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MQM-Pakistan stages first big show at Nishtar Park

December 31, 2016


THE MQM-Pakistan leadership takes the stage at Nishtar Park.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
THE MQM-Pakistan leadership takes the stage at Nishtar Park.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: In the first show of power since taking over the reins of the party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan chief Dr Farooq Sattar said on Friday that the people of Karachi had endorsed his Aug 23 decision to part ways with London-based supremo Altaf Hussain and his international secretariat.

“This huge public meeting is a validation of our Aug 23 step and a demonstration of the results of 2018 elections,” Dr Sattar told participants of a public meeting held here at Nishtar Park, alluding to the coming polls.

Friday’s public meeting was the first show of strength since MQM’s local leadership had dissociated itself from Mr Hussain following his Aug 22 anti-Pakistan speech. Not only was Nishtar Park packed to capacity, but adjacent lanes and streets were also filled with people, who reached the venue in the form of rallies from different city areas.

London-based leaders slam effort by ‘PIB gang’

However, the MQM-London made it clear that it had nothing to do with Friday’s show and “the PIB gang” was misusing Mr Hussain’s name to persuade the people to come to their public meeting. But in the words of a senior MQM-Pakistan leader, the participation of a large number of people, including women and children, in the event clearly indicated that the party’s support base was still intact and the people wanted to see one unified MQM.

Almost every speaker avoided making confrontational speeches and none of them tried to even indirectly heap scorn on the MQM founder. They made it clear that they held the public meeting not to show power but to tell their detractors that the MQM would always be one and it would repeat the same results it got in the 2013 general elections.

However, senior party leader Aamir Khan was critical of some MQM-London leaders whom he described as “a gang of sycophants in London” and said that they fled the country when times got tough. “You are talking about our martyrs when you failed to look after the children of shaheed-i-inqilab Dr Imran Farooq when his widow was hospitalised in London.”

In his speech that began after 10pm, Dr Sattar said that the MQM would take up the matter of the people of urban areas of Sindh at every level.

He said that the local government system was the future of the country. He demanded that the LG institutions in Sindh be given powers in accordance with the Constitution.

He called upon the Sindh government to hand over Karachi Water and Sewerage Board, master plan department, building control authority and solid waste management board to the Karachi mayor so that he could serve the people.

Dr Sattar, who appointed himself convener of the coordination committee in October, said that operations had been launched in Karachi without realising the problems of the mega city. He said that Karachi should not be left out of mainstream politics.

Talking about the forthcoming census, he said that the MQM would manage to get elected its chief minister in Sindh if census was held in a transparent manner.

Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar, who also spoke, said the people gave the MQM their mandate and it must be respected. He demanded powers for the local government set-up and said that the rights of Karachi must be given to its elected LG representatives.

Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Faisal Subzwari, Khwaja Izharul Hasan, Khushbakht Shujaat, Rauf Siddiqui and others also spoke.

Police and paramilitary Rangers were deployed on main roads for security, while the security arrangements inside Nishtar Park were overseen by MQM workers.

As per their tradition, young workers of the party’s students’ wing — the All Pakistan Muttahida Students Organisation — were controlling the vehicular traffic on main M.A. Jinnah Road from Gurumandir till Numaish traffic intersection and internal roads leading to the venue.

Published in Dawn, December 31st, 2016