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Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM-P) stalwart Dr Farooq Sattar on Wednesday submitted a petition in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) challenging Election Commission of Pakistan's (ECP) order to remove him as the convener of the party.

The IHC is expected to take up Sattar's petition on Thursday.

The ECP on Monday had removed Sattar from the position of MQM-P convener by accepting the challenge to his election and rejected his plea that the ECP had no jurisdiction to adjudicate upon internal matters of the party.

A five-member bench, headed by Chief Election Commissioner Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza, had annulled the intra-party elections of the MQM-P held under Dr Sattar’s leadership that he claimed to have won with a huge margin.

The petitions assailing his position had been filed by Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and Kanwar Naveed Jameel, leaders of MQM-P Bahadur­abad — a rival faction of the Dr Sattar-led PIB group.

The commission had also accepted a petition challenging the resolution passed at an “emergency general workers’ meeting” called by Dr Sattar last month. At the convention, when he had asked the participants through a resolution if they would endorse the coordination committee’s decision to remove him from the position of the convener, the workers had replied in the negative.

Following the ECP's judgement, Dr Sattar had told the media that the decision would be remembered as a ‘dark verdict’. He had ter­med the judgement “illegal and unconstitutional” and said the commission had never issued judgements on intra-party disputes in the past.

“I have been punished for standing against MQM foun­der Altaf Hussain on Aug 23 [2016],” Dr Sattar had said, referring to the day when he announced parting ways with Hussain over his incendiary speech, “and for standing alongside Pakis­tan, Consti­tution and the Pakistani state”.

The Bahadurabad group’s coordination committee, however, had invited Dr Sattar again to "work together in order to strengthen the party".

“As we are inviting workers and office-bearers, we will also approach Dr Farooq Sattar bhai personally,” senior MQM-P leader Faisal Subzwari had told reporter. “We will not accept any division.”

Rifts in the party

Earlier, rifts in the MQM-P had emerged on Feb 5 over the distribution of party tickets to candidates for the March 3 Senate elections. The party split into two groups — one led by Sattar and the other by senior leader Amir Khan — and both sides took extreme actions against each other.

The Bahadurabad group ousted Dr Sattar from the post of convener with a two-thirds majority and in a tit-for-tat reaction Sattar held a workers’ convention the same day, dissolved the coordination committee and announced intra-party elections. On Feb 18, Dr Sattar was elected the party convener after securing over 9,000 votes in the intra-party elections.