KARACHI: One of the most striking features of former Karachi mayor Mustafa Kamal’s explosive press conference last week was his use of the word ‘sahib’ for a man he had referred to as ‘bhai’ for 29 years.
“I have stopped calling him Altaf bhai because there is no bhai wala relationship now,” Kamal told The Express Tribune in an interview on Saturday afternoon. But the tirade against the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief seems to have toned down, at least until Kamal’s next press conference likely to take place this week.
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The former nazim along with another disgruntled leader, Anis Kaimkhani, returned to the country on Thursday after their departure in 2013. Settling in a rented house on Khayaban-e-Sehar in DHA with media vans lined outside, Kamal appeared less aggressive than Thursday.
When asked if he considers Altaf Hussain a criminal, Kamal suddenly became quiet and refused to give a direct answer.
It was in the year 1987 that Kamal joined the MQM after a neighbour insisted. He was only in class nine and his family was opposed to the decision. “I saw Altaf for the first time at Abbasi Shaheed Hospital,” he recalled. “Like a common worker, I was impressed by him.”
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But as Kamal climbed the ranks and files within the party, the drawing room discussions frustrated him. The former nazim talks especially about the era of 2008 to 2013, when the party kept on leaving and then re-joining the Pakistan Peoples Party-led Sindh government.
“I was a loyal to him. I could have done anything for him. But there was not one issue, there were many issues why I left the party,” he said. “People were dying without any reason. Day and night, the man did not remain in his senses. I trusted and believed but my trust was shattered many times.”
Kamal says he was also tired of defending Altaf. “If I continued to stay in the MQM, I would have remained gunahgaar [sinner].” He was quick to clarify, however, that he will not speak ill of other party leaders as he was close to them.
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It was on the fourth day of Eid in 2013, when he packed his bags and left the country, settling with his family in an affluent neighbourhood of Dubai, and started working for Bahria Town.
His recent arrival to the city’s political landscape created hype and Kamal flushed as he mentioned the overwhelming response they have received. “I have 505 unread text messages and 58 missed calls,” he pointed to his phone. “I haven’t had the time to see who is contacting me. People keep coming and supporting me.”
His temporary abode has coloured printed pictures with ‘Mustafa Kamal Zindabad’, and ‘Salute’ written with a pen pasted on the walls. Anchors and reporters throng the moderately furnished house for his interviews. Outside a police van is on the lookout.
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When asked if he has the support of Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad, who is another estranged MQM member, Kamal’s denial was not very convincing. “If the governor was supporting me, I would have gotten [security] protocol from him from the airport,” he said. “There is no one with me.” His newly formed party remains nameless and so do the names of people joining it. Kamal refused to share these details, promising another explosive press conference, likely to be held on Monday (today). He did share his determination to stay. “I have a bigger plan. It will be glory for Pakistan.”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 7th, 2016.
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