The Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQMP) on Tuesday announced an intent to collaborate in the upcoming general elections—though the exact nature of this alliance remains unclear.
A day earlier, PMLN President Shehbaz Sharif had invited the MQMP leadership to Lahore for a meeting with Nawaz Sharif. On Tuesday, a MQMP delegation led by Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and comprising Farooq Sattar and Mustafa Kamal reached the PMLN’s party secretariat and met Nawaz and other PMLN leader, with both parties agreeing to work together in Sindh to counter the PPP.
Addressing media after the meeting, senior PMLN leader Khawaja Saad Rafique announced both parties would jointly contest the Feb. 8, 2024 polls. “Both parties have agreed to adopt a joint strategy to bring the people of Pakistan out of the current crises and to put Pakistan back on the path of development,” he said. To a question on how this would impact the PMLN’s ties with the PPP—the MQMP’s arch-rival—he said the parties had a longstanding history and he did not wish to respond to their verbal tirades.
According to a PMLN statement issued after the meeting, it would setup a six-member committee with the MQMP to prepare a comprehensive charter to address the problems of Sindh province, especially its urban areas. “The committee will present final proposals for cooperation between the two parties to the leadership within 10 days,” it added.
But while the PMLN appeared to indicate an electoral alliance, the MQMP has clarified that the plans discussed called for a “seat adjustment.” According to Sattar, the meeting’s primary purpose was to foster a national consensus to guide the country through its prevailing crises. Stressing that the prevailing crises were too immense for any single party to correct, he told media it was necessary to achieve a broader understanding and cooperation. Referring to Karachi, he said the Sindh capital generated 60 percent of the country’s revenue. “National consensus has to be reached for the solution of all the problems in Karachi,” he said.
Similarly, Kamal said it was a political, moral, and constitutional responsibility to understand the issues of the country so a “strong leadership” could reverse course. “IMF cannot take Pakistan out of crises, but Karachi can,” he maintained. Insisting that the PMLN-MQMP alliance was not motivated by any power-sharing arrangement, he claimed its sole purpose was the national interest.
Claiming the MQMP had revived its political fortunes, he said it should return to the positions it had held in 2013, when they secured a maximum number of seats from Sindh. He also lauded Nawaz Sharif as the most seasoned politician in Pakistan.
In the press conference, the PMLN also announced the appointment of retired bureaucrat Bashir Memon as its new Sindh president. Memon subsequently told media the party would form a coalition with likeminded parties in Sindh.