Govt starts contacting allies for Army Act amendment | Pakistan Today

Govt starts contacting allies for Army Act amendment

–PM Imran to hold meeting with MQM, other parties on December 5 amid blunt remarks from Opp lawmakers

–FM Qureshi says economic situation has improved and the premier wants to focus on well-being of people

–Siddiqui says Sindh has suffered a lot in past 11 years and now the people want govt to give them their due share

KARACHI: In a bid to secure legislation that would extend army chief General Qamar Javed’s tenure beyond Supreme Court-sanctioned six months, the government has started reaching out to its allies as well as opposition parties to gain support for an amendment in the Army Act.

The development comes a day after the opposition leaders claimed that the government was not serious about legislating on General Bajwa’s term extension, evident from its attitude over the past few days.

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had said that the government has failed to pass any legislation in the past one and a half year, therefore, it would not able to pass this one either, whereas Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Ahsan Iqbal had said that government was trying to offend the opposition to prevent the legislation from being passed.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had said that a “fake parliament” could not legislate on the army chief’s term extension.

It seems that the PTI has realised that these statements don’t bode well for the PTI government and has stepped up contacts with allies to gain their confidence.

In its first step, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) senior leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Sunday called on Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leadership and announced that a meeting in this regard has been scheduled in the federal capital on December 5.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi addressed a joint press conference with Information Technology Minister and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui in Karachi after the meeting.

Qureshi started off the presser by thanking MQM-P, a party allied with the government, for standing by the ruling party in difficult times and for extending its cooperation in various situations.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan took charge when the country was facing internal economic challenges and we are all aware of that,” he said, adding that the in those difficult times, the premier approached friendly countries for assistance to avoid economic bankruptcy and scored a negotiated deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The foreign minister said that that the country’s economy is stable and the currency has gone up by Rs4-5 against the dollar due to foreign investments. “Economic indicators point towards the fact that we have stepped out of a crisis,” he said, adding that now the next big challenge was to convert this stability into economic growth so that the government can meet the expectations of the people that brought it to power.

He said that voters are well aware of the difficulties the government had to face and are aware of the role played by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and MQM-P to tackle challenges in Sindh. “Voters across the country are well-informed and Karachi is one of the most politically mature cities because when the people of the metropolis are presented with the facts, they are wise and can sift the truth from false narratives,” he added.

Qureshi said that the government and its key ally have reviewed the situation and come to a similar conclusion, whether it is the national scenario, economic scenario or the local government situation.

He said that it is because of these facts that the prime minister has invited its allies and opposition parties to hold a meeting with him in December. “We discussed this today and received an educational input, therefore, we have decided that our talks in December can help us make more informed decisions which are beneficial for our people,” he added.

Addressing the media, Siddiqui appreciated the foreign minister’s visit to Karachi and his willingness to hold a meeting with party members.

He said that MQM-P’s policy on national issues is clear and the party has always extended unconditional support in this regard. “MQM-P will always extend its support to democratic governments. We will not only continue our journey of cooperation but will now quicken its pace,” he added.

Talking about the situation in Karachi, the IT minister said that various cities of Sindh have been facing economic terrorism for the past 11 years and are in dire need of immediate moral, political and legal support. “Sindh’s cities, especially Karachi, have sacrificed more than their obligations and the metropolis’ contribution alone in the sales tax is 89 per cent,” he said, adding that these numbers show how willing Sindh is to fulfill its responsibilities towards the country.

“Karachi provides sustenance for the entire country. The government should focus on running Karachi so that the country’s economy can run too since the metropolis is the economy’s engine,” he further said.

The IT minister said even though the government faced multiple challenges in the start, the economy has been stabilised. He said that the only request of the people of province is that they be given due attention and the party’s demands are in line with the problems it has witnessed in the past 30-35 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 added.

Earlier in the day, a high-level delegation of the PTI comprising FM Qureshi and Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, visited the headquarters of coalition partner, MQM-P. The current overall political situation, local government election, Karachi and Hyderabad development package announced by federal government were discussed in the meeting.

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