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IN an uncomfortable reminder to the Karachi-based MQM leadership, Nadeem Nusrat says Altaf Hussain remains the party’s paramount leader.
IN an uncomfortable reminder to the Karachi-based MQM leadership, Nadeem Nusrat says Altaf Hussain remains the party’s paramount leader.

KARACHI: The leadership of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement in Pakistan on Tuesday night removed the London-based coterie of MQM founder Altaf Hussain from the top decision-making forum of the party after coordination committee convener Nadeem Nusrat asserted that the much-reviled supremo was still the party’s uncontested chief.

Mr Nusrat, who was until recently recognised as the convener of the MQM coordination committee by the Pakistan-based leadership, said at a programme held to celebrate the 63rd birthday of Mr Hussain in London that no one could separate the Mohajir community from Mr Hussain as he was the one who gave them a separate identity. “Altaf Hussain himself is the MQM.”

The MQM leader’s speech — posted on the party website that has been blocked in Pakistan since Mr Hussain’s Aug 22 tirade — put the Dr Farooq Sattar-led MQM-Pakistan in an awkward position as it wrote Mr Hussain out of the party constitution, but retained Mr Nusrat as the party convener.

The MQM-Pakistan issued a brief statement in the evening saying it had unanimously dissociated itself “from London” after the Aug 22 incident and the statement issued recently from London should not be construed as its statement.

After issuing the statement, the coordination committee went into an emergency session at the temporary headquarters of the MQM-Pakistan in Karachi’s PIB Colony. The meeting, presided over by Dr Sattar and attended by all members of the coordination committee in Pakistan, decided to remove four London-based members from the committee.

According to another statement, the meeting decided to expel London-based MQM convener Nadeem Nusrat and members Wasay Jalil, Mustafa Azizabadi and Qasim Ali Raza.

Sources said that Jalil, Azizabadi and Raza had been sacked because they chanted “anti-Pakistan slogans” during the birthday celebrations of Mr Hussain. Another member, Inbisat Mallick, was not expelled as he did not take part in any such activity, they added.

The sources said the action had been taken without providing any of the four leaders an opportunity to present their viewpoint.

The meeting also decided that the basic membership of any member or office-bearer would be terminated if they were found involved in any act against the country’s integrity and solidarity, according to the statement.

Three weeks ago, Dr Sattar announced at a press conference that an article in the MQM constitution giving utmost authority to Mr Hussain had been omitted, while another about the role of the MQM convener as party head had been substituted to allow senior deputy conveners of the coordination committee — he himself and Amir Khan — to act as party leader in the absence of Mr Nusrat in Pakistan.

Like Altaf Hussain, Nadeem Nusrat has also been silent since the Aug 22 incident and the subsequent press conferences by Dr Sattar. But his latest assertion is being seen as an attempt against the backdrop of what is being described as the failure of the MQM-Pakistan to get any relief despite doing everything to what a senior party leader said appease the establishment.

Sources in the MQM said it appeared that the London leadership had carefully reviewed the situation in Pakistan before sending a clear message to Dr Sattar and his team that they could not eliminate Mr Hussain’s role from the party at the stroke of a pen. They believed that the decision to expel them from the coordination committee would not stop them from running the MQM from its international secretariat.

Till late in the night, none of the four sacked leaders gave any reaction to the MQM-Pakistan’s decision.

Published in Dawn September 21st, 2016