- MQM-P shares concerns over census with ministers.
- Ministers acknowledge party’s reservations.
- Govt delegation agrees to resolve irregularities identified.
KARACHI/ISLAMABAD: The federal government Wednesday agreed to address the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s (MQM-P) reservations over the ongoing digital census — the seventh in the country’s history — after reports surfaced that the party had asked its lawmakers to hand in their resignations.
According to MQM-P spokesperson, all aspects of the census were reviewed in a meeting held between the party and the government’s delegation during which the former’s delegation also presented findings of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).
The government’s delegation, the spokesperson said, acknowledged MQM-P’s concerns following the review. They also agreed to resolve the issues and stop the irregularities identified in the ongoing census.
The delegation — headed by the party’s Convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui — that held a meeting with the ministers in Islamabad included Syed Mustafa Kamal, Farooq Sattar, Syed Amin Ul Haque and Javed Haneef.
The government’s delegation comprised Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Railway Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique and Chief Commissioner for census Dr Naeem Uz Zafar.
The News reported that cracks have appeared in the ranks of MQM-P leaders over the issue of staying or leaving the coalition government amid reservations on the digital census.
As such, the party has issued two contradictory statements following a key session of its Coordination Committee. According to informed sources, various leaders of the party expressed serious reservations about the census.
They were of the view that the Jamaat-e-Islami and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf were gaining political strength over the issue of census, while the MQM-P, being a coalition partner, was finding it hard to build its narrative on the census while the elections were round the corner.
During the meeting, some lawmakers also presented their resignations to Dr Siddiqui, who chaired the meeting, which was attended by senior deputy conveners Kamal, Dr Sattar and Nasreen Jalil as well as deputy conveners Anis Kaimkhani, Abdul Waseem and others.
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.
However, the statement did not mention the submission of resignations by some members of the National Assembly 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 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 had submitted their resignations to the party chief and refused to go to the assembly unless the federal government and 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.
When The News approached Dr Sattar and inquired about the issuance of two contradictory statements by the party, he said the party was not leaving the government.
He added that two to three lawmakers 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.
Sources told Geo News Tuesday that the MQM-P had sought resignations from its members of national and provincial assemblies and the Senate due to its reservations over the procedure of the census in Karachi and Hyderabad.