KARACHI: In a no holds barred attack on his party’s former coalition partners, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain on Friday evening said if their demands are unacceptable to the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) then Urdu speaking Sindhis should be given a separate province.
Speaking to the party workers in Hyderabad in the wake of upcoming local government polls, he demanded equal rights for Urdu and Sindhi speaking population of Sindh.
He also threatened that the demand of a separate province can quickly turn into a demand of a separate country for Urdu speakers of Sindh.
Severally criticizing the provincial government regarding new delimitations before the LG elections, the MQM chief alleged that the PPP wants to keep away from the polls.
“Torch bearers of democracy had never been able to hold local government elections,” Hussain said sarcastically in an obvious reference to the PPP.
Awarding a legal victory to the MQM, the Sindh High Court (SHC) on Dec 30 ruled all amendments made to the Local Government Ordinance unconstitutional, paving way for the polls to be conducted under previous delimitations.
Altaf Hussain said his party would not tolerate tactics of force in politics and alleged that the PPP was involved in discriminating against the Urdu speaking population.
The Sindh government wants to push half of the province’s population into the Arabian Sea.
Despite having an equal representation in Sindh, Urdu speakers are subjected to discrimination, he said.
Urdu speakers will outnumber Sindhi speakers if fresh census is held under the United Nations today.
Meanwhile, PPP’s patron-in-chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in his latest tweet confronted Hussain by saying “Marsoon Marsoon, Sindh na Ddaisun (We will die but won't give Sindh [to others]).
Reacting to the comment, Hussain advised Bilawal to behave like a ‘nephew’ if he pretends to be one. He suggested that the issues should be resolved on a negotiating table rather than on social-networking platforms, demanding an equal share for the urban population of the province in the government.
“I want to tell Bilawal that the demand for Sindh's division can be withdrawn if they sit on the table with us and make an agreement for 50-50 per cent power sharing in the government,” he said.
The MQM chief also demanded stopping the trial of former military ruler General (retd) Pervez Musharraf in isolation and expressed the need for putting to trial all the military men, judges and parliamentarians who validated the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO).
Emphasizing the importance of an empowered local government system, he decried the subsequent democratic governments in Pakistan for denying local governance to the people.
“The LG system is like a primary education for the politicians before they step up to study and become a part of the secondary and higher education at the provincial and federal levels.”
All the martial laws from Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan, Ziaul Haq and Pervez Musharraf nurtured these primary nurseries be strengthening the local government systems,” he said.
The statement of MQM chief drew strong reactions from various political leaders condemning the proposed division between urban and rural Sindh.
Ayaz Paleejo of Qaumi Awami Movement – a Sindhi nationalist party demanded of the MQM chief to withdraw his statement, announcing to stage protest demonstrations on Monday.
PPP leader Sharjeel Memon condemned the statement of MQM chief saying no one will be allowed to divide Sindh.
Syed Khurshid Shah, a senior leader of the PPP, said Altaf Hussain was like a king, who could say anything to anyone.
Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Arif Alvi said Altaf Hussain should refrain from issuing such statements.
Zahid Khan of Awami National Party (ANP) said that his party had always been against division of Sindh.
Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) chief Syed Munawar Hassan declared the statement a conspiracy to divide the country besides fanning anarchy.