KARACHI: While Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan head Dr Farooq Sattar rejected reports of groupings and internal differences, the allegations made by one of his own party members on Saturday exposed a tug of war within the Muttahida’s ranks.

Following his expulsion from the party for violating party discipline, MNA Salman Mujahid Baloch spilled the beans by confirming the existence of two groups within the party.

He told a private news channel on Friday that Dr Sattar and Amir Khan were heading their separate groups within the MQM. The Amir Khan group comprised Faisal Sabzwari, Khwaja Izhar and others, while Kamran Tessori, Kanwar Naveed Jameel and Khwaja Sohail Mansoor were in Dr Sattar’s camp, he added.

Dr Sattar rejects claims

On Saturday, Dr Sattar rejected Mr Baloch’s claims and told the media that there was no grouping in the MQM.

However, he conceded that there were many disgruntled elements like Mr Baloch in the party.

Reports of a widening gulf within the party because of the attitude of Dr Sattar had been doing rounds since June this year when he decided to field a new entrant in the party, Mr Tessori, in the by-election of a provincial assembly constituency (PS-114 Mehmoodabad).

Mr Tessori had joined the MQM-P in February this year and within a week he was made a member of the party’s coordination committee in a move that raised many eyebrows in the party.

But what caused resentment and anger most was the elevation of Mr Tessori to the position of deputy convener of the coordination committee, as almost everyone in the MQM-P privately criticised Dr Sattar for making the gold trader-turned-politician his ‘number three’ in the organisational hierarchy in a short span of less than eight months.

Dr Sattar and Amir Khan hold the position of convener and senior deputy convener of the party, respectively, with Kanwar Naveed, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and Mr Tessori as deputy conveners.

At the beginning of the current month, differences within the MQM-P started surfacing when a former MQM lawmaker, Irum Azeem Farooque, who had joined the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf after ditching the MQM, left the Imran Khan-led party and tried to return to her old party.

Many MQM-P leaders made it clear to Dr Sattar that they would not accept any decision to take her back in the party. MNA Salman Mujahid Baloch also took to social media to vent his anger against Ms Farooque who was later informed that the party was not going to take her back.

On Oct 17, Ms Farooque posted a video on Facebook in which she hinted at very strong groupings within the MQM-P and alleged that Amir Khan, Faisal Sabzwari, Khwaja Izharul Hasan, Salman Baloch and some others did not want her to rejoin the MQM. She was full of praise for Dr Sattar and Mr Tessori. The same day, the MQM issued a statement announcing that she had been expelled from the party.

Three days later, the MQM-P, without citing any grounds, revoked the basic membership of MNA Salman Mujahid Baloch for “violating party discipline”.

Mr Baloch told a private news channel that no one could expel him from the MQM-P, which “is the party of martyrs and oppressed people”.

He said many people, including Amir Khan, Mr Sabzwari, Khwaja Izhar, had opposed the inclusion of Ms Farooque in the party, but “they” only took “their revenge on me”.

He said the internal groupings were only aimed at making money and firming up their positions in the party.

He alleged that MNA Kishwar Zehra and Kanwar Naveed were in direct contact with the MQM-London and Dr Sattar had an indirect contact — a charge vehemently denied by Dr Sattar.

Published in Dawn, October 22nd, 2017