Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) Chairman Syed Mustafa Kamal and MQM Organisation Restoration Committee founder Dr Farooq Sattar announced on Thursday that their parties would be joining the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P).
The MQM factions reunited ahead of local government elections in Karachi, Hyderabad and Thatta divisions, scheduled for January 15, as their once splintered leaders threw down the gauntlet against contenders PTI and PPP.
The MQM-P had challenged the election commission’s decision for the prospective use of two separate electoral rolls simultaneously but its plea was rejected.
The announcement also came a day after the MQM-P staged a power show in Karachi to protest against the polls and threatened to leave the ruling coalition if its demands were not met.
The MQM-P leaders warned Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to take a clear stand if he had any respect for the rights of the people of urban Sindh or let the party “decide about its future” as a member of ruling Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) coalition.
Addressing today’s press conference in Karachi, Kamal said that Karachi was not liberated from Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) only for PPP Chairman Asif Ali Zardari to take over and “think of it as his”.
“Zardari thinks Bilawal will be the prime minister. He wants to make Bilawal the premier,” he claimed, adding that this would not be possible if the people of Karachi were against him.
He announced that the PSP would be “migrating to the MQM-P”, adding that they would work under Khalid Maqbool, who is the MQM-P convener.
“Yes, we had our differences. We openly expressed differences,” he conceded but said that the people of Karachi would have to “leave their comfort zones”.
“Karachi feeds the entire country. The PTI didn’t do anything. The PPP hasn’t done anything,” he said, adding that Karachi and Sindh would soon witness the results of today’s announcement.
“Today is a very big day,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dr Farooq Sattar said that the people of Pakistan saw hope in the MQM. “We have kept aside all our differences. This is a message for the entire country. We are presenting a united MQM.”
He said that if MQM was given a chance, the $10bn raised by Pakistan at a climate conference in Geneva, could be generated in Karachi.
“We don’t want to dig up the past,” he said, adding that political maturity was the need of the hour. “People should know what the ground reality is. We are making a reformed MQM, a rebranded MQM and we have to let go of the past.”
He said that the MQM had been separated from its past reputation to transform into a party of intellectuals and educated people. He noted that the country was increasingly polarised, saying that Karachi should be “given one chance”.
“MQM should be allowed to fulfil its national responsibility.”
He also lambasted the upcoming local government polls, saying that “MQM will stage the biggest dharna on Sharae Faisal. We will see how the Jan 15 elections will take place.”
He noted that political rivals were saying that the party was taking Karachi back to the past. “We vow to have zero-tolerance for crime, militancy, anti-state activities and violence,” he said, adding that the youth would take the country towards development.
Sattar noted that there had been an uptick in terrorist attacks by the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). “MQM faced the TTP in urban areas. Let us unite and we will defeat the TTP throughout the country.”
“For the next 10 years, we will work under Khalid Maqbool,” he added.
‘Won’t let elections take place on Jan 15’
Khalid Maqbool, meanwhile, said that all those sitting here wished to see Pakistan succeed despite the difficulties of the past five years. He also alleged that the MQM was defeated in the 2018 general elections through rigging.
Talking about the local government polls, he said that the party would contest the elections if delimitation was “fixed” by tonight. “But if it isn’t fixed, then we will fight for our rights.”
At the outset of the press conference, Maqbool lamented the treatment being meted out to the urban areas of Sindh. He noted that there were no jobs available for the people, adding that the situation was getting worse day by day.
The need of the time dictates that “we raise our voice together,” he said.
He said that Karachi was the main source of generating revenue for Pakistan yet a plan was hatched to “snatch the city away from the people who made it”.
“We all had to band together to save it.”