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ISLAMABAD/KARACHI: 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-Pakistan.

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.

Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui says the court recognised him as MQM leader

However, IHC Justice Aamer Farooq on Monday dismissed Sattar’s petition, enabling Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, the convener of the Bahadurabad group, to head the party.

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

Sattar says option to approach SC open

Following the IHC verdict, Dr Sattar told a press conference outside his PIB Colony residence that his colleagues had advised him to approach the Supreme Court against today’s verdict.

“I don’t want division of Mohajirs. But those who can unite Mohajirs are being removed under a planned conspiracy,” he said.

Questioning the IHC verdict, he said that it seemed that “pre-poll rigging” was being done. “We may announce boycott of the elections under protest if the situation persists,” he added.

Dr Sattar said that the judiciary could not make anyone leader and it was the masses who chose their leader. “The people respect me and have confidence in me irrespective of the court’s decision.”

He said that he could be removed from the post of convener through a judgement but no one could remove him from the people’s hearts.

He said that he had not taken a decision whether to approach the SC or not.

The MQM-P leader said that he had launched a movement for the ‘Southern Sindh’ province and he would struggle for it in the elections.

Khalid Maqbool invites Sattar to work together

Praising the IHC verdict, MQM-P leader Dr Siddiqui told a press conference outside the Bahadurabad headquarters that the high court had interpreted the party constitution and recognised him as convener of the coordination committee.

Accompanied by senior leader Amir Khan, Faisal Subzwari and others, he said today’s verdict had shattered the dream of those who wanted division of the MQM into Bahadurabad and PIB factions.

He appealed to Dr Sattar to return to the Bahadurabad headquarters so that “we all can work together and face the numerous challenges and contest the upcoming elections”. He said that the party would not disappoint the estranged leader.

To a question, he said his party had serious reservation over the results of the census in Karachi. He said the MQM had already filed a petition in court, but it did not want any delay in the July 25 election. “However, it is more important that the elections are held in a fair and transparent manner.”

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 in two groups — one led by Sattar and the other then led 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, Dr Sattar was elected party convener after securing over 9,000 votes in intra-party elections.

The Bahadurabad group took the matter to the ECP, which had removed Dr Sattar from the position of MQM-P convener by accepting a challenge to his election.

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.

The ECP had also accepted a petition against a resolution passed at an “emergency general workers’ meeting” called by Dr Sattar. 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.

Published in Dawn, June 12th, 2018