Barely 48 hours after shaking up the country’s political landscape with his explosive press conference, former Sindh senior minister Zulfiqar Mirza on Tuesday decided to up the ante, repeating and adding to the many accusations he had previously hurled at the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and Interior Minister Rehman Malik.
Addressing another press conference, this time at the Hyderabad Press Club, Mirza admitted that the average citizen does not have a favourable impression of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party owing to the current administration’s failure to deliver adequate services. He added that a band of ‘sycophants’ surrounded President Asif Ali Zardari – whom he continued to refer to as one of his closest friends – who prevented the president from seeing ‘the truth.’
Among those whom he specifically named as being responsible for the party’s state of affairs was once again Rehman Malik, whom he referred to with words that cannot be printed in this newspaper.
“I say this with sadness that we are not going to give Bilawal a good PPP and a good legacy,” said Mirza, who was once again holding up a copy of the Holy Quran during his press conference.
While his rhetoric had been somewhat harsh even on Sunday, Mirza’s words on Tuesday seemed to reach fever pitch, levelling highly incredible allegations against the MQM, accusing them once again of treason and even going so far as to say that the party was planning on acquiring nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
“The MQM is armed to the teeth with 150,000 AK-47 Kalashnkovs, around 15,000 rocket launchers, anti-aircraft guns, anti-tank mines and mortars and is now in the process of procuring nuclear weapons with the help of Uncle Sam,” said Mirza, making the MQM sound more like a rogue state government than a political party.
He repeated his allegation that the MQM had been willing to work with foreign governments to dismember Pakistan and even work with the United States towards regime change in Iran.
“Uncle Sam was looking for a cruel, ruthless and sordid entity in Pakistan, which would be ready to sell the country’s honour and dignity. They found it in a party which said ‘give me $500 million and finish ISI and we will do whatever you want’, such as allowing Blackwater [a US defence contractor, now called Xe Services] and other groups and also to occupy Iran,” claimed Mirza.
Among the more specific allegations levelled by Mirza was the charge that Babar Ghauri, the former minister for ports and shipping, used his position to divert some of the arms and ammunition meant for Nato forces in Afghanistan towards use by alleged MQM-backed militant and criminal groups.
Mirza cited media reports that several Nato containers have disappeared on their way to Afghanistan as evidence for this startling claim.
He even went so far as to say that the MQM’s attempts to rejoin the ruling coalition – something that the party has so far not been willing to do – were in fact the product of their desire to continue their efforts to use government positions to arms themselves, including, oddly enough, importing Scud missiles, a short-range ballistic missile that became famous for its use by Saddam Hussain during the First Gulf War in 1991.
Mirza also called upon people of all ethnic groups to wage a jihad, though he did not specify against whom. But this call for jihad was interspersed between his comments against the MQM, leading many to believe that his remarks were directed at that party.
“If you do not dare speak up against these criminals who tempt you with the prospect of a completed term, they will bring Uncle Sam and every Tom, Dick and Harry to exploit your land,” he said, in remarks that seemed to be directed towards the leadership of his own party.
Mirza also praised the Interservices Intelligence (ISI) as a ‘well-organised, patriotic and well-trained’ entity that was ‘100% dedicated to the motherland.’
The former Sindh cabinet minister also highlighted the role of Sindhi politicians in the creation of Pakistan, saying that he did not feel the need to be grateful to another ethnic group for the creation of the country.
“It was these same so-called illiterate, stupid, feudal, aristocratic, lazy fat-cats in the Sindh Assembly who voted for the Pakistan Resolution,” said Mirza sarcastically, referring to the pre-Partition support for the creation of Pakistan by the then-provincial legislature in Sindh.
Mirza also claimed that the forefathers of several senior PPP leaders – including the fathers of Hafeez Pirzada, Hussain Haroon and the Khuhro family – were at the forefront of the movement for the creation of Pakistan, and asked what roles the fathers of senior MQM leaders, including Altat Hussain and Farooq Sattar, played in the Pakistan Movement.
When Mirza then opened up the floor for questions, he was asked by Farhan Effendi, the Hyderabad bureau chief for ARY One World, about this, though Effendi conflated Mirza’s questioning of the sacrifices of MQM leaders with that of all muhajirs. Mirza was upset at this mischaracterisation of his remarks and started yelling at Effendi, at which point Mirza’s guards started beating the journalist.
Only when the entire journalist community present protested did Mirza’s guards stop. Under pressure from the reporters, Mirza later apologised for the behaviour of his guards.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 31st, 2011.