The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday upheld the Election Commission of Pakistan's (ECP) decision to remove Dr Farooq Sattar as convener of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement's (MQM) Pakistan faction.

The MQM-P stalwart had petitioned the IHC against the ECP decision to remove him as party convener in March this year.

The IHC had in April reserved its verdict after Sattar's counsel and the respondents concluded their arguments. The court had initially restored Sattar by suspending the ECP order till it decided the matter.

However, IHC Justice Aamer Farooq today dismissed Sattar's petition, enabling Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui to head the party.

Neither Sattar's nor Siddiqui's counsels were present in court when Justice Farooq announced the decision.

The ECP had removed Sattar from the position of MQM-P convener by accepting a challenge to his election filed by Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and Kanwar Naveed Jameel, leaders of MQM-P Bahadurabad — a rival faction to the Dr Sattar-led 'PIB group'.

The ECP had rejected Sattar's plea that it 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 subsequently annulled the intra-party elections held under Dr Sattar’s leadership, which he claimed to have won with a huge margin.

The ECP had also accepted a petition against a resolution passed at an "emergency general workers’ meeting" called by Dr Sattar last month. At the convention, when Sattar had asked the participants through a resolution if they would endorse the coordination committee’s decision to remove him from the position of 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.

IHC decision is pre-poll rigging

Responding to the decision, Sattar said that he could never wholeheartedly accept the decision as “it was unjust and unfair”.

He said, “It was not minus one or two but minus MQM formula.”

“Any force that could keep mohajir voters united was being removed,” Sattar said, adding that initially MQM-London was sidelined and now him.

"Leaders cannot be removed from people's hearts like this," the MQM leader maintained.

"The ‘kite’ has been snatched from me and given to someone else," he asserted.

Today's decision of Islamabad High Court is tantamount to pre-election rigging, Sattar said.

Sattar said that following IHC’s decision he was looking into three main options which include: approaching the Supreme Court against the decision, going for a boycott of elections, or serve energies to campaign for a new province to be carved out of southern Sindh.

"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, the Constitution and the Pakistani state."

Rifts in the MQM-P had emerged on February 5 over the distribution of party tickets to candidates for the March 3 Senate elections. The party split in 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 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, Farooq was elected party convener after securing over 9,000 votes in intra-party elections.

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