KARACHI: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) on Sunday decided to quit Prime Minister Imran Khan’s cabinet, but the party chief, Dr. Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, said that his faction would continue to support the federal government.
“It’s becoming increasingly difficult for me to justify my presence in the cabinet,” Siddiqui told a news conference at his party’s temporarily office in Bahadurabad.
The permanent MQM-P base, known as Nine-Zero in Azizabad, was sealed by the authorities after a controversial speech by the party founder, Altaf Hussain, in August 2016.
“We promised to help [the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party] with the formation of government at the center. We kept our side of the bargain, but there has been no progress on our demands from the other end,” Siddiqui said.
“We reached two agreements with the ruling PTI party, one in Bani Gala [at Prime Minister Khan’s residence] and the other in Bahadurabad in Jahangir Tareen’s presence,” he continued, adding: “We supported the government during its hardships, but it continues to do injustice with our urban centers.”
“The lack of seriousness on these matters has left us with no choice,” he said.
Dr. Siddiqui informed that the MQM-P’s coordination committee had held deliberations on Friday and concluded that it was useless for him to retain the ministerial position.
“None of this has to do with the offer we received from the Pakistan Peoples Party,” he said while referring to a statement by the PPP chairman, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, who offered the MQM-P ministries in Sindh if it parted ways with the PTI.
Talking to Arab News, a prominent MQM-P leader said that his party’s senator, Farogh Nasim, would still remain the law minister.
“We only had one member in the cabinet, Dr. Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui who worked as the Minister for Information Technology. Farogh Naseem got a portfolio from the PTI. It was not our party’s demand,” Faisal Subzwari said.
He reiterated that his party would sit on the treasury benches. “We have quit the cabinet, not the government,” said the MQM-P leader.
Asked if the MQM-P would review its decision on getting a positive response from the government on its demands, he said it was too soon to say anything.
Commenting on the development, a Karachi-based analyst, Fazil Jamili, said that the MQM-P could be doing it to secure better political offers from the government, though he added it could also be a step toward an in-house change in parliament.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan’s administration can be changed if it loses a coalition partner,” he said. “The government is not performing well, particularly in the economic realm, and the coming months will make it more clear. If things don’t get better, there can be an in-house change.”
Mubashir Zaidi, another political analyst, said the development may not be a precursor for change. “The MQM-P has always been in the position to bargain, and it has been doing such announcements to extract political mileage in the past as well. I don’t think there’s anything more to the recent development than that,” he maintained.
Meanwhile, PTI leader Shamim Naqvi held a news conference in Karachi and said that his party was in contact with the MQM-P.
“We will visit Dr. Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and convince him to review his decision,” Naqvi said.