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Taliban’s Pakistan or Jinnah’s Pakistan: MQM puts off referendum

November 10, 2012

MQM Chief Altaf Hussain. – File Photo

KARACHI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Rabita Committee has announced that the public referendum which was announced to be held throughout the country on November 14 has been postponed in respect to Muslim holy month of Muharram.

The decision to put off the referendum has been taken in a joint meeting of the Rabita Committee in London and Pakistan, said a statement issued by the MQM on Saturday.

“Our co-ordination committee has decided to further extend the date of the referendum in respect of the month of Muharram,” said the statement after the referendum was postponed for a second time.

MQM chief Altaf Hussain has also endorsed the decision of the Rabita Committee, it added.

The MQM body noted that party leaders, elected representatives and other office-bearers would be busy in meeting with religious scholars in order to ensure inter-faith harmony during the holy month.

The unofficial nationwide “referendum” was to ask people whether they want their country to follow the ideology of the Taliban or the vision of the nation's founder.

The MQM, an ally of the ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP), wanted the referendum to highlight people's sentiments against the Taliban.

The party did not provide a future date for the poll, which had originally been scheduled for November 8 but was first delayed because of a defence products' exhibition in Karachi.

MQM has been openly critical of the Pakistani Taliban, and earlier this month the Islamist militants threatened to attack the party. But MQM denied that the activity was being postponed due to the threats.

“This is not true that the referendum is being delayed because of the recent threats,” Wasay Jalil, a spokesman for the party told AFP.

The Taliban earned condemnation across the country last month when they tried to murder schoolgirl activist Malala Yousafzai in the northwestern area of Swat for promoting girls' rights to education.

Pakistan has been convulsed by Islamist and sectarian violence in recent years, with more than 5,200 people killed since July 2007 in suicide attacks and bombings across the nuclear-armed nation.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah, commonly referred to as “Quaid-e-Azam” or Great Leader, founded Pakistan as a homeland for Muslims in 1947 in the partition of British India.

He is viewed by most Pakistanis as a tolerant leader who wanted a progressive modern Islamic state with religious freedom for all sects and religions, something which is contrary to the Taliban's ideology of Islam– APP/AFP