KARACHI: Senior Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Farooq Sattar for the first time has said that his party should operate from Pakistan alone, an apparent reference to the leadership of MQM under Altaf Hussain who controls the party from London.
While speaking at Karachi Press Club on Tuesday, Sattar accepted that “there is a problem” and that Hussain’s frequent apologies after incendiary statements is an issue that needs to be resolved. The press conference was held a day after protesters, alleged to be MQM workers, attacked the office of ARY News.
“The MQM should operate from Pakistan alone,” Sattar said.
Sattar made another dramatic statement about disassociating himself from the party in London, saying he has categorically said that all the decisions will be made by party members in Pakistan, “what else do I need to say to elaborate the minus-one formula more”.
Sattar on distancing himself from Altaf Hussain
- "Altaf Hussain’s frequent apologies after incendiary statements is an issue that needs to be resolved"
- "All the decisions will be made by party members in Pakistan"
- "If statements [by Altaf Hussain] are a result of mental stress, then that mental stress needs to be resolved first"
- "Such statements push MQM into confinement"
- "The entire party is being ridiculed due to such statements by Altaf Hussain"
- "Until this issue [of Altaf Hussain] is addressed, we've decided that sanity should prevail"
Referring to Hussain’s apology statement issued earlier today, Sattar said: "If such statements are a result of mental stress, then that mental stress needs to be resolved first. It would be better for MQM to operate from Pakistan until Altaf Hussain's health issues are resolved, as such statements push MQM into confinement.
“Altaf Hussain and the entire party are being ridiculed due to these statements."
"Whatever the reason given for these statements, it keeps happening and it is important to address this issue as well," he admitted.
"We own that there is a problem, and Altaf Hussain keeps asking for forgiveness. Until this issue is addressed, we've decided that sanity should prevail," Sattar said.
When questioned about whether the MQM supremo would continue to use the party platform for speeches, Sattar said: "We cannot provide any more clarity on this. It is the MQM's policy from day one to condemn violence and torture."
Also read: What did Altaf say in his diatribe?
Dr Amir Liaquat who was also taken into Rangers custody Monday spoke to journalists saying, "We cannot take the weight of statements that pose a question regarding the sacrifices we have made for Pakistan."
Sattar condems attack on media
Sattar also denounced anti-Pakistan slogans chanted during an attack on ARY News' Karachi office a day earlier.
"Every MQM worker, leader, voter and well-wisher denounces these anti-Pakistan slogans," Sattar said. "We will not allow this to happen again."
"We totally disassociate ourselves from the violence that took place in Karachi yesterday. It is totally against our policy to use violence to achieve our ends."
"There is no room for any militants or any militants' wing."
"We were not expecting that the situation [attack on ARY News] would unfold in such a manner. Certain things were said that shouldn't have been said," Sattar said. "Anti-Pakistan slogans should not have been chanted."
"I would like to categorically state that MQM is Pakistan. The MQM is registered in Pakistan and recognises the laws and Constitution of Pakistan."
"We were with our friends, the Rangers, for eight hours... It should be clear that we are not speaking under the influence of anyone else... Everything I say is in line with MQM's policy."
"Our offices should be allowed to reopen," Sattar said.
The press conference was held at KPC instead of MQM headquarters Nine Zero, which were sealed by the Rangers Monday night.
Speaking to local TV channels before the press conference, Sattar said, "We will take the MQM's mission forward and continue to empower citizens... I will hold the press conference I was unable to hold yesterday today."
MQM leaders Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Shaikh Salahuddin, Nighat Shakeel, Waqar Hussain, Muhammad Hussain, Asif Hussain, Saman Jafri and Dr Fouzia were also present at KPC.
According to local media reports, Sattar stopped off at a local hotel prior to the press conference to meet MQM lawmakers including Arshad Vohra and Nasreen Jalil.
Amir Liaquat parts ways from MQM
MQM leader Dr Amir Liaquat on Tuesday evening announced that he is parting ways with MQM and will be leaving politics.
Liaquat announced his decision while appearing on a private TV channel.
Liaquat was also previously affiliated with the party, and had been expelled from MQM in 2008 for violating party policy.
Attack on ARY office
Sattar and Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Khawaja Izhar-ul-Hasan were released from Rangers custody after overnight detention following violent protests in the metropolis.
Farooq Sattar and Khawaja Izhar were taken into custody by the Rangers on Monday night at Karachi Press Club after suspected MQM workers attacked an ARY News office in the Saddar area of the metropolis. One person was killed and several others injured as police clashed with the angry mob.
Sattar initially attempted to resist being taken into custody but was eventually convinced to follow orders. Khawaja Izhar also accompanied him to the Rangers headquarters. DawnNews reported that Rangers officials informed the MQM leaders that DG Rangers Major General Bilal Akbar wanted to see them.
MQM leader Dr Amir Liaquat was also taken into custody from his office on I.I. Chundrigar Road and later released by the Rangers after overnight detention, according to local media reports.
"Altaf should have retracted his statement," Amir Liaquat said speaking to a local TV channel. "I was awake all night. The Rangers kept me really well and I met the DG Rangers," he said. "I am under a lot of pressure."
The Rangers also raided MQM headquarters Nine Zero Monday night, taking nine other party leaders into custody and sealing MQM offices. The paramilitary force also recovered weapons from Nine Zero, which will be sent for forensic tests.
MQM’s deputy convener Shahid Pasha, MNA Kunwar Naveed Jamil and senior leader Qamar Mansoor were sent on a three-day remand by an administrative judge of the ATC on Tuesday, DawnNews reported.
Sections of the media alleged that MQM workers had carried out the attack after receiving directives in a speech by MQM Chief Altaf Hussain. The MQM supremo today apologised to the military for his earlier ‘anti-Pakistan’ remarks.