PMLN-MQM row may harm democratic system: Zardari to Sharif

The top leaderships of MQM and PML-N are engaged in an unseemly public spat.

Islamabad: Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has advised main opposition PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif against prolonging his confrontation with MQM, an ally of the ruling PPP, saying it could harm the country`s democratic system.

During a telephone call with Sharif late last night, Zardari said the political confrontation could affect the democratic system, the `Dawn` newspaper quoted unnamed PPP sources as saying.

Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar confirmed the call and told the media: "President Zardari called Nawaz Sharif and discussed the current political situation in the country."

Zardari has been camping in Karachi, the stronghold of the MQM, in a bid to remove irritants that have emerged in the relationship between the party and the ruling Pakistan People`s Party (PPP).

The MQM recently withdrew its two ministers from the PPP-led government, saying Zardari`s PPP had been treating it unfairly.

At the same time, the top leadership of the MQM and the main opposition PML-N have engaged in an unseemly public spat.

Both parties have launched scathing attacks on each other`s leaders and TV news channels have been forced to censor some of the language used in the war of words.

Sources said that Zardari had established contacts with MQM and PML-N leaders to calm tempers across the board in a bid to ease pressure on the PPP-led coalition at the centre.

Before speaking to Sharif, Zardari called London-based MQM chief Altaf Hussain on Wednesday night and assured him that the PPP would soon address his party`s grievances.

Zardari also reportedly told Hussain that the rift between the MQM and PML-N should be resolved soon.

Zardari had urged the chiefs of the MQM and PML-N to stop their leaders from issuing derogatory statements against each other.

The war of words between the MQM and PML-N took an ugly turn on Wednesday when PML-N leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Haider Abbas Rizvi and Waseem Ahmed of the MQM used abusive language while speaking to the media about the ongoing spat.

Presidential spokesman Babar also said Zardari had met PPP leaders in Sindh last night and discussed the party`s relations with the MQM.

Zardari barred PPP leaders from issuing provocative statements against the MQM.

Relations between the PPP and MQM hit a low after Sindh Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza, who is close to Zardari, accused the MQM of being behind a spate of ethnic killings in Karachi.

The MQM plays a key role in propping up the PPP-led governments at the centre and in Sindh province.


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