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KARACHI: The infighting within the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan for absolute control over the party intensified on Tuesday as the Bahadurabad group scheduled a workers’ convention for Friday — a day before the intra-party elections called by deposed convener Dr Farooq Sattar of the PIB group.

The two groups have also decided to involve local government representatives in their squabbles as Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar — who is an MQM-P deputy convener and now part of the Bahadurabad group — called a meeting of councillors belonging to the party to show that his group enjoyed a majority in the City Council.

The Bahadurabad group had informed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday that Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui was its new convener and asked it to transfer the registration of the party in his name.

The same day, the PIB group had informed the ECP that Dr Sattar would serve as the party’s convener till fresh elections, slated for Saturday (Feb 17), and that a meeting of the coordination committee in Bahadurabad on Sunday (Feb 11) that elected Dr Siddiqui as the new leader was “illegal”.

The resolution adopted at the meeting was also termed illegal and void.

Group led by Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui to hold workers’ meeting on 16th

However, an ECP spokesman stated any decision about a change in the party’s leadership or its convener would be made by the commission after the intra-party elections.

On Tuesday, a senior MQM-P leader Amir Khan contested the ECP stand that intra-party elections were necessary for change in party leadership.

He said no intra-party elections were held when Dr Sattar became the MQM-P’s convener after removing then London-based convener Nadeem Nusrat.

Later a brief statement issued by the Bahadurabad group said the party would hold a workers’ convention in Nazimabad on Friday (Feb 16).

At the meeting chaired by the Karachi mayor at the KMC Sports Complex here, Wasim Akhtar said that Tuesday’s meeting was not a show of strength.

“This meeting is being held for reviewing ongoing development works.”

The MQM’s strength in the City Council is over 200 and almost half of the councillors are thought to be Dr Sattar’s loyalists as they did not attend the meeting.

Of the six Karachi district municipal corporations, the MQM has control over three DMCs and only the chairmen of Korangi and District East DMCs were present.

The mayor asked the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation officers, close to Dr Sattar, to quit their jobs if they want to do politics. “We cannot divide the people for our politics. The city will suffer if local government representatives get themselves involved in political matters.”

He said all political parties must allow LG representatives to play their role in Karachi’s development.

Wasim Akhtar said he was not afraid of being unseated. “I am the mayor of Karachi and will continue my work as all council members are with me.”

Accusing his opponents in the PIB camp of asking LG representatives not to attend the meeting, he said “they” should not involve city representatives in their politics.

Published in Dawn, February 14th, 2018