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Sunday, December 5, 2010

MQM took back NRO support on US, UK pressure

KARACHI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) took back its support of government for National Reconciliation Ordinance on pressure from the US and Britain, according to a cable leaked by WikiLeaks.

According to the US State Department cables, Interior Minister Rehman Malik suspected that the “establishment” was out to get President Asif Zardari and that the MQM was being influenced by the US and the UK.

In a meeting held on November 9, 2009, Malik claimed to then US ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson that the MQM had repeatedly stated that both the US and the UK had urged the party to oppose the NRO, a move that led the government to withdraw the legislation from parliamentary consideration and placed the future of Zardari at risk.

Malik requested that the US issue a public statement in support of Pakistani democracy, suggesting such a statement would be useful in protecting President Zardari from military-induced pressure to leave office.

In addition, it would help dispel persistent charges from the MQM that the US and the United Kingdom had urged it to withdraw support for the NRO, thereby placing Zardari at risk. Malik assessed that Saudi Arabia and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) were cooperating with the military and MQM to bring down President Zardari.

Despite these charges, Malik was optimistic that the Supreme Court would not strip Zardari of his presidential immunity and suggested that even if it did, the government would simply cease prosecution of Zardari’s cases, thereby allowing him to continue to hold office.

The document says Malik met on November 9 with Ambassador Patterson to provide a read-out of his meetings with senior officials of the MQM in Dubai.

Throughout the meeting, Malik was clearly nervous that the US was distancing itself both from him and President Zardari. Malik claimed that during the course of his Dubai meetings, the MQM had repeatedly stated that both the United States and the United Kingdom had urged the party to oppose NRO.

Malik claimed that the MQM stated it had received this message during the Sindh Governor’s recent trip to the United States and that Altaf Hussain had been approached by the British government in London.

Ambassador strongly denied these allegations, stating that the US had not had any such discussions with the Sindh Governor.

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