How the mighty fall

14 MQM MPAs voted against the party while three refused to cast votes in Senate elections


Naeem Khanzada March 05, 2018
MQM-P leader Farooq Sattar. PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI: Amid the rifts between its various factions, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has suffered greatly. The Senate elections proved that a divided MQM is one lacking power.

Despite Farooq Sattar’s efforts, and sacrifices, Kamran Tessori was not elected to the Senate. The Bahadurabad group failed to win more than a single seat. Even on the day of the Senate elections, members of both groups were divided - three MQM MPAs did not cast their votes, while 14 voted against their party heads’ decisions.

Despite its 38 members in the Sindh Assembly, the once powerful MQM won only a single Senate seat – Barrister Farogh Nasim. The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) swept the elections by bagging 10 seats. The last seat was won by Pakistan Muslim League – Functional , which has only nine votes in the assembly.

The party’s strategy in the Senate elections proved to be rather unsuccessful. Even though the heads of both factions – Bahadurabad and PIB Colony - held a joint press conference in Islamabad following the announcement of the results, neither trusted nor had confidence in each other. This was illustrated on the day of the elections - all the leaders of the Bahadarabad group sat in Leader of the Opposition Khawaja Izharul Hasan’s chamber and gave MPAs directions. The PIB group leaders sat in parliamentary leader Sardar Ahmed’s chamber.

MQM leader Farooq Sattar extends support to PML-N's Mushahid Hussain

According to sources, the factions’ differences came out in the open on election day. Sattar briefly visited Hasan’s chamber but spent most of his time in Ahmed’s chamber with Tessori and other leaders.

The sources revealed that both groups expressed concern when they received information that five female MQM MPAs - Naheeda Begum, Naila Latif, Shazia Farooq, Heer Ismail Soho and Sumita Afzal - cast their votes in favour of PPP leaders and left. Due to this development, consultation between both groups began once again.

While the consultations were under way, both the groups received news that an MPA from Sukkur, Saleem Bandhani, came to the assembly with PPP leader Mukesh Chawala and left after casting his vote. This prompted both factions to scramble to begin lobbying for their respective candidates. The Bahadurabad group started lobbying for Nasim, while PIB began campaigning for Tessori.

According to the sources, the six members of the MQM who cast their votes and left were contacted via telephone by both groups but they did not speak to them. The sources also revealed that Sattar told Kunwar Naveed that if the situation continued, they would not be able to secure a single seat. He asked Naveed to get the MPAs on his side to vote for Tessori, to which Naveed expressed dismay that he was still giving priority to Tessori. He also blamed Sattar for the situation, saying it was due to his poor decisions.

Patch-up or compromise? MQM-P factions announce joint candidates

According to sources, confusion persisted amongst MQM MPAs, some of whom made a deal with the PPP. Around four members marked an X instead of voting for either candidate in protest.

The Senate election debacle widened the rift between the two factions. Some MQM MPAs told Express News that Sattar put the party at risk for Tessori. They said that they were consulting with other party members regarding the MQM’s political future. One group accused Amir Khan and Faisal Sabzwari of being responsible for the entire situation. They claimed that they want to take over the MQM.

Sources have said that in the coming days, MQM leaders are expected to hold important press conferences.

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