KARACHI: Accusing the Pak Sarzameen Party of snatching its mandate, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan warned on Sunday that its all lawmakers would resign from parliament if any of its elected representatives was forced to switch loyalty.

Speaking at a press conference at the party’s temporary headquarters in Bahadurabad, MQM-P chief Dr Farooq Sattar said that all of his members of the National Assembly, Sindh Assembly and Senate had submitted their resignations to the party high command.

“From now on if loyalty of any of our MNA, MPA or Senator is forcibly changed, we will collectively resign from parliament,” he said. “We are asking our institutions, the army chief and the prime minister to tell us what is their policy for the Mohajirs in Pakistan. Will we be allowed to live or not?”

‘PSP has become a tool to eliminate our representation in Senate’

Accompanied by party’s senior leadership and all parliamentarians, Dr Sattar explained that based on its numeric strength in the Sindh Assembly the MQM could get four Senate seats in the upcoming election due in March 2018. However, the party may lose one of the four seats because some of its lawmakers had quit the party and joined the PSP “under some pressure”, he added.

He said that the Mustafa Kamal-led party was being used by certain quarters to divide the mandate. “The PSP has become a tool to eliminate our representation in the Senate. However, it is not clear whether they are doing this to favour the PPP,” he said.

He said the PSP was formed after March 3, 2016 and initially some of the MQM lawmaker switched sides on their free will.

Dr Sattar said that despite his Aug 23, 2016 step the change of loyalty by certain MPAs was beyond comprehension and it was clear that they were forced to do so.

“We have asked all our MPAs, MNAs and Senators whether you have any reservation or facing pressure to change loyalty,” he said, adding: “We told them that we will approach Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa if they were facing any threats. We are sure it is not the policy of the armed forces and government [to force lawmakers to change loyalty].”

He demanded that the Election Commission of Pakistan unseat those lawmakers who changed their loyalty and announced holding of by-elections on their respective seats.

The MQM-P head said that those who quit the party were still getting their salaries and enjoying perks as lawmakers. “We believe such MPAs would sell their votes in the Senate elections.”

Eight MQM MPAs and one MNA have so far switched their loyalty and joined the PSP. Five of them — Muhammad Dilawar, Bilquees Mukhtar, Irtiza Farooqi, Shaikh Ibrahim and Nadeem Razi — are still members of the Sindh Assembly and have not resigned.

Pointing to the legislators seated behind him, he said the MQM would leave the parliamentary system if conspiracies to change loyalties of its elected members were not stopped.

He also announced that the MQM would hold a demonstration outside the Quaid’s mausoleum on Nov 5 against injustice in the provisional results of the population census.

Answering a question, he said no institution or its head had asked him to change the name of MQM-Pakistan. “The name of our party, its flag, election symbol and manifesto would remain and there will be no merger,” he said.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the PSP said in a statement that Dr Sattar was blaming the PSP only to cover up his “failures, incompetence and corruption”.

Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2017

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