KARACHI: Asking Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) workers at a rally in Karachi whether he should return to Pakistan after being away for almost 22 years, Altaf was told that it was for the best that he remained in London.
MQM deputy convener Farooq Sattar, speaking on behalf of MQM workers responded to Altaf’s question on whether he should return to Pakistan, that it was the general consensus among party workers and loyalists that Altaf should remain where he is.
Altaf claimed that despite living in exile for close to 22 years, he was the only leader who was in touch with his people and workers almost day and night throughout the time he has been outside Pakistan.
The MQM chief was speaking to members of the Coordination Committee, elected representatives, organisational departments, and sector and unit officials gathered for his highly-anticipated telephonic address in Karachi.
MQM to partake in long march
MQM will take part in Tahirul Qadri’s long march because no law prevents us from criticising the government while being a part of it, said Altaf.
Criticising the government for abolishing local bodies, Altaf said MQM accepted the decision despite its reservations and hence the government should not object to MQM taking part in the long march.
Calling local government system the “primary school for breeding democracy,” Altaf said abolishing such a system will be detrimental to democracy in the long run.
He said the commissionerate system cannot help solve day-to-day problems.
The MQM chief lamented that local government system was implemented in Sindh during dictatorships and not during the rule of democracy.
Questioning the democratic agenda of other political parties, the MQM chief asked why only his party raises concerns against the abolishment of local government and not others.
Hitting back against the critics of the local government system instituted in Sindh last September, Altaf said that those against the system were against democracy and such their calls to protect democracy were hollow.
He warned that if the government does not listen to Urdu speaking Sindhis on local government, then they would be forced to call for a division of Sindh.
“We have been tolerating these threats, we do not want a division of Sindh, don’t push us against the wall.”
‘We are not power hungry’
Referring to threats of removing Sindh governor Dr Ishratul Ebad, an MQM member, Altaf said that they were not power hungry and that they can remove the governor if they wanted to.
“Remove the governor if you want. Do you think we are hungry for power? We are hungry for rules, for justice, for bread for the poor.”
Taking on the critics of dual nationality, Altaf said that those who are forced to leave their country and seek asylum in other countries, getting a different nationality is their legal compulsion.
He pointed towards members of PPP’s leadership which have remained outside Pakistan for years, and Nawaz Sharif who along with members of his family were forced to lived in a Saudi palace for eight years after being exiled by former president Pervez Musharraf. He asked why are they still considered patriots and loyal to Pakistan?
“They say that Nawaz Sharif never took Saudi nationality, but what can I do if Saudi rulers are not my friends? That after the 1992 operation, no Saudi ruler gave me a palace to live in.”
The MQM chief asked that if one is forced to take up the nationality of another country under asylum, does that put his loyalty to his home country under doubt?
Altaf eluded to the British passport of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and read out the oath that Jinnah had taken as the Governor General of Pakistan that said that the governor general would be a representative of the king. This, the MQM chief pointed out, was Jinnah’s legal compulsion at the time since that was the only law under which he could take oath.
“Anyone who takes up nationality in another country under asylum is their legal compulsion. But just as Jinnah’s legal compulsion never cast doubts on his patriotism or loyalty to Pakistan, how can the loyalty of those be doubted who took oaths for citizenship when seeking asylum?”