LONDON: President Asif Ali Zardari and the MQM Chief Altaf Hussain held detailed talks here Sunday evening on the internal situation in Pakistan, a discussion Hussain later described as ‘very positive and meaningful’.
The meeting between the two leaders lasted well over four hours at a Central London hotel. The President was assisted at the talks by Dr.Asim Hussain, Petroleum and Energy Minister, Federal Interior Minister Rahman Malik and Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK Wajid Shamsul Hasan while Altaf Hussain was accompanied by the members of the London-based MQM Rabita Committee.
The two leaders also held one on one meeting. The MQM Chief told waiting media that they deliberated upon various issues confronting the country and the steps that are required to prevent the spread of Talibanisation. ‘The increase in Talibanisation is a process to destabilise and disintegrate the country and we are determined to prevent such a disaster by all means,” said the MQM leader.
Hussain said the President told him that the Federal Government was taking all measures in this regard and the law enforcing agencies backed by the Army was battling the militants and extremists. He said issues relating to Baluchistan also came under discussion and the importance of bringing all stake holders on board was emphasised.
Under February’s peace deal, the government agreed to impose Islamic law in the districts that make up the Malakand Division in hopes that the militants would lay down their arms. But the Taliban in Swat did not do so and entered the adjacent Buner district to impose their harsh brand of Islam. He further said the President expressed his optimism that they would eventually succeed in turning back scourge of Talibanisation.
Hussain also mentioned that the President agreed that all political parties irrespective of their ideology and philosophy must sink their differences and unite against the dangers confronting the country.
Rahman Malik who was also present at the briefing said the President acknowledged and valued the support of the MQM both at the Centre and in Sindh. The Minister said the President explained that Nizam-e-Adl was introduced in Swat in order to give peace a chance and on the condition that the Taliban would lay down their arms.
Malik said the Islamic law was brought into force on the request of the NWFP Government to bring about peace and restore normalcy. However, the Interior Minister said despite giving commitment to the Government that they surrender their arms once the Nizam-e-Adl was promulgated , the Taliban went back on their promise forcing the authorities to swing into action and take lower Dir and Buner.
Altaf Hussain went on to say that in his discussion with the President, it was agreed on the importance of preserving democracy in Pakistan because the country’s salvation was tied to it. “We all agreed that political as well as religious parties even though they may have serious differences with the Government or the MQM must not taken any steps that would derail democracy.”
Answering a question of the drones attack, the MQM leader said the President has assured him that he would take up this question with the US leadership on his upcoming visit to America. Regarding the issues facing Karachi, Altaf Hussain said the President told him that on his return from the US tour, he would discuss the matter in detail with the Sindh Administration and taken decisions after consulting all the stakeholders.
He appealed to PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif to support all the good decisions of the Government to strengthen democracy and stability in the country. Malik said the MQM leader also appreciated the role of President Zardari in making the Friends of Democratic Pakistan Group realise that the south Asian country was their important ally in war of terror and they must provide all support and assistance to his country. -APP