KARACHI: The heat has been building since November 28 when the Supreme Court called for electoral constituencies to be redrawn in Karachi in a bid to ease the homicide rate. On Sunday, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) came out with all its fury, demanding that the judges apologise for “insulting people of the city”.
“It is not the job of the judges to decide electoral constituencies,” said MQM chief Altaf Hussain, speaking to tens of thousands of people at a congregation. “The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is responsible for that.”
Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry should take suo moto notice of the special Supreme Court bench, which made irresponsible remarks on the delimitation of constituencies while hearing a case on the poor law and order in the city, he said.
In a speech laden with references from Islamic scriptures, he said that the MQM’s enemies were using the Supreme Court to wipe out his party. “The order is against democracy. Only people have the right to decide which party holds a majority.”
Redrawing constituencies will not improve the law and order but would worsen it, he said, adding that a similar order should have been passed for other parts of the country.
“Why don’t the judges redraw constituencies of the feudal lords who have made constituencies according to their wishes and have been ruling their constituents for generations?”
The MQM will not let anyone infringe on the democratic right of the people, he said. “The judges have violated Article 25-B of the Constitution. The article says all citizens are equal in the eyes of the law,” he said.
Altaf Hussain said that new constituencies cannot be made in any case before the census. “The Delimitation Act of 1974 says first a census has to be conducted. Even the [Supreme Court] order violated that law.”
The Supreme Court bench ordered the election commission to complete the delimitation of constituencies in Karachi in a way that no party can have a ‘monopoly’, which was against the law and the Constitution, he said.
“No judge has the right to order the election commission to stop a party from having a ‘monopoly’. It is the right of the people to give a mandate to a party.”
He asked legal experts and the media to decide if the Supreme Court order was fair. “Do you want people in Karachi to shout slogans for freedom as well? Don’t take us as weak.”
He quoted a former chief of army staff who had said ahead of the 1992 operation against the party that Hussain’s ‘chapter has closed’. He thundered in response: “Altaf Hussain is alive.”
Other party leaders said that the MQM believes it is being cornered to make way for other political forces in its stronghold of Karachi. “For us this order is just a manifestation of some greater plan and we will resist it,” said a leader on the sidelines of the gathering.