KARACHI: Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah’s remarks during the Sindh Assembly session on Tuesday were not well received by all who heard them, especially politicians belonging to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).
He had said that the city was once in the grip of constant fear but was now free of the devils that had earlier held it hostage. Murad censured those who wanted to divide Sindh by carving out a new province.
Reacting to the CM’s tirade, MQM’s parliamentary leader in the National Assembly, Dr Farooq Sattar said if the party decides to demand a south Sindh, no one will be able to stand in their way.
Addressing the media outside Parliament House in Islamabad, he said the CM hurt the sentiments of Mohajirs and that the party condemns his remarks.
“He delivered a hate speech on the entire Mohajir community which has been met by violence and a strong reaction in various parts of the province. However, we are instructing our workers to be patient,” said Sattar. Taking a jibe at the PPP leader, Sattar said that Karachi’s heatwave seems to have taken its toll on the CM.
He demanded an apology within 48 hours and warned of a protest after Taraweeh if the apology is not tendered. Sattar said that Murad’s predecessors opposed the formation of Pakistan, while the PPP sowed the seeds of a Mohajir province with their attitude. With the language and quota system, the foundation of Sindh’s division was laid in 1972 while the lands of Karachi and its resources are being looted.
Earlier, Sattar also took up the issue in the NA on a point of order. Reacting to Sattar’s statement, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah said the PPP was home to people of all ethnicities. “Karachi belongs to the PPP; it is not the property of any [other] party. It is the capital of the province and has also served the country as its federal capital. We welcomed Mohajirs at the time of Partition but I must say that I hate the word Mohajir because migrants often come to go back to their homeland,” he said. He added that whoever makes a call for the partition of Sindh will be cursed. The ones who killed the residents of their own city and destroyed their homes must be ready for rebuttal if they demand a separate province.
Back in Karachi, MQM-Pakistan Bahadurabad Rabita Committee leader Faisal Sabzwari held a press conference on Wednesday, saying the CM’s statements are ‘shameful and disappointing’.
He said voicing a demand for a separate province was not contrary to the Constitution of Pakistan and would not amount to treason in any sense, appealing to the Sindh government to stop its prejudicial attitude towards the citizens of Karachi.
“Are not we entitled to have separate administrative units as per the Constitution of Pakistan?” he demanded, doubting whether the censuring statements made by the CM would apply to those calling for a separate province in southern Punjab, including Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
He added that anti-Sindh groups keep calling for the partition of the country and creation of ‘Sindhu Desh’ under the nose of the CM and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). “They have never been cursed,” said Sabzwari, referring to Murad’s remarks where he cursed those who speak about the division of Sindh. He said the government seems to turn a blind eye to such forces but when citizens voice their demands against the incompetent Sindh government and call for their rights, they are then cursed and silenced.
He lamented that the misrepresenting figures of the census were being considered final even though the audit for 5% of the residential blocks was still left. “The PPP is happy over the census count but the MQM will not remain silent. We will protest against the census and demand that the government publish the census results in the newspapers so that we are clear about how people are being counted in different neighbourhoods of the city,” Sabzwari said.
The press conference was attended by deputy convener Amir Khan, Aminul Haq and Gulfaraz Khan Khattak. Sabzwari went on to say that the PPP has deprived citizens of their right to oversee the city, as the district government had practically no powers. “The ruling party keeps 90% of our budget and is reluctant to hand over the remaining 10% owed to us,” the MQM leader accused, adding that the demands for a separate province had been made in light of the injustice the city had been subjected to. “We do not want to create an unruly atmosphere in the assembly,” he clarified, explaining that Leader of the Opposition Khawaja Izharul Hasan put forward their demands in the best possible manner and in contrast, members of the ruling party attempted to break their microphones.
Sabzwari warned that MQM members will once again fight for their rights in the assembly session today (Thursday). He lambasted the PPP and CM for having turned a blind eye to the issues of Karachi, saying that a journey from the metropolis to the rural city of Dadu will be an eye-opener for many people. “They [PPP] could not even establish a single model union council,” he lamented. “The PPP and CM should instead show their wrath against the attitude, indifference, prejudice, corruption and incompetence prevalent in Sindh. The party that has been reigning on the legacy of their founder should curse the attitude of the authorities who could not even develop the areas adjacent to the grave of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto,” Sabzwari said.
He alleged that the PPP was not a well-wisher of the province as it is silent over 15 million people not being counted in the census. He claimed that this is not an issue of Sindhis versus Mohajirs but of rural and urban Sindh.
“The politics of prejudice must end. The PPP has deprived the urban areas of Sindh. Punjabis and Pashtuns and many others ethnicities live in Karachi but the PPP is responsible for dividing people on the basis of language because it is the PPP that targets this city and urban Sindh on the basis of Mohajir majority areas,” he alleged.
Referring to the remarks of Khursheed, that he does not accept the word Mohajir, Sabzwari said it does not make a difference whether he accepts it or not, explaining that Mohajirs were the ones who came to Pakistan after migrating from India. He accused Khursheed of taking over Mohajirs’ right and property.