Thousands of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) supporters and workers pledged allegiance to their party chief during the MQM’s 32nd foundation day celebrations here on Friday.
The Jinnah ground, near the party’s headquarters at Nine-Zero in Azizabad, was jam-packed with workers and supporters on Friday evening. Those who could not fit in the ground spilled over into nearby lanes as the party claimed it was their largest ever congregation for a foundation day event.
The huge turnout dispelled notions of a deepening split within the party following the emergence of a splinter group led by former Karachi mayor and MQM Senator Mustafa Kamal. Kamal, since his return to Pakistan earlier this month, has seen a number of senior party leaders defect.
MQM’s Senior Deputy Convener Dr Farooq Sattar said that despite facing numerous challenges during the three decades of its existence, the party was standing resolutely. Now, the senior leader said pointedly, the party is facing a new challenge which seeks to distract workers from the vision of the party.
Without naming any person or group, Sattar said that instead of playing on someone else’s wicket and pitch, they will play on their own. He complained that allegations of funding from Indian spy agency RAW were being levelled after they had secured the mandate during local government elections, adding that the party had rejected the allegations repeatedly.
“Where ever allegations are levelled, in the media or court, we will face them and address them there,” he added.
During his speech, Sattar presented a resolution asking workers to remain united. He then casually took an oath of allegiance (Tajdeed-e-Ehd-Wafa) from the workers on their loyalty to the party’s chief and for not letting the sacrifices of slain workers go be in vain.
Other points in the resolution included a demand for removing a media ban on the party’s chief, creating 20 provinces in the country, restoring powers of mayors and elected local government representatives and to hold a census in the country.
Earlier, other party leaders — mainly unfamiliar faces to the media — also addressed the crowd. They lashed out at dissidents and spoke about slain party workers and those currently languishing in prison.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 19th, 2016.
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