KARACHI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Farooq Sattar hinted that the MQM would have “no problem” supporting former president Pervez Musharraf by not fielding a candidate against him in Karachi for the 2013 elections.
Speaking during an exclusive interview to Express 24/7, Sattar indicated that the MQM’s support for the self-exiled former president stemmed from Musharraf’s close relations with MQM chief Altaf Hussain and the party. He added that Musharraf’s “nurturing” of democracy and support for the local government system was a clinical factor behind MQM’s support for the former president.
Despite indicating possible political support, Sattar emphasised that Musharraf should think “100 times and more” before taking a decision to return to Pakistan — given the significant threat to his life.
PPP-MQM love affair
Responding to a question on whether the repeated formation and breakup of a coalition with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) was hurting the MQM’s credibility, Sattar said that the decision to join the coalition was taken in order “to give stability, economy and democracy a chance in Pakistan”.
Sattar said that the MQM-PPP coalition would survive through conducting regular talks between the two parties. He reiterated that the MQM had joined the government with “good intentions” and wanted to be “optimistic” about the relationship.
Karachi’s ‘criminal nexus’
Sattar warned that a “civil war-like” situation was being plotted in Karachi to benefit a criminal nexus including an “underworld syndicate” that had links with extremist elements such as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan who have entered Karachi from Swat, Malakand and South Waziristan. Sattar claimed that transactions worth billions of rupees were being made to sponsor terrorism in the country’s northern areas. He added that land and weapon mafias, along with religious parties, were also involved in violence — all of whom were benefitting from chaos in the city.
Sattar asserted that there were some “criminal elements” across “certain political parties” that were triggering chaos in certain MQM constituencies by handing them over to criminals.
Without specifying names, he said that certain elements in the Awami National Party (ANP) were creating a sense of insecurity amongst the Pashtun in Karachi. He also blamed the People’s Amn Committee (PAC) for creating similar tensions.
Regarding the Supreme Court’s verdict, the MQM leader said that the apex court had identified the root causes of this chronic ailment in Karachi, and had issued directives to the government. “The verdict only mentioned parties named in petitions filed by other political parties,” Sattar said.
Sattar said that former home minister Zulfiqar Mirza’s statements “aggravated the situation in Karachi” and served only to stir up political tension.
Speaking on whether the powers given to Rangers in the metropolis were justifiable, Sattar said that the Rangers’ operations had been “effective” and along with powers of making arrests and conducting investigations, they should also be given the power of prosecution. He also mentioned the MQM’s arrangement with the president that would include expanding the Governor’s rule in controlling the province.
The MQM-H threat
Regarding the Mohajir Qaumi Movement-Haqiqi (MQM-H), Sattar said that 80 per cent of Haqiqi members, including senior leader Amir Khan had reverted back to the MQM, leaving only 20 per cent, which mostly comprised “criminal elements”. He added that the MQM was closely observing how Afaq Ahmed’s release was being managed and how serious allegations against him were being brushed under the carpet. Sattar conceded that his party was exerting pressure on the government and facilitating Afaq Ahmed’s prosecution.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 13th, 2011.
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