Support for budget difficult if extortion not curbed: MQM


ISLAMABAD – The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) warned the government on Sunday that if rising incidents of extortion in Karachi and increases in the price of petroleum products every month were not stopped, it would be extremely difficult for the MQM to support the government in the upcoming budget, a source privy to the meeting between a MQM delegation and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) ministers told Pakistan Today.
The MQM delegation comprising MQM Deputy Convener Farooq Sattar, Waseem Akhtar and National Assembly Member Khanzada Abdul Qadir met Finance Minister Hafeez Shaikh and Interior Minister Rehman Malik. The source said the delegation told the ministers that the MQM was facing immense pressure from the people and it would be extremely difficult for the party to support the government in getting the upcoming budget passed by parliament if the government did not take concrete steps against extortionists in the city and did not review the recent increase in the prices of petroleum products.
The source also said that the finance minister told the MQM delegation that a meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Petroleum Pricing Formula was being held on April 5 to make a decision on a reduction in petroleum prices. The MQM had supported the strike of traders against rising incidents of extortion and the party’s Coordination Committee had also taken up the issue with the government.
Shaikh said after the meeting that the government could review the increase in petroleum prices after taking into consideration all political parties’ views. Malik asked all political parties to act against any criminals who took refuge under their umbrella. He said law enforcement agencies had arrested 30 criminals for their involvement in targeted killings and extortion and had begun an operation against criminals in Karachi.
Qadir said that the MQM had warned the government that if rising incidents of extortion in Karachi were not stopped, businesses in the city would shift overseas and cause a huge loss to the country’s economy. He said extortionists were at large in the city and no law enforcement agency had taken action against them.