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Dr Farooq Sattar

April 29, 2013

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Dr Farooq Sattar, born in 1959, is the deputy convenor of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and has also been its parliamentary leader.

His association with MQM goes back a long way — APMSO (All Pakistan Muhajir Students Organisation) was formed in 1978, and Sattar became its member as early as 1979. The APMSO was the student body which served as the precursor to MQM.

After graduating from Sindh Medical College in 1986, he remained actively involved with MQM and has not looked back since.

At the age of 28 in 1987, he was elected the mayor of Karachi — reportedly becoming the youngest mayor in the world.

Also since 1988, Sattar has consistently been part of either the National Assembly or the Sindh Assembly. He won a seat in the NA in the 1988, 1990 and 1997 election from Karachi and won in 2008 from NA-249 (Karachi – XI).

In 1993, MQM boycotted the National Assembly polls with Sattar returning from a provincial assembly seat instead. After securing the seat, he was appointed leader of the opposition in the Sindh Assembly. In 1997, Sattar gave up his National Assembly for a provincial seat — he was then appointed minister for local government.

In 2002, Sattar won a by-election on the NA-255 seat, which had been previously won by a candidate of Muttahida’s arch-nemesis Mohajir Qaumi Movement (MQM-Haqiqi). And while Sattar won the 2008 election from NA-249, allegations of foul play were made by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

Sattar was also arrested on two occasions: In 1994, during Benazir Bhutto’s tenure as prime minister, when massive crackdowns took place against MQM (he was released in 1997) and then again in 1999, when he surrendered to the authorities over corruption charges levelled against him soon after Pervez Musharraf established military rule. He was released in 2001.

The MQM heavyweight has not only served as mayor, MNA, and provincial minister, he has also been the chairman of the National Assembly’s foreign affairs committee and held the post of federal minister for overseas Pakistanis from 2008-2013. He also maintained the position of MQM Deputy Convener of the party’s central coordination committee.

In line with party policy, Sattar has spoken out strongly against the imprisonment of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, feudalism and militancy, activities of MQM’s opposing Awami National Party in Karachi as well as the Election Commission of Pakistan’s decision for delimitation of a number of constituencies in the country’s financial capital.

— Research and text by Heba Islam