The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan's (MQM-P) Bahadurabad group on Tuesday lashed out at the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) as a heated war of words between the two parties escalated further after the latter held a rally in Karachi's Liaquatabad area ─ traditionally an MQM stronghold ─ on Sunday.
During his speech on April 29, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, whose party rules the province, held the MQM ─ the party with control over the local government ─ responsible for "all of Karachi's woes" and had promised the metropolis would now be ruled by those "born and raised" in the provincial capital.
Although Bilawal was born in Karachi, he was brought up in the United Kingdom after his mother and former PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto left the country in self-imposed exile.
MQM-P Bahadurabad Convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, addressing a press conference in Karachi, hit out at Bilawal, saying: "You have done nothing but spread hatred and violence in the city. The people recognise you very well."
"You held a rally in Liaquatabad, which is our [MQM's] centre, knowing that you will not be harmed. Why don't you hold such a rally in Lyari?" Siddiqui challenged the PPP, asking if Bilawal had anything to say about the notorious Lyari gang wars, which he alleged were engineered by the PPP's "militant wings".
Militancy in Karachi has diminished in the years following the launch of a Rangers operation in 2013. During the operation, the MQM's Nine-Zero headquarters were shut down and the party's alleged militant wing was dismantled.
Explore: The MQM crisis
Siddiqui today announced that the MQM would respond to Bilawal's onslaught at FC's Tanki Ground in Liaquatabad on May 5, the venue where the PPP held its rally over the weekend.
The MQM-P Bahadurabad leader invited all political parties in Karachi, including the Farooq Sattar-led MQM-P PIB rival faction, to come together at the rally in order to reclaim the city.
"Karachi only progressed when muhajirs ruled the city," Siddiqui claimed.
Siddiqui also raised questions over Bilawal's "legitimacy as PPP's chairman" by pointing out that the party had a dynastic structure.
Siddiqui also addressed MQM's breakup with the party's founder, saying that his party members had "stood by their leader through thick and thin" but abandoned him in the national interest.
The party split after founder Altaf Hussain made anti-Pakistan remarks in August 2016, leading to an attack on the offices of a local media group. The Rangers took MQM leaders into custody overnight, following which Farooq Sattar announced the next day that the party was sidelining Hussain, thus leading to the formation of the MQM-P.
The MQM-P has since then fallen to infighting which became most apparent during the Senate elections this year, causing the Pakistan wing of the party to be split further into two groups, the Bahadurabad faction and the PIB Colony faction.
In April, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif ─ during a rare visit to Karachi ─ met Siddiqui and other party members at the Bahadurabad group's office, after which both leaders held a joint press conference. The PML-N president called for all parties to work together for the betterment of Karachi, vowing to turn into "the New York of South Asia" if his party was elected to power in the upcoming election.