Mirza’s exit a bid to appease the MQM?


ISLAMABAD – The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)’s decision to pull out Sindh Home Minister Dr Zulfiqar Mirza from the provincial cabinet is being seen as a political move to normalise its working relationship with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in the province and in the centre at a time when a showdown between the party and the judiciary is expected next week in a number of high-profile cases pending in the Supreme Court.
The decision to pull out Mirza had been taken in January when the MQM had parted ways with the federal government and its ministers had also resigned from the federal cabinet as tensions escalated between the two coalition partners. Pakistan Today had reported on January 21 that Mirza might be appointed federal minister.
Mirza, a close confidante of President Asif Ali Zardari, has been a source of contention between the two parties since the PPP came to power, primarily for publicly accusing the MQM of being involved in targeted killings in Karachi.
The MQM has reportedly been demanding the government sack Mirza or the party will pull out of the Sindh government as well.
Speculation in the federal capital had been rife since January that the government had in principle decided to appease the MQM by removing the contentious home minister. Mirza is expected to take oath as a federal minister in the second phase of the cabinet extension. It was also speculated that Mirza would be elected to a Senate seat vacated by PPP Senator Khatumal Jeewan.
MQM Spokesman Wasay Jalil refused to comment on the situation, saying it was an internal matter of the PPP and Mirza’s removal had never been the MQM’s demand.