KARACHI - President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday said that the PPP (Pakistan People’s Party) and the MQM (Muttahida Qaumi Movement) were allies and will contest the general elections together.

He was chairing a meeting of the PPP and MQM core committees at Bilawal House. The meeting discussed the coalition matters, local bodies’ elections and law and order situation in the province. President Zardari assured the MQM leaders that their concerns would be addressed.

Zardari, who is also the co-chairman of the PPP, underlined the need for the two coalition partners to work hand in hand for peace in the province, especially in Karachi, and strengthening of the political process. He said that PPP believes in the policy of reconciliation and taking along all its allies in all matters of national importance.

Sources said that MQM expressed its concern over the PPP’s office bearers’ remarks against the MQM. PPP Karachi chapter president Abdul Qadir Patel had recently made remarks against Muttahida regarding the recent spate of killings in Karachi. On Sunday, Zardari directed his party representatives not to make any statements against coalition partners.

The MQM leadership is set to meet the PML-N (Pakistan Muslim league-Nawaz) on Tuesday at Punjab House Islamabad. The first official meeting of two rival parties is an important political breakthrough in present political scenario. Sources said Dr Farooq Sattar will lead the MQM delegation in that meeting.

Zardari said that certain elements were creating unrest to harm the PPP-led alliance. He said that the fragile law and order situation in Karachi demanded all the political forces to work together for ensuring peace in the metropolis and bringing the culprits to book.

He said that ensuring law and order and the protection to the lives and property of the citizens was a priority of their government. Zardari said strict action should be taken against those who were destroying peace in Karachi and no comprise shall be made in this regard.

The meeting also discussed various other issues including the local government system for Sindh. Sources said that MQM leadership demanded immediate election of local bodies. Zardari expressed the hope that the two parties would soon be able to finalise their deliberations in order to carry forward the democratic process and for conducting the local bodies elections in the province.

In Sunday’s meeting, Zardari had also directed the PPP core committee to ensure that local body polls are held before the parliamentary elections, in a bid to end the deadlock with the key coalition partner. Sources said that Zardari asked the committee to focus on the legal aspects of local bodies rather than politicising the issue and creating a possible confrontation with the coalition partners.

The Monday’s meeting of PPP and MQM leaders was attended by Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan, Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, Dr Asim Hussain, Dr Farooq Sattar, Senator Babar Khan Ghouri, Pir Mazharul Haq, Ayaz Soomro, Agha Siraj Durrani, Rafique Engineer, Rashid Hussain Rabbani, Abdul Qadir Patel, Sagheer Ahmed, Kanwar Naveed and Raza Haroon.