Zardari invites MMA become part of coalition

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Islamabad, Feb 29 (UNI) The Pakistan People's Party, which has emerged as the largest parliamentary group in the National Assembly in the February 18 elections, has formally invited a fractured Islamist alliance, Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal(MMA) to become part of the proposed national consensus national consensus.

The invitation was extended by PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari during a meeting with the pro-Taliban Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman here last evening.

Mr Zardari was accompanied by party vice-president Makhdoom Amin Fahim, and senior leaders Raza Rabbani, Yusuf Raza Gillani, Syed Khurshid Shah, Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Farhatullah Babar.

Maulana Mohammad Khan Sherani, Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, former NWFP chief minister Akram Durrani and Senator Talha Mehmood assisted Maulana Fazl in the talks.

Dawn newspaper quoted PPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar as saying that another round of talks between the PPP and the MMA would be held soon. The Jamaat-i-Islami-less MMA won only seven seats in the National Assembly.

Talking briefly to reporters after the meeting, a visibly-happy Maulana Fazl said the two sides had agreed that the country needed political unity and a government of national consensus.

He said the MMA had presented to the PPP leaders its list of priorities and the two sides would hold further negotiations in the next few days.

He said the MMA wanted to see parliament's sovereignty, rule of the Constitution, end of dictatorship and elimination of army's role in politics.

Mr Zardari said his party had previously worked with Maulana Fazl and expressed the hope that they would be able to work together in future as well. He said the nation would soon hear good news about the formation of a national consensus government.

The PPP leadership had in the past called the MMA a ''Mullah Military Alliance'' and held them responsible for the breaking away of a joint opposition in the previous assembly.

They had also accused the MMA of strengthening President Musharraf's hold on power by providing indemnity to his unconstitutional acts through the controversial 17th Amendment.

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