HYDERABAD: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain has said that liberal and enlightened forces would not let retrogressive forces impose their brand of Sharia on the nation.

The MQM, ANP and PPP were in high spirits for the elections despite terror attacks, the Muttahida chief declared.

“Elections are now a contest between moderate and retrogressive forces,” Mr Hussain said, making it clear that the Muttahida would not boycott the May 11 polls.

He said that only supporters of “terrorist and extremist organisations” were running their election campaigns in Punjab while in the other three provinces, offices of moderate political parties and their candidates were being attacked with bombs and guns.

Addressing a public meeting at the Pucca Qilla ground by telephone from London on Wednesday, he said liberal and moderate forces were now united and those who carried out the bombings were now on the run. The resolve shown by leaders of MQM, ANP and PPP is commendable, Mr Hussain added.

“Gun-toting and self-proclaimed champions of Islam now want to impose their brand of Sharia on the entire nation,” he said.

“If they [forces opposed to MQM] think that we will boycott polls or will find excuses then they are wrong. We will adopt every constitutional and legal path to fight them,” he said.

He said that liberal forces would make the country what Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah wanted Pakistan to be and would not let extremist forces succeed in their agenda.

“Extremists and terrorists must remember that MQM supporters faced Hyderabad carnage (Sept 30,1988) and Oct 31, 1986, killings in Qasba Colony and Ali Garh Colony in Karachi yet they sided with the MQM. Despite atrocities they [workers] have kept MQM alive. Sacrifices of the people of Hyderabad can’t be erased from pages of history,” Mr Hussain said.

He paid tribute to those supporters and workers of PPP, MQM and ANP who lost their lives in recent bomb and gun attacks. He condemned Wednesday’s bomb blast in Shikarpur at a meeting of National People’s Party candidate Dr Ibrahim Jatoi and in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Even in Balochistan, he said, candidates were being attacked.

“Only supporters of extremist organisations are running their election campaigns with ease and peace in Punjab. They are allowed to run campaigns freely while situation is different in three other provinces. Can such elections be called free, fair and transparent,?” he questioned and asked “where is the caretaker government and Fakhru Bhai-led Election Commission of Pakistan”.

He lauded Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani for making a clear and bold statement on the subject of terrorism. He said the army chief had rightly stated that the war against terror is Pakistan’s war and no-one should now have any doubt about it.

The army chief’s statement, he said, must silence those voices who preached the mantra of “this is not our war”.

The MQM chief said that Gen Kayani’s statement reflected sentiments of the entire nation, adding that it was not the war of UK, US or Nato.

“This war directly concerns our country and we have to face and confront it,” he said.

He said that MQM activists would fully back armed forces in their fight against terrorists and extremists.

He said supporters of extremist and terrorist organisations were still adamant that it was a war of the US despite knowing that that Taliban were killing and maiming civilians, personnel of army, police and other law-enforcement agencies.

“It’s a war of survival of Pakistan. Our people are sacrificing their lives, yet it is being dubbed that it is someone else’s war,” the MQM chief said.

He said that neither Quaid-i-Azam nor Allama Iqbal were jihadis, adding that his party wanted Mr Jinnah’s Pakistan where Muslims and non-Muslim had equal rights as citizens and their places of worships were protected.

“We will never surrender before terrorists or those who patronise them,” he said.

He urged the people not to vote for those parties whose leaders wanted to become “Amirul Momineen”, vowing that MQM, ANP and PPP would always challenge them.

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