founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, to offer Fateha at his tomb, as well as the grave of Benazir Bhutto. Throughout the speech, Altaf referred to Zardari as “Asif Bhai.”

Zardari also presented Dr Farooq Sattar with a Sindhi cap, personally placing it on his head, after which the latter gifted an Ajrak to the PPP co-chairman. Zardari, speaking to the crowd once Altaf had finished his address, started off with the slogan ìJeay Altaf Hussain.î He said that the PPP had forgiven the MQM and that they wanted the MQM to forgive them for all that happened in the past. There is no bitterness with each other today, said the PPP co-chairman.

In addition, he said that the MQM and the PPP will also forgive those who have made the two fight in the past, adding that their revenge will be to change the system so that democracy and peace will prevail for the years to come.

Zardari said Benazir feared for Pakistan and that he was there at Nine-Zero to complete the late-chairpersonís mission of reconciliation and the triumph of democracy. He said that the onus was on the political forces of today, such as the MQM and the PPP to make sure that Pakistan was a prosperous nation for the sake of Bilawal, Bakhtawar, Asfia (Benazir and Zardariís children) and Hafsa (Altafís daughter).

Pakistan, said Zardari, finds itself in a crisis today, but, he added, the PPP-MQM friendship will take the country out of this crisis together. The speeches of the two were marked with a number of slogans by the supporters of both parties, including ìAsif-Altaf, Bhai Bhaiî ìJeay Altaf Hussainî and ìBhutto Zinda Haiî

Zardari left Nine-Zero at a quarter past midnight. Zardari arrived in Karachi at 8.20 p.m. on Wednesday, and was received at the Jinnah International Airport by Governor, Sindh, Dr Ishratul Ebad. Zardari first visited the Yasinabad graveyard (Shuhada Qabristan) to offer Fateha. His car was showered with rose petals all the way from Mukka Chowk up to Nine-Zero, where he finally arrived at about 10 p.m., amidst tight security, to a huge reception, by a large crowd carrying both PPP and MQM flags.

There was heavy security at the site and a brief jostle broke out between the PPP and MQM security teams as to who would accompany the leaders inside the premises where the meeting was to be held. The PPPís own security, which accompanied the partyís leadership, was called ëBilawal House Securityí and was wearing black shirts. The security team consisted of 40 men in total and headed by Bilal Shiekh.. The MQM security was wearing shirts reading ëHumara KarachiÖ MQM security.í

The media was not allowed inside. The reason behind this, as announced by MQMís Haider Abbas Rizvi and Faisal Sabzwari, was for ìsecurity reasons.î The high-powered PPP delegation, which was headed by Zardari, also included Dr Zulfikar Mirza, Murad Ali Shah, Qaim Ali Shah, Pir Mazharul Haq, Rehman Malik, N.D. Khan, Nabil Gabol and Fauzia Wahab. They met the MQM team headed by Dr Farooq Sattar and comprised Sheikh Liaquat Hussain, Abdul Rasheed, Anwar Alam, Babar Ghauri, Adil Siddiqui, Ashfaq Mangi and Sardar Ahmed.

The last high-level meeting between the two parties took place 20 years ago, back on November 21, 1988, after which the MQM and the PPP entered into a coalition government at the Centre. The government lasted only a little more than 11 months.

Previously, on February 28, right after the 2008 general elections, a PPP team headed by Qaim Ali Shah had visited Nine-Zero. However, that meeting bore no fruit, and, in fact, it compelled the PPP leadership to accuse the MQM of not according it (PPP) a proper welcome and not sending its top leaders to the meeting.

A Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid delegation that visited Nine Zero a few days later was accorded a rousing reception, more so than that given to the PPP. It also involved the MQMís top leadership, which further fuelled the misgivings between Sindhís two largest parties. The PML-Q, which was a coalition partner of the MQM in the previous government and suffered a heavy defeat in the elections, was represented by its President, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain.

However, on March 21, in an unexpected move, Zardari called the MQM chief Altaf Hussain in London and requested him to withdraw their prime ministerial candidate, Dr Farooq Sattar, in favour of the PPPís Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani. The MQM obliged, maintaining that it did so unconditionally and that it did not want to be part of the coalition government in exchange.

While the move fuelled speculations that the formation of a government was on the cards as a result of the move, the MQMís consistent denial that it wanted a part in the ruling coalition coupled with the continuous reservations expressed by the PPPís allies, the PML-Nawaz and the ANP, clouded any such forecasts.


The Lost Pakistani Dream said...

Altaf Bhai aur Asif Bhai- Chor Ka Bhai Girah Cut.
Check out the cartoon.
Lets hope for better.
BTW:Happy Birthday Hasan

Anonymous said...

Berner Zeitung (Bern Swiss)
Donnerstag 3. April 2008
Alte Garde vor neuen Aufgaben
Die starken Männer hinter Pakistans neuer Regierung haben einen höchst zweifelhaften Ruf
Pakistans Präsident Musharraf hat gestern die neue Regierung unter Premierminister Yusuf Raza Gilani vereidigt. Eines ihrer wichtigsten Ziele ist es, die Machtbefugnisse des Präsidenten einzuschränken. Doch noch sitzt Musharraf fest im Sattel.
Seit Monaten sagen Auguren den Sturz des pakistanischen Präsidenten Pervez Musharraf voraus. Doch er ist immer noch da, und das hat triftige Gründe: Musharraf ist sehr viel schlauer und raffinierter, als gemeinhin angenommen wird. Zwar kann er sich nicht mehr blind auf das Militär verlassen, aber noch immer geniesst er das Vertrauen und die Unterstützung Washingtons. Und ausserdem sind die beiden Regierungsparteien, die Bhutto-Partei PPP und die Muslim-Liga von Nawaz Sharif, über sein Schicksal noch uneins.

Wer die Probleme Pakistans jedoch allein auf den Präsidenten reduziert, irrt. Die Zukunft des Landes entscheidet sich nicht an seiner Person, sondern daran, ob es den Regierungsparteien jetzt gelingt, die Probleme des Landes zu lösen. Nach fast neun Jahren Militärherrschaft ist der südasiatische Atomstaat jetzt in die Demokratie aufgebrochen – und die Hoffnungen vieler Wähler auf einen Wandel sind gross.

Die neue Regierungskoalition muss ihren Reifetest erst noch bestehen. Sie setzt sich zusammen aus einer Garde von Alt-Politikern, deren Leumund zweifelhaft ist. Nawaz Sharif, dessen Muslim-Liga mit neun Ministern in der Regierung vertreten ist, trieb Pakistan in den Neunzigerjahren fast in den Bankrott. Sein Verhältnis zu Presse und Justiz war nicht weniger problematisch als das von Musharraf.

Noch übler ist der Ruf von Asif Ali Zardari, dem Witwer der ermordeten Benazir Bhutto und Chef der PPP, die elf Regierungsmitglieder stellt. Zardari ist der wahre Machthaber hinter dem neuen Regierungschef Yusuf Raza Gilani. «In jeder Folge des Films ,Der Pate‘ könnte er mühelos eine Rolle übernehmen», spottete die pakistanische Zeitung «Dawn» einmal über ihn.

Die Politiker müssen nun zeigen, dass sie das Land regieren können und nicht nur ihre eigenen Pfründe im Auge haben. In der Hauptstadt Islamabad wird bereits wild spekuliert, wie lange die Koalition hält und ob sich Sharif mit der Rolle des Junior-Partners von Zardari begnügt. Unter diesem Aspekt ist durchaus verständlich, dass Washington Musharraf nicht einfach fallen lässt. Immerhin hat sich der General in der Vergangenheit als vergleichsweise zuverlässiger Verbündeter erwiesen.

Die dringlichste Aufgabe Pakistans ist es, den Extremismus einzudämmen. Neben der ermordeten Benazir Bhutto war Musharraf der Einzige, der den Mut hatte, den Terroristen offen den Kampf anzusagen. Aber er konnte sie immer weniger unter Kontrolle halten.

Die Sorgen der kleinen Leute

Die überwältigende Mehrheit der Pakistaner ist gegen Bomben und Extremismus. Aber viele betrachten den Anti-Terror-Kampf inzwischen als einen Kampf, den Musharraf und die Armee gegen ihre eigenen Landsleute führen – im Auftrag der USA. Das oft arrogante Auftreten Washingtons hat diesen Eindruck noch verstärkt.

So ist einiges zu tun: Die neue Regierung muss versuchen, die politischen und sozialen Kräfte hinter dem Kampf gegen den Extremismus zu sammeln. Dazu muss sie auch die grossen Sorgen der kleinen Leute wie Armut, explodierende Preise und Strom- und Wassermangel ernst nehmen. Förderlich wäre zudem, wenn die USA mehr im Hintergrund agierten und die Pakistaner nicht wie unmündige Vasallen behandelten. Und Islamabad und Washington müssen gemeinsam nach neuen Strategien gegen den Terror suchen, die über militärische Massnahmen hinausgehen.

Anonymous said...

Abhi tou Asif Bhai aur Altaf Bhai eek dusere ko Sindhi Topiyan Pehna rahe neen.
Baad me Quam ko topiyaan pehnayye gey.