In an allegation far more serious and direct than the previous ones, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) on Friday blamed Pakistan People Party (PPP) for ‘hatching an ugly conspiracy’ to steal its mandate in the next general elections through violence in Karachi.
In an emotionally-charged speech at the National Assembly, senior MQM leader Dr Farooq Sattar alleged that the ruling party had persistently been creating a nexus with terrorists in the city since November 2008.
“It is pre-poll rigging … our mandate is being stolen,” said Sattar. “If it is not the policy of the PPP, then it should remove this impression because there are doubts in my mind.”
Farooq said the PPP leadership started working on this ‘secretive’ plan of depriving the MQM of its mandate back in November 2008.
Violence was a cornerstone of the PPP strategy, Sattar said, without substantiating how the MQM arrived at the conclusion.
It is the first time an MQM leader has come up with such blunt allegations against the ruling party.
Leaders from the Karachi-based party had hitherto been blaming ‘elements within the Sindh government’ to engineer killings of its workers and harassment of Urdu-speaking Muhajir community.
The tirade comes on the heels of an overnight statement by MQM chief Altaf Hussain in which he called for handing over Karachi to the military in an attempt to restore peace.
Sattar said the MQM was being punished through ‘genocide’ and warned the government against a ‘massacre’ of its activists, supporters and voters. “Don’t do it for few seats because if Karachi fails, Pakistan will,” said Farooq before making a series of demands to rid the country’s most populous city of the recent wave of unbridled violence.
Sattar called for the formation of a judicial commission to probe last month’s spate of violence in Kati Pahari and Qasba Colony areas where law enforcers failed to react for five days while terrorists surrounded communities and fired at them indiscriminately.
MQM leaders earlier blamed the Sindh government for deliberately stopping paramilitary forces from taking action because the terrorists were attacking Mohajir-dominated areas.
Sattar also submitted, in the National Assembly secretariat, a list of 500 people he claimed belonged to terror groups or mafias operating in the city.
About 30% of them have political support, he said. The list, however, was not shared with the media.
He also backed calls by other opposition parties to form a parliamentary fact-finding mission for Karachi and urged the government to respect and implement its recommendations.
He also demanded compensation for families of those killed in the violence and revival of community policing under the city government.
Despite facing stiff opposition in the house, Sattar defended Altaf Hussain’s call for military deployment in Karachi, saying the constitution did allow the use of army in extreme cases.
“We asked for sending the army because the police have been highly politicised and is no more effective,” he said.
Earlier, PPP’s Mahmoud Hayat Khan criticised the demand of handing Karachi over to the army, saying if the military was dragged into ‘political matters,’ it would never go back to its duty.
“What was the rationale behind that … what kind of political awareness is this?” Khan asked while critiquing Hussain’s statement.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2011.