Elections 2018: MQM-P stands divided

Published: February 13, 2018
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Faisal Subzwari cries as he and Mayor Wasim Akhtar come face to face with Farooq Sattar, who is heading the PIB Colony faction. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS

Faisal Subzwari cries as he and Mayor Wasim Akhtar come face to face with Farooq Sattar, who is heading the PIB Colony faction. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS

KARACHI: Dr Farooq Sattar’s plan to unite various factions of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement – Pakistan (MQM-P) before the general elections later this year ended up in the party being divided.

Where the Raabita Committee had been adamant to enter the election campaign with current organization position, Sattar remained unyielding in his quest to find unity among the factions. Both Sattar and Aamir Khan-led groups will base their campaign on Muhajir politics.

Sattar will officially contact PakSarzameen Party, Muhajir Qaumi Movement and Muhajir Ittehad Tehreek for a political and electoral alliance since behind the scene consultations have been completed.

However, a spokesperson for Sattar refuted all claims of an alliance. He insisted that Sattar was not working on any formula nor had he caused any division in the party, adding that the RC was responsible for the split because it was working for its own vested interests.

PSP leader Waseem Aftab also denied any possibility of an alliance between his party and MQM-P. He said the rumours were untrue.

Sources in MQM-P maintain that the efforts to establish alliance with PSP had begun in October 2017 with a breakthrough on November 8, 2017 when Sattar and PSP chief Mustafa Kamal announced electoral alliance – which gravely backfired.

MQM-Pakistan factions fail to bury the hatchet

Within one day, the two parties developed differences and the implementation of the alliance came to a halt.

According to sources, Khan sternly opposed the announcement. Sattar, sensing a revolt within MQM-P, put an end to the formula but temporarily. Issues between Khan and Sattar were resolved in a meeting on December 17, 2017.

However, sources say Sattar resumed contacts with PSP in January 2018. A spokesperson of the Khan-led group said Sattar was single-handedly making decisions, adding that one of the many reasons of the split is a possible alliance between MQM-P and PSP.

Where Sattar believes a unified MQM sans London will save the party’s votebank, Khan opposed the idea. He voiced his opinion in RC meetings, insisting that MQM-P will not form political or electoral alliances with any party.

Khan told Sattar that Kamran Tessori was accepted to respect the latter’s wishes but the idea of an alliance may result in parting ways.

Sources said the recent differences emerged due to this formula and was aggravated because of Senate candidate nominations – ultimately leading to a split.

Both the groups are now considering a legal fight before the election commission and in courts to trademark party name and symbol. Once the party name and symbol is in their hands, they will rewire the organisational structure. The group that loses the name and symbol will register with a similar one.

If the Sattar-led group succeeds in the legal fight, it will then contact the election commission to disqualify Mayor of Karachi Waseem Akhtar – who has joined hands with Khan. Sattar has set-up a temporary office in PIB Colony where he will assign duties to workers.

Meanwhile the Khan-led RC has decided to contact local bodies representatives to bring them into the fold. It has also intensified contacts within the organizational office bearers and will soon announce a workers meeting.

A majority of the workers, sources said, are unhappy with the on-going situation and have decided to sit at home.

Timeline: MQM-Pakistan rift over Senate nominations

Both groups are contacting the party’s parliamentarians to ensure senate seats. The Sattar-led group claims to have secured at least 25 MPAs while the Khan-led group says it has the support of at least 24. Sattar is also in contact with PSP, Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) while a Pakistan Peoples Party leader has reached out for cooperation in Senate elections.

Sattar is expected to succeed in cooperation with different political parties on senate elections. The Khan-led group will also decide on resuming contacts with PSP and other parties in regards to Senate elections.

Sources in Islamabad are keenly observing the political turmoil in Karachi due to the split in MQM-P – however Islamabad does not intend to support any particular group rather they will provide equal opportunity for political activities. Any group creating law and order situation will be strictly dealth with.

The federation is also observing whether the division of MQM-P can benefit MQM-London – adamant that the London group shall not be allowed to do politics. Action will be taken against any group which is in contact with MQM-L.

Sources in PML-N said political contacts between MQM-P may be strengthened in future.

 

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