Call roundtable on Pakistani political scenario: Altaf

Karachi, Sep 17 (IANS) Altaf Hussain, whose Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) is aligned to Pakistan’s ruling coalition but who lives in exile in London, has called for a meeting of all political, religious, ethnic and linguistic parties and groups to discuss ways of meeting the challenges confronting the country.

Addressing party workers from London, the MQM leader said the worsening law and order situation in different parts of the country required all parties and groups to sit together with the president or the prime minister to solve the problems threatening the solidarity and integrity of Pakistan.

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Hussain spoke on the telephone and his address was relayed in Karachi and 20 other cities and towns of Sindh.

Regretting that some religious and political parties were fighting one another and ignoring the crisis confronting the country, he maintained that the MQM believed in non-violence and rejected all kinds of terrorism.

“There is no place in the MQM for any kind of terrorists and elements who take the law in their own hands,” he was quoted as saying by Dawn Monday.

The MQM is a coalition partner in the federal and Sindh governments and also rules Karachi and other cities in the province. Though Hussain cannot return home as he faces a variety of charges, he has the ability to draw massive crowds whenever he addresses his supporters over the telephone – which he does quite often.

Hussain also directed the MQM coordination committee to desist from issuing statements against any party or leader or against bar associations.

This directive was perhaps prompted by the violence in Karachi in May that claimed over 40 lives. The violence had erupted at a rally demanding the reinstatement of sacked Pakistan Chief Justice Ifthikar Mohammad Chaudhry, whom President Pervez Musharraf had removed on corruption charges.

The Supreme Court had reinstated Chaudhry after a prolonged legal battle.

The violence had led cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf (PTI) party to file a case in London against Hussain, labelling him a “terrorist”.

The Sindh government has banned Khan from entering the province.

Hussain also called upon the countries and organisations providing financial assistance to Pakistan to link their aid to the abolition of the feudal system in the country.

According to Hussain, the MQM wanted to bring an end to the rural-urban divide. He added that people of all ethnic and linguistic groups and minorities enjoyed equal rights in his party.