Introduction: Altaf Hussain is the founding chief of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). MQM was initially known as the Muhajir Qaumi Movement as it focused on representing the rights of the Urdu speaking/ Muhajir people, who migrated to Pakistan after the independence in 1947.
However in recent years the party has attempted to attract national vote and changed its name to Mutahida Qaumi Movement. The party is the largest political group in Karachi which emerged in the mid 1980’s. Altaf Hussain lives in London and is about to complete his twenty years in self exile.
Biography: Son of a Station Master in Indian Railways; Nazir Hussain, Altaf Hussain was born on September 17, 1953 in Karachi. His parents belonged to a lower-middle class family of Agra, India, who later migrated to Karachi. After his early education in Azizabad; his middle-class neighborhood in the city, Hussain joined the University of Karachi for a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy.
His marriage with Faiza Gabol ended after seven years, following a divorce petition filed by Gabol in late 2007. He has a daughter named Afza Altaf.
Political History: Hussain, started his political career as a student in Karachi University where he founded and established cells of all Pakistan Muhajir Students Organisation (APMSO) in June 11, 1978. The party was a huge success within a span of very short time and won 92 seats in college elections during 1980. However, APMSO was strongly opposed by the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba, the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami.
Born in the midst of ethnic violence, MQM quickly gained national status after a series of electoral victories with Hussain being in the position of strong assertive leadership. However, he never contested for any electoral position.
He remains one of the very first political leaders who brought about a revolutionary change in the mainstream politics by focusing on uneducated minorities and disregarding the feudal rule governing the state of affairs in Pakistan. However, his reputation has been severely damaged due to various allegations which go against his character and disposition.
Several statements were made by his very own party members entailing the dubious way in which he went on an exile and attained political asylum in United Kingdom. Altaf Hussain's party has been blamed for using violent tactics to attain political power during 1980’s and 1990’s. During this time period, Pakistan suffered great distress and Hussain is allegedly blamed to be the prime culprit for them.
It is his strong will, determination and political discourse that has made MQM into a cadre based tightly knit organisation. With almost twenty years in exile, Hussain continues to be seen as a man controlling Karachi – from London. Apart from being a politician, Hussain enjoys cooking and poetry.