KARACHI: Amid scepticism about the authenticity of an audio clip posted on the social media on Friday exactly a month after the incendiary speech of London-based Muttahida Qaumi Movement supremo Altaf Hussain, MQM lawmakers were asked to tender mass resignations and seek a fresh mandate though the recording failed to get any serious response from the parliamentarians who say they no longer recognise him as their leader.

Unlike August 2015 when MQM lawmakers had resigned from the National Assembly, the Senate and the Sindh Assembly on one call of Mr Hussain, none of the elected parliamentarians submitted their resignation on Friday.

The two-minute-and-twenty-six-second audio clip posted by senior London-based party leaders on the social media stirred a controversy within the party before coming under scrutiny by opponents and critics. MQM lawmaker Irum Azeem Farooque questioned the authenticity of the audio when she tweeted: “Those who have heard AltafBhai know it’s not his voice recording.”

In another tweet, she said: “Tell him [Mustafa Azizabadi] if I am wrong why doesn’t he bring Altaf Bhai on Skype right now.” In yet another tweet, she said: “Horns at the background. In London it’s a crime to keep honking horns at this time. Liaqatabad ke bus ka horn tu chup Kara do Azizabadi [Azizabadi, please stop this horn of Liaquatabad bus].”

The tweets attracted strong reaction from Wasay Jalil who insisted on its originality and called the attempts to prove Mr Hussain’s audio message fake part of propaganda. “Haha on those who propagating on fake Altaf Bhai’s audio msg [messages]. Feel shame on that day when vdo msg will come. Same propaganda was done in March. The audio message of Altaf Bhai is 100% genuine & shame on those who are propagating its fake,” he tweeted.

Muttahida lawmakers in the Sindh Assembly and the National Assembly have been following the Dr Farooq Sattar-led MQM-Pakistan since the senior leader dissociated himself and the MQM-Pakistan from Mr Hussain and his London secretariat on Aug 23 a day after the controversial speech.

Despite being pressured by the London leadership, even those MQM lawmakers who were not present in Pakistan did not send their resignations to the speaker of the national and provincial assemblies or the chairman of the Senate.

In the audio message, Karachi and Hyderabad mayors, deputy mayors, chairmen of the Mirpurkhas municipal committee and other local government elected representatives have not been asked to submit their resignations.

In the audio message, Mr Hussain purportedly says he supported the Dr Sattar-led MQM for the sake of unity but he did not know about the conspiracy under which his own name was omitted from the party constitution.

“This is totally unconstitutional and dictatorial. I don’t recognise this decision…So I have given all powers to convener Nadeem Nusrat,” he says, referring to a recent decision through which the MQM coordination committee convener — who was expelled from his post by the MQM-Pakistan — dissolved the coordination committee and party’s organisational structure.

“I ask all MNAs, MPAs, senators that they know and the people also know that they got votes [in the election] in whose name. When they get votes in Altaf Hussain’s name then they should contest election again and immediately submit their resignations,” he appears to say in the audio message.

He can be heard asking his followers to remain steadfast and united. He says that if anyone is facing immense problems then they should either go into hiding or leave the country instead of “selling their conscious and betraying the blood of the martyrs” like many people did.

On Friday, Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Khawaja Izharul Hassan told the media that the MQM parliamentarians got the mandate from those who said “Long Live Pakistan” and “we will not resign on someone’s wish or for his satisfaction”.

Except MNA Sufyan Yusuf who a couple of days back had tweeted from abroad that the mandate belonged to Mr Hussain and he would soon resign from the assembly, no other parliamentarian submitted his or her resignation on Friday.

A senior London-based leader told Dawn that Mr Hussain’s audio statement was only for “Haq Parast” people and party loyalists, as “we do not expect en masse resignations”. However, he said some of the lawmakers would definitely announce their resignations “whenever they get a chance”.

Published in Dawn September 24th, 2016

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