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KARACHI: A day after confirming their participation in the multiparty conference convened by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, major political and religious parties backed out at the last minute, forcing the MQM-P to ‘postpone’ the event on Tuesday.

A senior MQM leader told Dawn that the party came to know about non-participation of the Pakistan Peoples Party, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Pakistan Muslim League-Functional, PML-Q, Awami National Party, Jamiat Ulema-Islam-Fazl and a few others on Tuesday before the event.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the leader said he believed that the boycott by certain parties was actually “motivated” by the powers that be which were unhappy with the MQM-P over a recent “bold” statement of Dr Sattar in which he made it clear that he would not accept disbanding of his party and never bow to pressure to merge it with any other group.

He said the Pak Sarzameen Party, Mohajir Qaumi Movement-Haqiqi and PML-Nawaz were among the many parties which were still committed to their participation in the MPC. “However, we decided to cancel the event and I think this has angered the establishment more.”

The MQM-P had invited the PPP, ruling PML-N, PTI, Jamaat-i-Islami, PML-F, PML-Q, ANP, PSP, MQM-H, Sindh United Party and several other parties to their event to discuss issues pertaining to conspiracies against the country, corruption and empowering local government institutions.

Except the PPP and the JI which did not confirm their participation when MQM delegations met and invited them on Monday to the event, all parties had accepted the invitation and assured the Dr Farooq Sattar-led party of their participation.

Dr Sattar told a press conference at the venue of the MPC that he came to know about the “boycott of the MPC by major parties” through the media in the morning.

“We tried to unite everyone on the day when anti-Pakistan slogans were raised and media houses attacked,” he said. “By not participating in our conference, the PPP, ANP, JI and PML-Q have rejected our Aug 23, 2016 step and endorsed the anti-Pakistan speech and slogans of Altaf Hussain and London.”

Expressing his gratitude to the PSP, MQM-H, Mohajir Ittehad Tehreek, PML-N, All Pakistan Muslim League, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Sami, Majlis Wahdat-i-Muslimeen, Mohajir Rabita Council, Khaksar Tehreek for their willingness to participate in the event, he said: “We have been compelled to postpone the event because the parties which had earlier promised their participation backed out at the last minute without even informing us.”

He said the MQM-P would never have postponed the event but certain people would have given the impression that the MPC was organised to show unity among different factions of the MQM. “There is no division ... Karachi’s vote bank is still intact.”

Dr Sattar said that in the next elections the people of Karachi and urban areas of Sindh would “boycott all those parties which boycotted the MQM event”.

He was critical of what he called “anti-Pakistan” statements of Altaf Hussain and activities of his top lieutenants, including Nadeem Nusrat, Wasay Jalil and Qasim Ali.

Published in Dawn, August 23rd, 2017