Govt seeks allies’ help to amend Army Act

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Shafaqna Pakistan: A high-level delegation of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf led by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Sunday met central leaders of Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P), its coalition partner, at their secretariat to discuss the current political situation, the upcoming local government election, Karachi and Hyderabad development package announced by the federal government, and, most importantly, the latter’s scheduled meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan on December 5.

However, sources from both parties told The News that Sunday’s meeting with the MQM-P leadership was part of the federal government’s efforts to secure its allies’ support in amending the Army Act to seek three-year extension for Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Qureshi is also likely to meet leaders of the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), a Sindh-level opposition alliance and an ally of the federal government from the Sindh province today (Monday).

The Qureshi-led PTI delegation comprised Governor Sindh Imran Ismail and the opposition leader in Sindh Assembly Firdous Shamim Naqvi while prominent among MQM-P delegation were party convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Federal Law Minister Dr Farough Naseem, Aamir Khan, Nasreen Jalil, Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar and Aminul Haque.

After the meeting, federal ministers Qureshi and Siddiqui addressed a press conference, where leaders of both parties termed the meeting very fruitful and vowed to support each other.

Qureshi said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had invited the MQM-P and other allied parties (such as GDA) on December 05, for a session. “Today’s meeting can be called a preparatory sitting for our next meeting of December 05, so as to make the next session result-oriented,” said the foreign minister.

“The input that I received was quite informative and I am better informed on the situation in Karachi and Sindh,” he said. Qureshi said that the voters of Karachi are sensible and they understand the challenges that are being confronted by the federal government.

MQM-P leader Siddiqui thanked the foreign minister and the PTI delegation for coming to Karachi and meeting with the party leaders and said that the MQM-P’s policy on national issues was very clear. “We have always extended our unconditional support and will continue to do so.” He was hopeful that the party’s next meeting with PM Khan in Islamabad will yield results.

However, the MQM leader said that Sindh, especially its urban centers, had been suffering from economic terrorism for the past 11 years. “The government is working on those, but the pace is so slow that on many fronts it does not seem any work is being done,” he complained. “Sindh’s cities, especially Karachi and Hyderabad, are in urgent need of intensive care, of immediate help, morally, politically, and legally,” he said.

Siddiqui said that Sindh’s only request has been that due attention be given to the province and its cities immediately. He said that having witnessed the problems faced by Sindh’s cities over the past 30-35 years, certain demands had been made by the party.

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