KARACHI: Two relatively less known figures of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement joined the new but still unnamed party of former Karachi nazim Mustafa Kamal on Thursday.

With the joining of MPA Iftikhar Alam and former coordination committee member Waseem Aftab, who lashed out at the party’s London-based chief Altaf Hussain, the number of MQM dissidents has risen to five, including Mr Kamal, Anis Kaimkhani and Dr Sagheer Ahmed.

Mr Alam, who was elected member of the Sindh Assembly from PS-106 constituency that covers parts of Liaquatabad and Federal B Area, including MQM’s Azizabad headquarters, also announced his resignation from the provincial legislature at a press conference held at the DHA headquarters of the new party.

Although Rangers had accused the Karachi Tanzeemi Committee (KTC) as well as sectors and units in-charges of the MQM of organising a militant wing, Mr Kamal proudly introduced Mr Aftab and Mr Alam as former KTC head and ‘sector in-charge’ of Federal B area, respectively.

Mr Aftab has been practically inactive in the MQM for over two years. He was among over two dozen leaders who were removed from the coordination committee and sidelined by the MQM chief in May 2013 in a ‘cleansing exercise’ to purge the party of those involved in ‘china-cutting, extortion’, etc.

Similarly, Mr Alam, a former union nazim who was given party ticket in the May 2013 general election on the recommendations of Mr Kaimkhani, was removed from the post of sector in-charge after Aamir Khan took control of the party.

At the press conference, Mr Aftab and Mr Alam criticised the way Mr Hussain was leading the MQM. They said they feared for their lives and families and, therefore, did not come forward, but now after the position taken by Mr Kamal and Mr Kaimkhani they decided to stand up against Mr Hussain.

Mr Aftab said the allegations against Mr Hussain having links with Indian intelligence agency RAW were based on facts, but these would be impossible to prove. He urged those who were afraid of leaving the MQM to overcome the fear and join the struggle.

“He [Altaf] considers his workers as tissue paper ... he needs them when he needs bodies,” Mr Aftab said, adding somewhat rhetorically: “What else do you want from this community? For God’s sake, have some mercy on this nation.”

He said the establishment would accept the Urdu-speaking people only when they proved that they had no connections with RAW. He appealed to the establishment to embrace those ‘misguided’ people who did not know that their leader had sold them out.

Iftikhar Alam said he did not see any love for Pakistan in the MQM. Although he was an MPA, he said, he was sure that Mr Hussain did not know even his name. “The whole MQM revolves around Altaf Hussain,” he said, adding: “He is the most selfish and egoistic man.”

No plan to contest by-polls

In reply to a question, Mustafa Kamal said his party had no intention to contest any by-elections scheduled to be held in the next two to three months.

“However, we will give a message to the people of those areas [where by-elections are to be held] when the time comes,” he said in a veiled reference to a possibility that he might support any party against the MQM.

Taking a swipe at the MQM’s cleanliness drive in the city, he said it was because of the stand taken by them that “someone got the idea of cleanliness after a period of 10 years”.

He again refused to furnish any evidence about Mr Hussain’s links with RAW at any forum and said it was the duty of the state to take action on the basis of the evidence it already had.

MQM sees establishment’s role

Meanwhile, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement accused ‘some people’ in the establishment of forcing its lawmakers to change their loyalties.

“Some recent developments are part of this plan,” said a statement by the MQM coordination committee without commenting on the press conference by MPA Iftikhar Alam.

It said the lawmakers were being pressurised that they would be implicated in false cases. Likewise, those workers languishing in jails were also asked to switch sides if they wanted their release. It said the establishment could “buy a few people” but not crush the MQM.

Published in Dawn, March 11th, 2016

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