KARACHI: Two days after the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan lost a key by-election on a provincial assembly seat, Pak Sarzameen Party chairman Syed Mustafa Kamal asked Dr Farooq Sattar and his entire leadership on Tuesday to leave the “party of Altaf Hussain” and join the PSP — an offer quickly rejected by the MQM-P.

The MQM-P candidate lost the PS-114 by-election against Pakistan Peoples Party’s Saeed Ghani by a margin of over 5,000 votes. Although MQM founder Altaf Hussain had asked his followers to boycott the by-election, the MQM-P managed to show an impressive performance by securing over 18,000 votes.

The PSP, which had opposed the MQM-P tooth and nail before the by-election on a provincial assembly constituency in Malir (PS-127), remained silent during the whole election campaign.

Offer termed an attempt to stay ‘relevant’

On Tuesday both the PSP and MQM-P held separate press conferences primarily to express their concerns over the report of a joint investigation team probing money laundering allegations against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family.

While the two parties demanded that the PM resign from his office and contest charges to save democracy, the PSP chief, who held the first presser, used the occasion to make a goodwill gesture to the MQM-P by asking its leadership to join his party. However, the latter termed it ‘ridiculous’ and dismissed the proposal.

‘Hand of friendship’

“We are extending a hand of friendship towards Dr Farooq Sattar and everyone in the MQM-Pakistan in the larger interest of the people of Karachi to come [join us] and serve the people together,” he said. “We have made it clear from the very beginning that the MQM is [the party of] Altaf Hussain and Dr Farooq Sattar would never own it.”

He said that the by-election on two provincial assembly seats — PS-127 (Malir) and PS-114 (Mehmoodabad) — proved that the MQM belonged to Mr Hussain and would remain his party.

“The PSP did not say anything to oppose the MQM-Pakistan during the election on PS-114, but it lost the seat against the PPP despite its bad governance and corruption,” he said.

The former mayor said that the PPP was taking full advantage of the division and the people of Karachi were worried about what the PPP would do with Karachi when it failed to improve civic conditions and life in its strongholds such as Larkana, Nawabshah and Khairpur.

Mr Kamal was also critical of the MQM-P leadership as he accused it of providing “oxygen” to Mr Hussain after he chanted anti-Pakistan slogans on Aug 22 last year and because of their support he was still plotting against the country from London.

A few hours later, the MQM-P head, Dr Sattar, spoke on the Panama Papers issue, the JIT report, the alleged rigging by the ruling party during the PS-114 election and his party’s plan to challenge the result in court, but did not say a word about Mr Kamal’s offer.

It was Faisal Sabzwari with Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Khwaja Izharul Hasan who termed Mr Kamal’s offer ‘ridiculous’ and said the PSP chairman was trying to become ‘relevant’ in the city’s politics.

“If any party claims that the MQM-Pakistan got 18,000 votes [in PS-114] because of their silence or someone’s boycott appeal then they should remember that only 2,000 people had attended their million-man march,” Mr Sabzwari said.

Khwaja Izhar asked Mr Kamal to contest election if he had public support. He said the PSP leader wasted his words instead of condemning the boycott call and organised rigging by the PPP.

He said doors of the MQM-P under the leadership of Dr Sattar were open for everyone.

Published in Dawn, July 12th, 2017

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