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In a dramatic development just a day before polls for 50 per cent seats of the Senate, two factions of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM-P) on Friday apparently buried the hatchet and announced their joint candidates.
After background contacts, Dr Farooq Sattar of what is now called the PIB-faction and Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui of the Bahadurabad-group announced the names of their five candidates, who will be contesting the elections from the MQM platform.
Dr Sattar and Siddiqui announced this at a joint press conference. Their joint list of candidates includes Kamran Tessori, whose nomination for Senate was the main bone of contention between the two groups of the Karachi-based party.
The other candidates include Barrister Farogh Naseem and Abdul Qadir Khanzada, who will contest the elections for the general seat while Dr Nighat Shakeel and Sanjay Perwani will contest polls respectively, for the women seat and the minority seat.
ECP rejects MQM-P Bahadurabad's plea seeking temporary suspension of Sattar, Siddiqui
The Sindh Assembly is all set to vote for the Senate elections on Saturday [today].
Already facing challenge from Mustafa Kamal led Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP), the MQM was further divided into PIB and Bahadarabad groups last month due to internal differences over award of party tickets to the Senate candidates.
These differences reached a critical point on February 6 when the Rabita Committee members appointed Siddiqui as its convener in place of Sattar. In retaliation, Sattar dissolved the Rabita Committee and announced fresh intra-party elections that were held on February 17.
Despite several attempts to iron out the differences, the deadlock persisted and later both the factions nominated separate candidates. Around 14 candidates had filed nominations from both sides with each group claiming to be the legitimate party. Mustafa Kamal’s PSP has another four candidates in the run.
Had the MQM-P factions not reached a patch-up, both the groups would have had lost since the Senate elections are held through a complex method – called proportional representation – involving single transferable vote system. In this method, parties form groups of MPAs who vote in order of priority.
In his remarks at the joint press conference, Dr Farooq Sattar said he hoped the two sides would soon reach out agreement on status of Rabita Committee to keep party’s vote bank intact.
Siddiqui in his remarks explained that the controversy started after the Bahadurabad group's nominee for the general seat, Farogh Naseem, was declined ticket and Dr Sattar nominated Tessori on the seat.
However, despite their difference both sides showed magnanimity and restrained from bashing each other publicly. "We are one family and we would move as a family," he remarked.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) earlier in the day rejected interim relief sought by Bahadurabad faction in petitions filed against Dr Sattar.
The commission resumed hearing petitions filed by Bahadurabad group. One of the petitions sought removal of Sattar as convener by a two-third majority of the Rabita Committee and his being replaced with Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui.
The other challenged the February 18 intra-party elections held under the leadership of Sattar – an election that he won by a heavy margin to become the party convener. During the proceedings, Farogh Naseem of the Bahadurabad faction requested the commission to clear confusion on the party chief issue.
However, the commission observed that since Dr Sattar had challenged jurisdiction of the ECP in his reply to the notice, it could not pass any orders until that matter was resolved. It adjourned the proceedings till March 7.
Naseem in his arguments urged the ECP for interim relief by temporarily suspending both Sattar and Siddiqui as convener and allowing the MQM-P lawmakers to cast their votes as per their discretion in the upcoming Senate elections.
Reflecting on the Sattar-led group’s intra-party elections, Naseem informed the court that the party’s constitution outlined that intra-party elections were to be held every four years. He pointed out that since the party held elections in 2016, they will not due until 2020.