Durrani plays down MMA MP’s ‘goodwill gesture’
By Iqbal Khattak
PESHAWAR: Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal MPA Akhtar Nawaz’s vote of confidence for President Pervez Musharraf on Thursday was the shock of the day for the religious alliance in the NWFP Assembly.
Mr Nawaz called his vote a “goodwill gesture for Musharraf from the MMA”.
“So what if I voted for Musharraf? Didn’t the MMA indirectly support him?” he asked. The MMA MPA said the provincial assembly’s quorum would have been deficient had the MMA not attended. NWFP Chief Minister Akram Khan Durrani played down the violation of the MMA stance that its parliamentarians would not participate in the voting.
“Mr Nawaz didn’t contest elections on the MMA symbol. He joined the late Shah Ahmed Noornai’s Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan after the elections. Let me check if he filled the MMA membership form or not,” Mr Durrani said.
Lawmakers of the Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians, Awami National Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz staged a boycott of the NWFP Assembly session to caste a vote of confidence.
“If we hadn’t boycotted the session, it would have amounted to our accepting the illegal process of giving a vote of confidence to Musharraf,” PML–N Parliamentary Leader Anwar Kamal Khan told reporters after the president bagged 30 of the 124 votes in the NWFP Assembly. “Look, Musharraf got less than one-fourth of the total votes of the assembly. Is this not a vote of no-confidence?” Mr Khan said. ANP Leader Bashir Bilour accused the MMA of “facilitating” the vote.
Talking to journalists after the session, he asked what the MMA had achieved by striking a deal with the government except legitimising Mr Musharraf.
NWFP Chief Minister Akram Khan Durrani said “whatever the MMA did” was part of the deal the religious alliance had made with the federal government. “We simply honoured our commitment,” he reacted to the opposition charges. “Don’t paint the MMA-government deal on the LFO as our weakness. It doesn’t mean that whatever we did today was an acceptance of General Musharraf’s policies,” he told reporters in the speaker’s chamber.
Mr Bilour and Mr Kamal brushed aside Joint Opposition Leader Shahzada Gustasip Khan voting for Musharraf. “He (Gustasip) came to us and said he will vote for the general,” Mr Bilour added. However, the ANP leader said Gustasip’s vote for Musharraf did not endanger the joint opposition’s future in the NWFP Assembly. Earlier, PPPP MPA Abdul Akbar Khan led the charge for the opposition when he objected to the Peshawar High Court chief justice chairing the assembly session.