KARACHI: Ending four days of ambiguity over its relationship with Altaf Hussain, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan led by Dr Farooq Sattar completely dissociated itself from the London-based supremo and asked the establishment not to doubt their intentions and allow them to freely resume their political activities.
“We have completely dissociated ourselves from Altaf Hussain sahib and the London [office],” Dr Sattar told a press conference here, without calling the MQM supremo bhai or Quaid.
“Now the MQM-Pakistan will make its own policies and take decisions which would have nothing to do with London [secretariat].”
PSP lashes out at the establishment for taking no action over anti-Pakistan speech
Dr Sattar’s latest announcement was a complete departure from his Aug 23 press conference in which he just disowned the MQM chief’s anti-Pakistan remarks — and not him — and repeatedly referred to him as Altaf bhai and MQM Quaid.
On Aug 24, MQM’s Waseem Akhtar won the Karachi mayor election from prison and the party also won three of Karachi’s six districts as well as top municipal offices in Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas and some other towns in Sindh.
But over the past four days a renewed crackdown against the party has been launched with authorities sealing over 200 MQM offices, picking up some lawmakers and dozens of activists, including women, and demolishing at least 20 offices in Karachi.
While the Nine-Zero headquarters, which was sealed on the night between Aug 22 and 23, is still not open after the mayoral election, MQM leadership along with elected chairmen and vice chairmen of Karachi union committees have not been allowed to even visit a nearby monument — Yadgar-i-Shuhda — to pay their respects following their victory.
Even the MQM nemesis, the Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP), termed the crackdown and demolition of offices ‘unfortunate’ and regretted that the establishment had so far taken no concrete step against the person who delivered the anti-Pakistan speech.
With every talk show host subjecting Dr Sattar to strong criticism for not condemning and disowning Mr Hussain, the MQM leadership in Pakistan finally realised that their mere disowning the statement was not enough, as it was the desire of the establishment that they completely detach themselves from the London-based leader.
Referring to Mr Hussain as the MQM founder, in Saturday’s presser Dr Sattar categorically disowned Mr Hussain and urged his detractors to believe his words and stop doubting his intentions.
He said that previously a worker or leader announced leaving the party but now the whole MQM has left its London secretariat.
About the arrest of female workers of the MQM and demolition and sealing of MQM offices, he said these actions proved that the issue was not related to the statement of one person.
He said it appeared that the powers that be were working on an agenda to divide the MQM into four or five factions.
Without naming the Mustafa Kamal-led Pak Sarzameen Party, he said certain quarters had earlier created another MQM. “Now tickers are being run regarding the arrest of terrorists of the MQM London secretariat. This shows that they are creating one more MQM,” he said, referring to a Rangers’ announcement in which they claimed to have arrested three suspected hitmen belonging to the London secretariat.
“There is only one MQM which is the MQM-Pakistan,” Dr Sattar said.
Terming the arrest of female activists unjustified, he said the arrested women had no connection with the Aug 22 attack on media houses. “These woman workers were not in the video I was shown in the custody of Rangers.”
He said although the MQM was a registered political party its offices, including the Nine-Zero headquarters, were sealed unlawfully. “Even the offices constructed on private lands were demolished without giving any notice.”
He appealed to the authorities not to bulldoze libraries and computer labs on the pretext of demolishing MQM offices.
A dejected Dr Sattar asked the powers that be as to what sentences he could utter to satisfy them. “For God’s sake, allow us to work and move forward.”
The MQM leader said that Karachi Mayor-elect Waseem Akhtar would himself announce action against encroachments soon after taking the oath of his office. “We will guarantee you that the Karachi mayor will first demolish every illegal office of the MQM.”
He demanded that an unannounced ban on MQM’s political activities be lifted forthwith and party offices, including the Nine-Zero headquarters, be unsealed.
Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Khwaja Izharul Hasan said on the occasion that it was for the first time in the country’s history that female activists of a party were arrested and remanded in police custody by an antiterrorism court.
He appealed to Maryam Nawaz and Bakhtawar Bhutto-Zardari to take notice of the arrest of female workers and play their role in their release.
Meanwhile, following the MQM press conference, the Prime Minister Office contacted the party and sought details about the held female workers on Saturday evening. “We have sent all details to the PMO,” said Khwaja Izhar.
Earlier on Saturday, PSP chairman Mustafa Kamal asked the establishment and the federal and provincial governments as to why they did not take any concrete step against the person who made the anti-Pakistan speech.
He told the powers that be that the arrest of MQM workers and demolition of their offices would further a sense of deprivation among Mohajirs and provide anti-state elements another chance to present themselves as victim.
He demanded that the federal and provincial governments take meaningful steps, abolish the quota system, provide jobs to Mohajirs so that no one in future could exploit the sense of deprivation in the Urdu-speaking community.
The former Karachi mayor said that the MQM and Altaf Hussain were not two separate entities and Dr Sattar was not capable of replacing his London-based leader.
He said the “mothers and daughters of this nation” were being arrested and produced in anti-terrorism court” only because of the so-called leader of the Mohajir community.
Published in Dawn, August 28th, 2016