Two days after former Sindh senior minister Zulfiqar Mirza launched an extensive diatribe against them, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) decided to return the favour in kind, with a press conference where they used strong language to counter Mirza’s allegations and even went on to question the state of his mental health.
“The monstrous allegations made by Mirza about an alleged US plot to break up Pakistan with the MQM’s help is as laughable as it is grave,” said Faisal Subzwari, a member of the Sindh Assembly from Karachi, while addressing a press conference organised at Nine-Zero, the party’s headquarters.
Subzwari rubbished Mirza’s account of a meeting he allegedly had with MQM chief Altaf Hussain, where the party leader allegedly admitted to collaborating with the US government in a secret plan to break up Pakistan. He questioned nearly every detail, including why the MQM chief would grant Mirza a private audience by asking senior MQM leaders such as MNA Farooq Sattar and Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad to leave the room.
“This would mean that the people who had been working with Hussain for many years were not worthy of his trust, and those who were meeting with him for the first time were so reliable that he could hold highly confidential talks with them,” stated Subzwari. “This is nothing but slander and a white lie.”
Subzwari characterised Mirza’s outburst as being deliberately designed to divert attention from the Supreme Court’s hearings on the violence in Karachi. The apex court bench began hearings on its suo motu case in Karachi on Monday.
The MQM leader challenged Mirza to prove his allegations in court. The former senior minister volunteered to present evidence in court, though only if he was summoned.
Even as Subzwari issued an almost point-by-point refutation of every statement made by Mirza against the MQM, he said that the party respects President Asif Ali Zardari and the electoral mandate of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, of which Mirza is still a member. Subwari described Mirza as an ‘extremist’.
At one point, Subzwari described the MQM as the party of people “who left their homes, belongings and memories of their ancestors for their cherished homeland,” implying that the MQM was a party of ethnic muhajirs.
In other instances, however, particularly when refuting Mirza’s allegations of the MQM being in favour of the killing of people from other ethnicities, Subzwari pointed to the MQM’s ethnic diversity. He pointed specifically to Gulfaraz Khan Khattak, a Pakhtun, who is a member of the party’s central coordination committee. On Sunday, Mirza has accused the MQM of being complicit in the killings of Pakhtuns in Karachi.
The MQM leader also appealed to his party’s supporters and sympathisers for calm, asking them not to respond violently to what he described as ‘inflammatory and absurd allegations’. The appeal for calm, also made by the party’s governing body on Sunday, seems to have been working: contrary to public expectation, Mirza’s outburst was not met with a violent reaction across the country’s financial capital.
Subzwari also levelled several counter-allegations against Mirza, blaming him for trying to create disputes between Karachi’s muhajir and Baloch populations.
“There was never any dispute between muhajirs and the Baloch in Karachi before Zulfiqar Mirza became Sindh home minister,” said the MQM leader.
The party leader also blamed Mirza for the extortion-related violence in Karachi, including the massacre at the Sher Shah scrap market.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 31st, 2011.