KARACHI: Saleem Shehzad, one of the founding members of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, breathed his last on Sunday at the age of 62.
The political leader died at a hospital in London where he had moved after the 1992 crackdown on the Altaf Hussain-led party. He was admitted to the hospital three days ago when his health suddenly deteriorated.
Wanted in several cases, Shehzad returned to Pakistan in February 2017 after 22 years of self-imposed exile. He was arrested on arrival at the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi. However, he was able to obtain bail from a court and was released in June, later that year.
Several cases have been registered against Shehzad at various police stations of Karachi, including those in Landhi, Jauharabad, Nazimabad, Orangi, North Nazimabad and Mominabad. He was also nominated in the case registered against Dr Asim Hussain for alleged treatment of terrorists at the latter’s hospital.
Once a trusted friend of Altaf, his relations with the party chief ultimately soured and in 2014, the MQM announced that his basic party membership had been suspended due to violations of party discipline. Though the membership was later restored, Shehzad never enjoyed the same power and when the MQM was split into its Pakistan and London factions, he remained completely detached from the London group.
Since then, he tried off and on to stay relevant in the political scene of urban Sindh. However, he did not apparently succeed. When Dr Farooq Sattar and other Pakistan-based MQM leaders dissociated from Altaf after the incendiary speech of the MQM chief on August 22, 2016, Shehzad signalled that he wanted to join MQM-Pakistan. However, it could not happen.
Later, the late political leader announced to form his own party but could not realise his dream. Earlier, this year he also met Pakistan Tehreeke-e-Insaf Chairperson Imran Khan at the latter’s residence in Bani Gala.
Shehzad was twice elected to the National Assembly in the general elections of 1988 and 1990.
On Sunday, leaders of the MQM-P and Pak Sarzameen Party expressed sorrow over Shehzad’s demise.
MQM-P Convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and Rabita Committee members, in a joint statement, expressed grief over Shehzad’s death and prayed for his departed soul. The MQM-P leaders also praised his services for the cause of Muhajirs’ rights.
PSP General-Secretary Raza Haroon and Senior Vice-President Anis Advocate also expressed condolence with his family.
The deceased leader is survived by his widow and four daughters. His last rites will be performed in London on Tuesday.