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Farooq Sattar dissolves MQM Rabita Committee, calls for fresh intra-party polls on Feb 17

Updated February 11, 2018

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MQM leader Kanwar Navid Jamil speaks at a press conference announcing the removal of Sattar from his post as convener. Photo:Dawn News
MQM leader Kanwar Navid Jamil speaks at a press conference announcing the removal of Sattar from his post as convener. Photo:Dawn News

Hours after Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan's (MQM-P) Rabita Committee (Coordination Committee) moved to remove him from the convener's position, Dr Farooq Sattar called a general workers' meeting at PIB where he announced to dissolve the Rabita Committee and called for holding fresh intra-party polls on February 17, to determine the new leader of the party.

Sattar called it a gathering of "responsible party members" and asked the audience to raise hands if they wanted to see the coordination committee dissolved, to which they responded with a positive gesture.

Citing a section of the party constitution, Sattar announced to sack all the conveners and deputy conveners of the party in a counter move, following the party's Rabita Committee move to remove him from the convener's position after the Election Commission of Pakistan allowed MQM-P deputy-convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui the authority to hand out party tickets for the upcoming Senate elections.

Addressing the gathering, Sattar asked who the workers wanted as the party's leader. The charged crowd responded with chants of "Farooq Bhai, Farooq Bhai".

Earlier in the day, party leader Kunwar Naveed Jamil explained that there were "many reasons why Dr Farooq Sattar was removed from his position".

"The registration of a party as organised as the MQM was cancelled by the ECP only due to the negligence of Dr Farooq Sattar. Despite continuous reminders from the coordination committee, Sattar did not file the party workers' wealth statements with the ECP, due to which the party’s registration was cancelled," he added.

"Dr Sattar purposefully sabotaged the Khidmat-e-Khalq Foundation [the welfare arm of the MQM] by committing gross mismanagement in its affairs," he alleged. "Nazeer Hussain University is dysfunctional now and its employees haven't been paid for seven months now."

“Dr Farooq Sattar also altered the party constitution to his own benefit and took all authorities and powers for himself," Jamil further alleged.

"We all love Farooq bhai deeply in a personal capacity. He was our party's convener. He no longer is. We deliberated in great detail regarding this issue — the reasons I'm detailing are a small fraction of all the ones we deliberated."

"The whole issue started when Dr Farooq Sattar tried to force Kamran Tessori as the party’s candidate for Senate elections," he said.

Expressing the committee's reservations regarding the rapid ascent of Kamran Tessori in the party, Jamil alleged that Tessori was only made convener of MQM at the insistence of Dr Sattar, keeping merit aside.

He also alleged that Sattar had remained unwilling to accommodate the coordination committee's requests despite multiple overtures to seek a solution to the problem.

Jamil claimed that the committee had even abdicated its right to nominate senators completely for the sake of maintaining unity in the party, but Sattar remained unwilling to remove Tessori from the list of nominees.

"We have decided to promote the movement and not individuals," he continued.

"Dr Farooq Sattar does not hold any position of responsibility in the party anymore. He is now a common worker of the party," he concluded.

Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, speaking after Jamil, said Sattar's removal had been necessitated by the latter's call for a party workers' convention today that would have split the party completely.

He, however, did not foreclose the possibility of Sattar being reinstated as the convener of the party, saying the committee would be open to it if Sattar "realises his error".

Farooq Sattar responds

"I was ousted through a structured conspiracy," Dr Farooq Sattar responded soon after being removed from the post of MQM convener.

"The issue was not about the nomination of one person — they [Bahadurabad group] actually wanted to nominate their favourites," Sattar claimed. "They are cloaking their selfish interests in their objection to [Tessor's] nomination for Senate seats"

"If I had made all the mistakes they claim I have made, why did they wait for the Senate election to act on them?" he asked.

"And if I had usurped all the powers in the party, how did they so successfully hold multiple meetings without my knowledge and conspire against me as well?"

"They haven't just sacked me: they have deprived every deserving worker of the party of his due right," he said.

"The party members had issues with me holding the authority of nominating party representatives," he explained. "I was forever the force obstructing the selling out of Karachi and the empowerment of the qabza mafia."

"If these people were sincere about finding a solution to the crisis, they wouldn't have signed a declaration for my ouster on February 7 — at the same time they were sending delegations to negotiate with me."

"The verdict will be delivered by the people's court today," he announced, before inviting all party workers to the KMC ground in PIB Colony for a grand convention.

"This was just a trailer: the full film will play at the KMC ground," he said.

Tussle over Senate tickets

Earlier in the day, former ECP secretary Kanwar Dilshad had said that MQM-P leader Dr Farooq Sattar has been stripped of his ticket-awarding powers.

Soon after the ECP announced its decision, however, Dr Sattar and other party leaders arrived at the election body's office in Karachi. "I am the party convener, only I have the right to give a ticket," Dr Sattar told ECP officials, contesting the election body's ruling. "In my presence, the deputy-convener cannot even call a meeting."

Speaking outside the ECP, Dr Sattar said that all the meetings held without his knowledge can be questioned. A day earlier, Dr Sattar had announced issuing show-cause notices to some coordination committee members for holding “unconstitutional” party meetings.

Citing parts of the party's constitution, he said: "If Khalid [Maqbool Siddiqui] bhai wants to assist the convener [Sattar], then I will also submit a letter to support him. But if I feel this power is being misused, then I will revoke his right to hand out tickets."

Dr Sattar stressed that it was only with his backing that Siddiqui has been authorised to hand out party tickets, saying, "Otherwise, it would not be possible for him to do so."

The deputy-convener's role is limited, Sattar had said while talking to the media. "He can only assist, not take over the convener's duties."

Widening rift

On Friday, MQM-P's coordination committee had exercised its rights under the party's constitution and delegated the authority to deputy-convener Siddiqui to hand out party tickets for the upcoming elections.

Party leader Faisal Sabzwari, in a chat with newsmen on Friday, had said that under the party constitution, neither the convener nor any other person had the right to hand out party tickets. He had said this right is the sole privilege of the coordination committee, which is transferring it to deputy-convener Siddiqui.

The committee had also written to the ECP, urging it to accept the Senate election nominations of its candidates immediately.

According to DawnNews sources, the letter reminded the ECP that according to MQM-P's constitution, the right to issue tickets to election candidates resides with the coordination committee.

The letter also emphasised that the party's convener does not have that right.