KARACHI: Former Karachi mayor Mustafa Kamal managed to rope Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) heavyweight Raza Haroon into his yet-unnamed party on Monday.
"We are focused on the work we intend to do. Name, planning and branding come later," Haroon said, referring to the party Kamal and Anis Kaimkhani announced earlier this month. Kamal said the party would be named on March 23.
Following earlier MQM accusations that their workers' loyalties are being 'forcibly changed', the former IT minister slammed Altaf Hussain, saying the MQM chief was reason enough for party members to jump ship.
Haroon pointed out that whenever a dissident left the party, "they [the MQM] claim it is a conspiracy against them. No conspiracy is needed. You [Altaf] are more than enough."
The former MPA lamented the condition of the MQM, saying what used to be a party of literate people had now become a source of embarrassment.
'Minus one happening from within'
Referring to MQM supremo Altaf Hussain's alleged intoxication while addressing supporters, he said, "Sometimes we had happy hour... Then that happy hour became happy 24 hours."
"Happy hour" was followed by apologies from the entire community and party, he said. "Happy hour has been increasing... Pay attention to what time it is in London."
He termed the Lahore High Court (LHC) ban on MQM supremo Altaf Hussain's speeches and image a "blessing in disguise" and was of the opinion that "the ban should stay in place".
If the establishment were to remove the ban on Altaf, "Minus one" [MQM without Altaf] would happen from within. "There is no need for conspiracy," he said.
"Your marketing is enough for self-destruction of the party."
He claimed that MQM leaders were happy about the ban on their party leader's speeches and did not visit the court to repeal the ban.
"The MQM was not made to worship one person or ensure the satisfaction of one person... What MQM representative has not said the things I am saying today?" he asked.
'Label of RAW agents'
"United Nations and Nato forces are invited to Pakistan. Even RAW is called to come to Pakistan. When are you coming to Pakistan yourself?" he asked, apparently addressing Altaf Hussain.
The patriotic Mohajir community has ended up being labelled "RAW agents", he said.
"It's been one year since the BBC issued RAW-funding allegations against the party and its leadership but the party has yet to approach courts over these allegations."
He said it was the duty of institutions to examine accusations against the MQM. Anis Kaimkhani, while addressing the press conference, said they had not given any documents or evidence for the investigation.
Know more: FIA asks Kamal to help confirm MQM-RAW links
'They are doing the right thing'
Haroon lauded the former MQM members Kamal and Kaimkhani for their no-holds barred March 3 press conference.
"The courage required to take such a step, we saw on March 3 in the guise of Mustafa Kamal and Anis Kaimkhani. I was watching the press conference on TV in London and thought, 'They are doing the right thing'. Everyone watching is thinking the same thing... Everyone is tired of this."
"I did not enter the MQM on a whim, and I did not leave on a whim," Haroon said. "Did the creation of MQM end the quota system?" he asked.
Haroon returned to Karachi earlier today just weeks after Kamal's arrival ─ and a no-holds barred press conference in which the former nazim decimated MQM supremo Altaf Hussain, accusing him of deception, addressing workers while intoxicated and poor running of the MQM.
Kamal also announced a new party, which has yet to be named, and said the party will hold its first rally at Bagh-i-Jinnah.
Since his first press conference, Kamal has pulled former MQM members Anis Kaimkhani, Dr Sagheer, Iftikhar Alam and Waseem Aftab into his party.
In a press conference on Sunday, MQM leader Dr Farooq Sattar accused the Rangers of torturing and interrogating "40 under-trial prisoners" belonging to the MQM imprisoned at Karachi Central Jail, and "pressuring the workers to leave the party".
He alleged the workers were being forced to fill out a pro forma and told that they would be given every facility in the prison, cases against them would be withdrawn and they would be released only if they changed their loyalty.
Following Sattar's statements, Kamal also addressed a press conference, saying that those who are in prison for having indulged in crimes at the behest of the MQM should be given a way out.
"They may have committed crimes but we must look at who turned them into criminals," he said.
Explore: Waseem Akhtar: The party man
Who is Raza Haroon?
Born in October 1965 to a middle-class family, Raza Haroon did his BCom from Karachi University and BSc in computers from a foreign private university in Karachi.
He joined the MQM in 1987 and, like many other members of his party, faced a great deal of hardship during the state-sponsored operation in the 1990s.
He moved to London in 1994 and, in addition to doing private jobs, worked at the MQM international secretariat. He lived in London for 13 years and returned to Karachi in 2007.
Haroon was elected a Sindh Assembly MPA in 2008 from PS-115 and was appointed provincial IT minister in 2009.
He did not contest the 2013 general election and left Karachi, purportedly for London. However, news reports claim Haroon landed in Karachi from Dubai.