As the din from ongoing political recriminations grows shriller in the country, the Awami National Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz gave acerbic responses to Friday’s marathon speech by Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain.
In a bad cop-good cop routine – more often associated with the government – the Awami National Party (ANP) leadership moved to rubbish allegations levelled at the party while the PPP leadership welcomed the address by Altaf as a step towards reconciliation.
At the same time, the PML-N countered MQM allegations by accusing the party of supporting PCO judges against the spirit of the Charter of Democracy.
At a press conference at the Peshawar Press Club, ANP provincial president Afrasiab Khattak rejected Altaf’s allegations and alleged that the MQM chief had the “blood of Pashtuns on his hands”. Addressing allegations of the ANP misleading Pashtuns, Khattak said that the MQM chief should consider the thoughts of those watching Pashtun bodies from Karachi piling up in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Fata and Balochistan.
“Nobody has killed more Pashtuns than the MQM,” said the ANP leader, adding that the “ANP didn’t need a certificate of patriotism from Altaf Hussain.” He further said that Altaf had ‘verbally abused’ all political parties during his press conference except for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) so that the MQM could get ‘seats’ from them.
Nawaz Sharif in Nawabshah
Chief of his own faction of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) Nawaz Sharif turned the tables on the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) leader Altaf Hussain on Saturday, accusing his party of supporting PCO judges against the spirit of the Charter of Democracy. “Altaf Hussain should know that the CoD was signed before the action on Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. We signed it in 2006 and the CJ’s [restoration] movement began in 2007,” Nawaz said, while briefing the media in Benazirabad on Saturday.
Responding to his party’s position on the Karachi violence, Nawaz praised the Supreme Court for taking the suo motu notice of the violence. “The faces behind the bloodshed in Karachi should be unmasked and brought to justice.”
Nawaz also emphasised the need to ‘do away’ with politics in order to restore peace in Karachi. “There should be no politics. Forget politics and save Pakistan,” he said.
Challenge to return
ANP leader Senator Zahid Khan said there was a shadow of fear around Altaf Hussain during his press conference, adding that he acted like “a person who does not know what to say.” He further said that if anyone had any allegations against the ANP they should come to the courts.
Khan said in response to Altaf Hussain’s statement on “foreign powers” working against Pakistan, adding that the MQM chief himself was a national of one of the powers he had mentioned. “Altaf should tear up his passport and documents and return to Pakistan if there was such a conspiracy,” he said.
Responding to the MQM chief’s statement that his party did not put up containers in the city on May 12, Khan said the MQM had its own home minister in place at that time and that the ports and shipping minister was from their party too. “The containers were taken from Port Qasim. The ports and shipping minister was from the MQM at that time too,” said Khan.
Reiterating the demand for a probe into the episode of May 12, 2007, he said without investigations into the incident peace could not be established in Karachi.
‘Role in Imran Farooq’s murder’
ANP leader Shahi Syed hit back at Hussain’s speech with an accusation of his own, saying Altaf Hussain was involved in the murder of Dr Imran Farooq, adding that international agencies had proof on the subject. Speaking to the media in Karachi, he said the MQM should focus on national politics.
Rubbishing all claims, Syed said MQM failed to address any of Zulfiqar Ali Mirza’s allegations, even after holding three press conferences, adding that Altaf’s allegations had come because the ANP lawyer had provided solid facts to the chief justice during the suo motu hearing.
Welcoming the address by the MQM chief, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) termed Hussain’s speech as a positive and important step towards democracy and the strengthening of its institutions. “Altaf Hussain is a key political figure and MQM is crucial for strengthening and continuation of democracy,” said senior PPP leader Fauzia Wahab.
The PPP leader believed that Hussain’s speech was an important step forward and crucial for the country’s politics, adding that there was hope in the PPP camp that MQM would soon return to the government as a coalition partner and play a positive role in the strengthening of democratic institutions.
(Additional input from Peer Muhammad in Islamabad and Manzoor Ali in Peshawar)
Published in The Express Tribune, September 11th, 2011.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ