KARACHI: Karachi’s political pot came to an abrupt boil with events occurring in a rapid succession. The honeymoon between the MQM-P and Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) did not last even a day as Dr Farooq Sattar first announced he was quitting the party post and politics, only to reverse that decision an hour later, prodded on by his aged mother and party workers.
Farooq Sattar’s decision to quit politics and his own party was prompted by differences within the ranks of MQM-P, especially office-bearers of the party’s Rabita Committee.
Speaking at a hurriedly-called media conference, he said that his confidence was shattered after party workers expressed concern over his leadership skills and resorted to a smear campaign on social media against his decision to forge a political alliance with Mustafa Kamal-led PSP.
Leaders of MQM-P and PSP had announced forming an alliance only a day earlier for the 2018 general elections under “one party, one manifesto and one symbol”.
But this brittle alliance collapsed on Thursday evening after members of MQM-P’s Rabita Committee decided not to give up its distinct political identity, manifesto and party symbol.
“Dr Farooq Sattar is our leader, but MQM-P cannot abandon its unique identity, or its manifesto or its (election) symbol. We will contest the (next) general elections on seats from where the party has emerged victorious in polls,” members of the Rabita Committee said.
The Rabita Committee meeting was chaired by its deputy convener Kunwar Naveed Jameel.
Dr Farooq Sattar opted not to attend the meeting held at the Bahadurabad office. Instead, he held a separate press conference at his PIB Colony residence, conveying a message to the media about “an important announcement”.
Soon after reports of his press conference emerged, a few MQM leaders, including Wasim Akhtar and Faisal Subzwari, arrived at his house and tried to persuade him not to make any “rash decision”, but he did not heed their call.
He said: “I will prefer to live with dignity, now you are free to decide upon your (political) fate,” he said while addressing party workers.
As soon as he uttered these words, workers of MQM-Pakistan started chanting slogans of ‘No Bhai No’, ‘Hum tumhare saath hein” (we are with you), ‘Jeay Mohajir’ and ‘Jeay Muttahida’ and urged him to reverse his decision. There were also cheers for a new ‘Muhajir province’.
But Farooq Sattar refused to heed their calls.
Amid ensuing uproar, Wasim Akhtar, Faisal Subzwari and Kamran Tessori tried to woo him back, asking him to reconsider his decision. He remained adamant. After a few minutes of struggle, he agreed and returned with his mother and announced to take back his decision.
Clarifying his point of view, Dr Sattar said: “I made the decision to quit the party because many party leaders and workers did not trust him.”
He said that he had reconsidered his position only after party leaders went to his house and brought his mother along, pleading him to withdraw his resignation.
“I take back my decision on the order of my mother and will resume my political activities by attending the Chehlum procession … I request authorities concerned to free our (missing) workers and allow us to visit martyrs’ graveyard,” he said.
Earlier, addressing the press conference, Farooq Sattar briefed the media about his political career and compared it with that of Mustafa Kamal, who according to Dr Sattar lived a wealthy life in DHA.
He said that the alliance with Mustafa Kamal’s party “cannot work” because PSP and its leaders no longer subscribed to the “Muhajir cause”.
MQM, he said, still believed in reconciliation which was why it tried to forge an alliance with PSP, whose leaders “insulted Mohajirs, disparaging MQM-P, which is intolerable”.
“If you [PSP] have abandoned Muhajir politics, MQM will carry forward the cause of Muhajir politics, Pakistan and the middle-class,” he said.
Dispelling the impression about negotiations between PSP and MQM lasting the past six months, he said: “I hardly held one meeting with Anees Qaimkhani and two more with Mustafa Kamal,” he said, adding that he had taken members of the Rabitta Committee members into confidence about the alliance.
“If Mustafa Kamal had asked me to give up MQM’s politics, we would not have sat together and announced this alliance,” he said, adding that he and his party leaders could not forget sacrifices rendered by their elders for the creation of Pakistan.
“How can we forget the sacrifices of our workers who laid down their lives for the party’s cause,” he said, adding that MQM would retain its election symbol as well as its political identity.
“MQM’s colours also symbolise emotions of the Muhajir nation and other victims of injustice.”
“Engineered politics can never work, be it in Karachi or elsewhere in Pakistan,” he said. “Politics will take its natural course.”
Sattar said: “MQM-Pakistan is there to stay … (The election symbol of) Kite is our life, Kite is our identity, and we have a constitution.”
He said the MQM-P had considered a working-relationship with PSP only for peace in Karachi, and that the Muhajir vote does not get divided.
“I don’t want my own people to convey their feelings through social media; If there is an issue or any confusion, come talk to me in person,” he had said.
Earlier, the party’s deputy convener, Shahid Pasha, presented a 24-point resolution against the decision, calling for a general workers’ conference and holding intra-party elections.
The resolution observed that decisions taken by “a few” cannot be imposed on the entire party and that the incumbent Rabita Committee be dissolved to resolve the matter.
“Our alliance will remain intact with PSP, but we will contest the elections with (election symbol) kite,” he said.