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MQM’s return buoys up Gilani govt

Saturday, January 8, 2011

KARACHI: The beleaguered government of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Friday received a lifeline when the estranged ally Muttahida Qaumi Movement agreed to return to the coalition though it refused to allow its parliamentarians to rejoin the cabinet.

The concession — which restores Premier Gilani’s slender majority in the 342-member National Assembly — is thought to be the handiwork of President Asif Ali Zardari, who flew to Lahore to meet the grieving family members of slain Punjab governor Salman Taseer only when behind-the-scene talks ended what was viewed as a make-or-break political crisis.

The crunch talks saw Prime Minister Gilani making his first-ever visit to the MQM headquarters, popularly known as Nine Zero, speaking to Muttahida chief Altaf Hussain for half an hour over phone and be at pains to please his censorious ally.

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