ISLAMABAD / KARACHI: Ruling in favour of Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has removed Dr Farooq Sattar as convener of the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM-P).

The ECP on Monday ruled on petitions filed against Sattar in the wake of a rift within the party over the nomination of Kamran Tessori for a Senate seat. This controversy over Tessori practically divided the party into Satter-led PIB group and Siddiqui-led Bahadurabad group.

The Bahadurabad faction later filed petitions in the ECP, seeking removal of Sattar as convener with the argument that the party’s Rabita Committee had replaced him with Siddiqui by a two-thirds majority. It also challenged the Feb 18 intra-party polls which Sattar had won with a heavy margin.

In his reply to the petitions, Sattar had challenged the ECP jurisdiction in intra-party matters and asked it to dismiss the petitions filed against him.

Sattar had maintained that the ECP did not have authority to intervene in intra-party rifts, adding that the petitions were rooted in internal conflict. He had asked the commission to resolve the matter according to the party’s constitution.

However, on Monday an ECP, bench headed by Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Sardar Muhammad Raza, ruled in favour of Siddiqui, the Bahadurabad faction chief.

ECP rejects MQM-P Bahadurabad’s plea seeking temporary suspension of Sattar, Siddiqui

Sattar’s media talk

Reacting to the verdict, Sattar later called the ECP decision a ‘dark act’. He questioned whether intra-party matters fell within the ECP purview and claimed that the ECP had never delivered a verdict on an intra-party rift before.

He said the ECP had earlier dismissed petitions by Justice (retd) Wajeeh Uddin Ahmed and Akbar S Babar against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and declared that intra-party feuds did not fall within the commission’s jurisdiction. Sattar said both had been told to approach courts.

Alleging that the decision was ‘rigged’, Sattar said he had been punished for parting ways with MQM founder Altaf Hussain. “I am being punished for saving the MQM-P,” he said.

Sattar claimed the real objective was not to detach the party from its founder, but to decimate the MQM-P. “A conspiracy is under way to eradicate the MQM-P,” he said.

Satter claimed the conspiracy was laid out to divide the MQM-P’s vote bank in the forthcoming general elections “to ensure there is no one voice and one stakeholder in Karachi or Sindh”.

“Constituencies will be distributed amongst the PTI, the Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) and other parties while the remaining will be given to Bahadurabad’s kite – the same kite which has been snatched from its voters, workers and supporters,” he said.

He claimed that the Bahadurabad faction would contest elections without the support of its workers and lose.

Earlier, Syed Ali Raza Abidi of the PIB faction told reporters that they would challenge the ECP verdict in the top court.

“We will ask Farooq bhai to challenge the decision. The ECP cannot take up intra-party matters,” said Abidi, adding that justice had proved elusive.

Sabzwari reacts

 

Minutes after Sattar’s media talks, a senior leader of MQM-P’s Bhadurabad faction held a news conference outside the party headquarters, saying the ECP declared their stance true.

“The ECP has made it clear which group should have the kite,” said Faisal Sabzwari. “We hope Farooq Bhai will accept the decision as he had pledged to do so.”

Sabzwari, responding to a question, said the Rabita Committee was against division in the party.

He indirectly criticised Sattar’s decisions, saying: “We should not promote or empower individuals… we must take unanimous decisions and make policies with consensus. The MQM is not a property of any specific person, it is now a purely democratic party owned by workers.”

Sabzwari appealed to MQM MPAs, MNAs, senators and all local bodies’ representatives to join hands with them and strengthen the party.

Sattar welcome sans Tessori

Shortly after the announcement, the Rabita Committee of Bahadurabad faction offered Sattar to rejoin the party, but without Kamran Tessori.

“There is no room for Tessori in the MQM,” a senior party leader told The Express Tribune. “But we will welcome Farooq bhai with open arms if he joins us again. We held a meeting after the ECP decision. Most Rabita Committee members have agreed to accommodate Farooq,” he added.