Differences rear their head in MQM-P over census reservations

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KARACHI: Some Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leaders presented their resignations and refused to go to the assembly unless their reservations about the digital census are addressed, The News reported.

However, differences have emerged among the party leaders over the issue of staying or leaving the coalition government due to their grievances over the digital census.

The meeting of the party leaders, chaired by convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, was attended by senior deputy conveners Syed Mustafa Kamal, Dr Farooq Sattar and Nasreen Jalil as well as deputy conveners Anis Kaimkhani, Abdul Waseem and others.

The party issued two contradictory statements following a key session. As per the sources, various leaders of the party expressed serious reservations about the census.

They were of the view that the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) were gaining political strength over the issue of the census, while the MQM-P, being a coalition partner, was finding it hard to build its narrative on the census with the elections were round the corner.

The initial statement issued by the party said the Coordination Committee discussed political and economic affairs of the country, census and other important issues.

The party had approached various forums for rectification of the census process but they were not heard, the statement read. It did not mention the submission of resignations by some MNAs to the party chief. It added that the party would soon announce its future course of action regarding the census and share it with the media.

Later, the party issued another statement and quoted Mustafa Kamal as saying that no discussion on the current political situation had taken place in the meeting. The party’s senior deputy convener, however, confirmed that some MNAs have submitted their resignations to the party chief and refused to go to the assembly unless the federal government and the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) address the party’s reservations on the census.

In addition, the statement also quoted Kamal as saying that the party was still a part of the federal government and it would stand alongside its coalition partners in all difficult times. The MQM-P leader also appreciated Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, saying that they had assured the MQM-P leaders that their concerns regarding the census would be addressed.

When The News approached Dr Sattar and inquired about the issuance of two contradictory statements by the party, he said the MQM-P was not leaving the government. He added that two to three MNAs of the party themselves offered to submit resignations to the party head. He said those MNAs told the party chief that he could send their resignations to the speaker any time he wanted.

Dr Sattar also confirmed that the party had reservations over the census, as the population in Karachi was not correctly counted. He added that the party had already said on several occasions that the census was a red line for it.

Meanwhile, Convener Maqbool and PM Shehbaz also discussed the current situation in Pakistan during a phone call.

The MQM-P leader also informed the premier about the party’s reservations about the digital headcount. The PM assured him to remove their grievances regarding the issue.

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