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Altaf wants army to act against corrupt leaders

August 23, 2010

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KARACHI, Aug 22 In a surprise move, Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain said on Sunday that “the MQM will openly support the patriotic generals if they take any martial law-type action against corrupt politicians and feudal lords”.

In a telephonic address from London to a workers' convention at the MQM headquarters here, Mr Hussain criticised the politicians, 'feudal lords' and army generals and also lashed out at the United States for what he called supporting the feudal lords instead of the masses.

A few hours after the address, MQM leader Farooq Sattar told a private news channel that Mr Hussain had not supported imposition of martial law, but rather issued a policy statement that reflected his 'courageous' stance. “The country is in the ICU (intensive care unit) and needs surgery,” Mr Sattar said.

Referring to the country's chequered political history, Mr Hussain said the army generals had in the past directly or indirectly ruled Pakistan through martial laws, in clear violation of the mandate of millions.

“If these generals can topple political and democratic governments they can also take steps to weed out corrupt politicians and feudal lords.”

The MQM chief called upon “patriotic army generals” to stop supporting the feudals and corrupt politicians for the sake of the country. Action against corrupt politicians should be taken irrespective of which party they belonged to.

He said that at a time when the country's integrity was at risk, well-known and senior politicians were playing a game of musical chair and trying to make it to the corridors of power.

Mr Hussain also criticised the country's foreign policy and said it was ineffective compared to that of neighbouring India.

He said that during foreign trips Pakistani leaders and diplomats spent more time in shopping than in meeting world leaders and diplomats. In contrast, the Indian leaders pleaded their case in a far more effective manner.

The MQM chief said the war in Afghanistan was mainly between the Soviet Union and the United States, but in Pakistan it was portrayed as a conflict between Islam and the evil.

During the war, army generals and the so-called religious forces pocketed plenty of money. After the war, the army did nothing to change the country's foreign policy, Mr Hussain said.

He said the army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) should decide once and for all that Pakistan would make no compromises over its sovereignty and integrity and that US dictations would be ignored.

About the worst calamity in Pakistan's history, he said although many towns and villages had been wiped out, feudal lords had used their clout to divert floodwaters to save their own land. “Such feudal lords committed a crime against humanity and they should be tried for mass murder.”

He said he would like to ask where the funds donated by the international community after the 2005 earthquake had gone. “Why didn't the government buy helicopters which would have been useful in providing relief to the flood-affected people now?”

He lauded the role of the army and said its personnel were doing their best to save their fellow countrymen affected by the calamity.

Mr Hussain said Pakistan desperately needed a change and the MQM could bring about that change and take action against corrupt leaders and feudal lords.

He asked US President Barack Obama to review his policies towards Pakistan.