FORMER nazim of Karachi Syed Mustafa Kamal breaks down and weeps while addressing a press conference here on Thursday. Anis Kaim khani is also seen. —Fahim Siddiqi/White Star
FORMER nazim of Karachi Syed Mustafa Kamal breaks down and weeps while addressing a press conference here on Thursday. Anis Kaim khani is also seen. —Fahim Siddiqi/White Star

KARACHI: Heaping scorn on Muttahida Qaumi Movement supremo Altaf Hussain, former Karachi nazim Syed Mustafa Kamal ended on Thursday his decades-long association with the MQM to launch a new political party which he claimed did not enjoy the blessing of the establishment.

Mr Kamal and a former deputy convener of the MQM, Anis Kaimkhani, made the announcement during a press conference at a Defence Housing Society house hours after their early morning return to the country from Dubai. The two had been staying there since mid-2013 after quietly parting ways with the party.

The duo’s press conference was reminiscent of the split that hit the MQM in the 1990s and led to the formation of a new faction — MQM-Haqiqi — by dissidents Afaq Ahmed and Amir Khan. They had accused the MQM leadership of being anti-state.

The surprise return of Mr Kamal and Mr Kaimkhani, an absconder in a terrorism-related case and against whom a non-bailable warrant has already been issued, their attack on the leadership of Mr Hussain and an open invitation to their former colleagues to join the new unnamed party lent credence to rumours that the establishment still pinned its hopes on the so-called minus-Altaf formula.

The former Karachi nazim accuses Altaf Hussain of having links with RAW, the Indian intelligence agency

However, Mr Kamal was at pains to dispel the impression that his return was a result of some deal with the establishment. “We are not like them ... they came on army trucks ... we two could not have sat here like this if we had their [the establishment’s] blessing,” he said when asked if they had any exit plan if the establishment abandoned them the way it had left Amir Khan and Afaq Ahmed high and dry.

The former nazim quickly intervened when a reporter asked Mr Kaimkhani why he decided to return when he was wanted by police. “Anis Bhai is not on any wanted list. We are here if anyone wants to talk or investigate,” he said.

In reply to an observation that Mr Kaimkhani was ‘in charge’ of the alleged militant wing of the MQM when he was at the helm of affairs until May 2013, Mr Kamal said the militant wing was being run from abroad, and not from Karachi.

In his over two-hour press conference telecast live, Mr Kamal, who was handpicked by Altaf Hussain as Karachi nazim in 2005, alleged that the MQM chief had received funding from Indian intelligence agency RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) for 20 years, was involved in the assassination of Dr Imran Farooq in London, running teams of hit-men from South Africa and India, destroying generation after generation, accumulating immense wealth and properties in Britain, the United States and the United Arab Emi­rates and running the party in an “inebriated condition”.

RAW LINKS: Mustafa Kamal said he and Mr Kaimkhani had come to know about MQM’s connection with RAW in 2010 when a party meeting was called in Dubai, where senior leaders, including Mohammad Anwar and Tariq Mir, along with then interior minister Rehman Malik of the PPP, were briefed on the findings of British investigators in the light of documents recovered from Dr Imran Farooq’s home that the MQM was funded by the Indian intelligence agency.

“Everyone knows that Altaf Sahib has links with RAW. Rehman Malik also knows everything, but it is possible that he did not inform his leadership about this,” Mr Kamal said, dropping his practice of referring to the MQM chief as ‘Altaf Bhai’ or ‘Quaid-i-Tehreek’.

“From 2008 to 2013, we tried to set things right, but finally concluded that he [Altaf Hussain] was incurable,” he said, adding that he feared for his life and went abroad with his family for safety, but finally he decided to return home on the call of his conscience and for the fear of Almighty Allah.

He burst into tears while talking about Dr Imran Farooq’s murderers and said MQM workers were not aware of the true situation that Altaf Hussain was receiving Indian funds.

“The Pakistani establishment is treating every MQM worker as an agent of RAW,” an emotionally charged Mustafa Kamal said. “I ask the establishment and the government not to hate Urdu-speaking people and consider them RAW agents only because of the deeds of Altaf Hussain. They were misguided ... help us in bringing them back to national mainstream.”

Explaining the basic features of his unnamed party, Mr Kamal, who completed his term as Karachi nazim in 2010, was elected senator from Sindh in 2011 and resigned in April 2014, said it would struggle for a presidential form of government because it would immediately eliminate 80 per cent corruption.

He stressed the need for a national urban plan and a strong and empowered local government system. The party favoured creation of more provinces in the country on administrative lines.

“We are here to stay,” was his reply when asked about their future course of action.

Published in Dawn, March 4th, 2016