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Sattar flip-flops on PSP alliance, quitting politics

Updated November 10, 2017
MUTTA­HIDA Qaumi Movement-Pak­istan leaders Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar and Senator Nasreen Jalil try to persuade Dr Farooq Sattar to withdraw his decision to quit politics on Thursday night.—White Star
MUTTA­HIDA Qaumi Movement-Pak­istan leaders Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar and Senator Nasreen Jalil try to persuade Dr Farooq Sattar to withdraw his decision to quit politics on Thursday night.—White Star

KARACHI: The political alliance formed by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and the Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) at the behest of the powers that be came under strain within 24 hours when Dr Farooq Sattar lashed out at Mustafa Kamal and announced his decision to quit politics, only to change his mind about both his political career and the deal with the PSP on Thursday night.

On Wednesday, Dr Sattar and Mr Kamal had addressed a joint press conference to announce the political alliance to contest the upcoming polls from the platform of one single party and on one electoral symbol.

However, Dr Sattar faced strong criticism from his own people who thought it would lead to a merger and disbanding of the MQM-P.

He did not go to his party’s headquarters in Bahadurabad on Thursday and conveyed to the MQM-P that he was unhappy with their criticism. He called a press conference at his PIB Colony residence on Thursday night and though the MQM-P leaders and workers visited his residence to address his concerns, he refused to meet them.

Mustafa Kamal’s party reviews fate of political deal

He spoke to the media alone.

“It is better for me to leave politics if my own Rabita [coordination] committee and workers think that I have sold out the Mohajirs,” he declared.

During his protracted press conference, Dr Sattar criticised PSP leader Mus­tafa Kamal, saying how he could merge his party with the one which did not even recognise the Mohajirs.

In a thinly-veiled reference to the establishment, he said “engineered politics” could not work anywhere in the country, including Karachi.

He disclosed that he had sent a letter to the prime minister, army chief, chief justice of Pakistan and chiefs of intelligence agencies.

However, he did not share details of the letter, saying he would make it public if the people wanted to go into details of his meetings with the PSP that, according to Mr Kamal, spanned over a period of six months.

Dr Sattar challenged the PSP to win just one seat from Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta or even Larkana to prove their national politics, offering that if the PSP managed to do so he would himself “bury the MQM”.

Dr Sattar said he was disappointed when Mr Kamal during Wednesday’s presser said that he would not form an alliance with the MQM-P since it was the party of Altaf Hussain. “Then why were you sitting beside me and making an alliance?” he asked.

Accountability

Presenting himself for accountability, he asked Mr Kamal to tell the nation as to how he had got his over Rs30million bullet-proof SUV as well as a house in Karachi’s Defence neighbourhood.

“I have been living in the same house which was purchased by my father in 1969. Where did you live 30 years ago and from where this house came?”

He urged Mr Kamal not to insult the mandate of the Mohajirs just because he had political enmity with MQM founder Altaf Hussain.

As soon as he announced leaving the MQM-P and politics, party leaders and workers surrounded him, stopped him from continuing his press conference and urged him to get reverse his decision.

After an hour-long behind-the-scenes negotiations, Dr Sattar emerged from his home and addressed another press conference in the early hours of Friday morning. Seated next to him were his mother, who also spoke, and senior MQM-P leader Amir Khan.

Dr Sattar said that he only reversed his decision on the directive of his mother. He said there was a ban on party leadership to visit the Yadgar-i-Shuhada and the Shuhada graveyard in Azizabad, but he would go there on Saturday.

The alliance

He said the alliance with the PSP remained intact from the MQM-P’s side and it could turn into an electoral alliance, if needed. However, he quickly added that his party would contest the election on its symbol of kite.

Sources close to Dr Sattar told Dawn that he faced tremendous pressure from certain quarters at a meeting held at a DHA safe house on Tuesday night for entering into an alliance with the PSP and then gradually dissolving the MQM-P.

They said when Dr Sattar resisted he was warned that either he did what he had been told to do or be ready to face arrest because a well-known Karachi police officer was on his way to take him into custody. The MQM-P leadership was also told that if they did not comply with the directives their party would be declared a banned outfit.

He was very much disturbed and felt himself humiliated because the way with which he was forced to do things depicted that the establishment did not take into account the sacrifices he had made after the Aug 22, 2016 incendiary speech by Altaf Hussain.

Meanwhile, both the MQM-P and PSP preferred to go their own way earlier on Thursday.

The MQM-P held a meeting of its coordination committee with deputy convener Kanwar Naveed Jameel in the chair in the absence of Dr Sattar.

Speaking at a news briefing, Mr Jameel said that on Wednesday Dr Sattar spoke about an electoral alliance with the PSP like the past ones including the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad and Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal in which the component parties continued to have their own party flags, electoral symbol and manifesto, but went into elections from one platform and on one election symbol.

He said the MQM-P would also continue to keep its own identity, election symbol kite, flag and manifesto and it would contest the elections on seats it had won in the 2013 general elections without entering into an alliance with anyone.

The PSP also held an internal meeting in which it decided to launch a membership drive in Karachi from Nov 11.

PSP chairman Kamal said that the manifesto of his party and its struggle was the only solution for the problems of the people of Pakistan.

A source said as far as the PSP was concerned the fate of the political alliance hung in the balance and the party was reviewing Dr Sattar’s press conference. It would give an official reaction after Chehlum, he added.

Published in Dawn, November 10th, 2017