KARACHI: Wary of the Pakistan Peoples Party and Pak Sarzameen Party’s prospects in the upcoming general elections, the PIB and Bahadurabad groups of the Muttahida Qaumi Move­ment-Pakistan on Friday decided to put aside their differences for now to show their voters and supporters that they will go to the polls together under the same election symbol of kite.

Dr Farooq Sattar seems to be the sole loser in the battle that began on Feb 5 over MQM-P leadership, as background interviews with some key leaders of the Bahadurabad group indicated that they were unwilling to give him back the responsibility of the party convener, especially after the June 11 decision of Islamabad High Court.

The IHC had ruled that the MQM coordination committee convener was Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and not Dr Sattar as per decision of the Election Commission of Pakistan. While Dr Sattar told a press conference following the decision that he could challenge the IHC ruling before the Supreme Court, Dr Siddiqui at his press conference invited him to the Bahadurabad office of the party though without mentioning his future role in the MQM-P.

Also read: What's behind the rift?

Sources said most of the PIB group members were against any further confrontation with the Bahadurabad group as they did not want Dr Sattar to approach the Supreme Court, citing that a division within the MQM-P would only benefit the rival PSP and PPP in the July 25 general elections.

The sources said candidates of the two factions had filed nomination papers for national and provincial assembly seats against each other, but there was a realisation in both camps that none of them could win even a single seat if the division persisted.

While most members in the PIB camp are ready to return to Bahadurabad unconditionally, the Bahadurabad faction seems uninterested in giving Dr Sattar the importance they were promising until a few days back.

Even a day before the IHC decision, the Bahadurabad faction offered Dr Sattar to return to the party as convener of the coordination committee. “This [offer] is no longer valid,” said a senior Bahadurabad group leader, adding that the IHC declared Dr Siddiqui convener on a plea filed by Dr Sattar himself.

“Our doors are open for every worker, office-bearer and leader, including Farooq bhai, and they should return to the party and we all should go to polls from the united platform of the MQM-P,” he said.

He said that it was decided during behind-the-scene talks between the two camps that the PIB group would submit a list of their candidates to a parliamentary board, which would make a final decision.

Asked whether the Bahadurabad group would give Dr Sattar the right to grant election ticket, another senior leader briefly replied: “I doubt.”

Dr Sattar was earlier told that he could return to the party as convener but the power to grant election tickets and authority to oversee internal organisational matter would rest with other persons.

On Friday, a meeting was held at Dr Sattar’s residence in which it was decided that the PIB group would go to Bahadurabad as MQM-P workers “for the sake of unity”.

Former MQM MNA Ali Raza Abidi, who is currently associated with Dr Sattar-led PIB group, in a video statement said that “we all have decided after consultation to go to Bahadurabad headquarters as workers on Friday night and will contest election together”.

Differences within the MQM-P had surfaced on Feb 5 when Dr Sattar had announced boycott of a coordination committee meeting, as his rival had refused to give a party ticket to his favourite, Kamran Tessori, for the Senate elections.

Later, the Bahadurabad group removed Dr Sattar from the position of party convener and appointed Dr Siddiqui as the new party leader. Dr Sattar, however, did not budge. He held his group’s intra-party elections and appointed himself as the convener. The Bahadurabad group challenged the intra-party elections before the ECP that later accepted Dr Sattar’s removal and declared Dr Siddiqui the party convener.

The split cost the MQM-P dearly as the party failed to retain its four seats in the Senate during the March 11 elections. The Bahadurabad group managed to get only one seat, while the PIB faction remained empty-handed, as the PPP bagged 10 of the 12 seats.

Party insiders believed that even if the PIB and Bahadurabad groups managed to reconcile, the two sides could fight again at the time of finalisation of party tickets for the general elections.

Published in Dawn, June 16th, 2018



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