Siddiqui nixes Govt offer to retract resignation

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Asad Umar fails to convince MQM-P’s leadership for rejoining Says Govt is committed to improve Karachi’s infrastructure MQM vows support to Govt without ministry

From Zeeshan Mirza
KARACHI: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leaders on Monday failed to convince MuttahidaQaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) Convener Khalid MaqboolSiddiqui to reconsider his decision to leave the federal cabinet. Talking to media after meeting the MQM-P leadership, federal minister Asad Umar said that “it is our wish that Khalid MaqboolSiddiqui remains a part of the cabinet, however, he is not ready to take back his decision.” Umar said that a joint strategy has been formed “to move forward for Karachi’s betterment”, as he told MQM-P that “it is better that both the parties work jointly.” He said that Karachi’s mega projects would be completed soon and Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit the metropolis for their inauguration. The former finance minister assured MQM-O that the federal government is committed to improve Karachi’s infrastructure, for which a special package was announced. “There are two major problems of Karachi: clean drinking water and transport,” he explained. “Work is underway on K-IV and a technical committee of Sindh is reviewing the report prepared by NESPAK, after which the centre will release the committed funds for its completion.” The MQM-P on Sunday gave the PTI government in the centre a jolt as Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui announced his decision to leave the federal cabinet over “unfulfilled promises”. However, the MQM-P’s key leaders told The News that the party’s recent move was a part of pressurising the federal government to give it another ministry because, the party believes, FaroghNaseem, Minister for Law and Justice, has been solely working on the behalf of federal government and helping them as a competent lawyer, instead of working as a representative of the MQM-P in the federal cabinet. Following the bombshell announcement, Prime Minister Imran Khan tasked PTI’s Karachi leaders to meet the MQM-P leaders and address their grievances. PTI delegation headed by Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar and comprising Opposition Leader in Sindh Assembly KhurramSherZaman and FirdousShamimNaqvi reached the MQM office in Bahaduarabad earlier today. According to sources, Khalid Maqbool was extremely unhappy with his ministry due to continuous intervention of Tania Aidrus, who is leading Digital Pakistan initiative. The close sources of Khalid MaqboolSidiqui said that he felt stranger in his ministry while Tania Aidrus had started holding meetings with prime minister and heads of other institutions directly and besides it she also issued directions to those institutions which are responsible for running the affairs of the ministry and Federal Secretary Shoaib Siddiqui complained several times in this regard. MQM-P leader Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui said on Monday that there was “nothing sensational” in his press conference from a day ago, when he announced his surprise resignation as federal minister for information technology. Speaking to the press alongside Planning Minister Asad Umar after meeting a delegation of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in Karachi, Siddiqui reiterated that his party would remain an ally of the government. Both Umar and Siddiqui told reporters that today’s meeting was pre-planned, rubbishing rumours that the latter was retrieving his resignation. “There was nothing sensational in yesterday’s press conference,” Siddiqui said. “We promised to support the government with our numbers and we will continue to do that. “All we said was that to stay in the federal cabinet seems futile now […] We remember all the promises we made and we have already fulfilled them.” Federal Minister for Planning, Development, Reforms and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, while responding to a question regarding Siddiqui’s resignation, said that there will be a discussion on the “wish expressed by Khalid bhai”. “Sometimes, a person feels that there is nothing wrong with not being part of the cabinet. I, too, have spent seven months outside the cabinet and I can understand his (Siddiqui’s) wish. But we would want Khalid bhai to stay a part of the cabinet and we will hold talks on that. “We need to give the residents of Karachi the rights that they have been denied for decades, sadly and this is our mutual struggle,” Umar added. Umar said multiple development projects had been initiated in Karachi and revealed that Prime Minister Imran Khan would arrive in the city early next month to inaugurate a few projects. Earlier, a PTI delegation led by Asad Umar arrived at MQM-P’s temporary headquarters in Bahadurabad. Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Firdous Shamim Naqvi and MPA Khurram Sher Zaman were also part of the government delegation.