Minorities under attack: Altaf lines up police, agencies, clerics, judges, army and... fires

Published: September 2, 2012
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MQM chief addresses a conference organised to promote harmony between different sects of Islam. PHOTO: MQM

MQM chief addresses a conference organised to promote harmony between different sects of Islam. PHOTO: MQM

MQM chief addresses a conference organised to promote harmony between different sects of Islam. PHOTO: MQM Altaf’s speech at an interfaith conference organised by the MQM came after a series of statements by him and other party leaders on the increase in the number of attacks on Shias throughout Pakistan. PHOTO: EXPRESS
KARACHI: 

In an impassioned speech that included critiques of clerics and the judiciary, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain asked the Pakistan Army, Inter-Services Intelligence and other agencies to shut up shop if they could not “protect people”.

“Leave them,” Hussain said before turning to his audience, “You have a right to defend yourself by any means.”

Altaf’s speech at an interfaith conference organised by his party in Karachi came after a series of statements by him and other party leaders on the increase in the number of attacks on Shias throughout Pakistan. Several clerics from Karachi as well as other cities of Pakistan such as Quetta, Lahore and Chakwal, were in attendance.

He said his statements had been criticised because he had only supported Shias. “I have also condemned attacks on Sunni clerics. But do tell me of an event where Sunnis have been taken off buses, identified and killed by Shias – I do not believe this has happened.”

Hussain highlighted the alarming trend of uploading footage of such attacks online. In these videos you can clearly hear chants calling Shias non-believers. “I would like to ask the ulema, where is the Inter-Services Intelligence, the Military Intelligence, the Intelligence Bureau, Frontier Constabulary, Rangers, paramilitary forces and law enforcement agencies?” asked Altaf. “If you cannot protect citizens then the country will break into separate parts. Christians will ask for a separate state, then Shias, so will the Barelvis and the Ahle Hadith. What joke is this? Where is the government? Maintaining peace and establishing law and order is the responsibility of the institutions on which billions of rupees and 80% of the budget is spent.”

By making this speech and a number of statements condemning the attacks, Altaf and the MQM have emerged as perhaps the only political entities to have taken such a hard-hitting stance against militancy. This helps the MQM not only strengthen its public claim of being a liberal, secular political party, but will also appeal to voters in Karachi and in areas where there has been little to no political courage shown on the issue. The MQM has a vote bank among members of minority faiths as well as the Shia community in Karachi.

This speech could also strengthen the MQM’s appeal abroad. While Pakistan and its political leadership is often criticised for not doing anything to deter militant groups and attacks on religious groups and minorities, the MQM will stand out. Part of Altaf’s speech was made in English, which certainly helps underscore this point.

Altaf also hit out at the clerics assembled at the event, asking if they would ever practice what they preached. He did not spare the judiciary either, questioning the low conviction rate. “Murderers are arrested, then released and then they say the judiciary is ‘independent’,” Altaf said. “I ask Pakistan’s people to also hold judges accountable … in the same way that they hold their leaders. Ask them why they freed well-known killers.”

Altaf asked clerics to form a committee on interfaith harmony. It features 13 of the clerics who attended the event. They passed a declaration condemning the murders of innocent people of all sects, the killings in Gilgit Baltistan, Quetta, Parachinar and Karachi, the suicide bombings at shrines and the targeted assassinations of clerics. They also termed members of minority faiths as Pakistanis and condemned efforts to destabilise Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 2nd, 2012.

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Reader Comments (27)

  • phoenix mentality
    Sep 2, 2012 - 1:14AM

    “What joke is this? Where is the government?”

    Did he forget that his party is a part of the coalition?

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  • Sep 2, 2012 - 1:16AM

    Although I never liked him, but for once I must concede and say that he is speaking the truth. The Shia genocide in Pakistan is going full force and the concerned people won’t even try to condemn it. Shameful and disgusting.

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  • Hopeful
    Sep 2, 2012 - 1:23AM

    Excellent. I may disagree with many things on MQM, but this is the boldest statement made by any mainstream party. GOOD WORK.

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  • s shah
    Sep 2, 2012 - 1:55AM

    Good for you, Altaf and MQM. Only political party with any guts. Respect!

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  • kanwal
    Sep 2, 2012 - 1:58AM

    I dont personally like him too much but its true that he has shown ten times as much courage than Imran Khan on this and i can salute MQM for this try.

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  • dpd
    Sep 2, 2012 - 2:16AM

    If you consider yourself to be a leader, then go to Pakistan and become a leader. Ranting and raving from the UK does not make YOU to be a leader. Go to PAKISTAN and LEAD the people out of their misery.

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  • Waseem
    Sep 2, 2012 - 2:16AM

    Mr. Altaf, its good that you are provoking all stakeholders on such an important issue. so thanks. but why are you playing ghost? why you are out of country for past 20 years? if you are honest, come back to Pakistan and fight for the rights of people. this duality of your face makes people very confuse.

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  • AnisAqeel
    Sep 2, 2012 - 2:43AM

    Thank you Altaf Bhai, if sense prevails it is only with MQM and we appreciate your efforts to keep Pakistan united and your blunt, patriotic and true stance on keeping our beloved country in one piece.
    Constitution should be either completely be formed anew or brought back to the day first situation and all amendments created to please certain fanatic and extremist groups to gain political upper hand be deleted.
    We have severe problems and contradictions in the constitution where a non Muslim Pakistani can’t become a head of state or where state has to decide the faith of any person whether he is Muslim or what he is!

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  • Sep 2, 2012 - 4:01AM

    Very well said and great initiative.

    There is no more room for dishonest apologist excuses for sectarian and overall religious extremism.

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  • Luciferous
    Sep 2, 2012 - 5:05AM

    Can anyone identify the watch he is wearing?
    Looks like a high end Rolax with Gold strap; price range of about $20K to $25K minimum!
    Not that I am jealous; he must have bought it with cash earned by shedding tears, sweat and blood!

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  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Sep 2, 2012 - 6:51AM

    Altaf Bhai is right about everything he says but the problem is that leaders sitting in Pakistan have no courage to fight the evil. Therefore we request him to return to Pakistan and lead us at this critical point in history.

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  • Free
    Sep 2, 2012 - 6:58AM

    Atleast one sane voice from Pakistan!!

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  • Ijaz Mir
    Sep 2, 2012 - 7:12AM

    Altaf Bhai what you have done now, after your statement all sunni and TTP will vote for Imran Khan. rest will vote for Mqm and others.. Now we have to vote on srcretarian basis, Ya Allah help this run away Pakistan. Altaf yoiu are party to this goverment. please stop playing games with us.

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  • Sep 2, 2012 - 7:15AM

    many Pakistanis have the perception of MQM as a party responsible for the killings and violence in Karachi .
    MQM has seen much more maturity and has vehemently condemned the sectarian killings and also criticized the law enforcement agencies . A strong and sane voice is heard. Even if this is aimed at ensuing general election it is a positive step and surely they will get benefit out of it. Also probably some other organisations may come forward to protest( who were mum or publicly inactive due to fear of wrath on them by the sympathizers of such killings, and put pressure on law enforcement agencies too to arrest and punish the culprits.one single incident of punishment will instill faith in the government.

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  • M.Ahmer Ali
    Sep 2, 2012 - 10:21AM

    @phoenix mentality:
    I strongly agree with you and appreciate your words but this harsh and bitter reality that no one finds/sees his/her own demerits,weaknesses and inabilities but finds/sees the demerits,weaknesses and inabilities in others only and mostly and Altaf Hussain is adopting/following the same policy by living/sitting in UK in his speeches and addresses to the Karachi’s people most especially importantly MQM…….

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  • Sep 2, 2012 - 10:55AM

    Yes, Altaf Hussain is 101 percent right. If a citizen is unsafe then the government and the LEAs and intelligence agencies have no right to claim their existence is a necessity. Recommend

  • MA76
    Sep 2, 2012 - 11:28AM

    I would vote for MQM now!

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  • Bilal
    Sep 2, 2012 - 12:38PM

    Altaf Hussain should be appreciated.

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  • Riaz Khan
    Sep 2, 2012 - 12:38PM

    Only leader in Pakistan who raises true issues facing its public!

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  • The whale
    Sep 2, 2012 - 12:59PM

    You won my vote here. <3 thank you for speaking up. And IK thank you for remaining silent. An ex-PTI fan.

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  • Sophist
    Sep 2, 2012 - 2:41PM

    MQM + PTI = Pakistan Future

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  • PM
    Sep 2, 2012 - 5:15PM

    Only one man has such courage he took the stance on ahmedis and now for shias hope it helps the entire nation esp punjabi jazbati kids figure out why there is so much propaganda against Altaf Husain and MQM , you are surrounded by sectarian mullahs and they have their fundo code of conduct of murdering minorities and those they cant reach declare them kafir ..

    Wake bacho its already late next in line are the barelvies and so on this wont stop. Ask your respective parties PML – n and esp dharna master PTI to show public stance and protest hard.

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  • Iftekhar
    Sep 2, 2012 - 5:37PM

    @p r sharma: All drama ………. MQM is the one n only political party to register blasphemy cases against opponents first against Takbeer editor Salahuddin 2nd against Zulfiqar Mirza. And it were Indian migrants would started violence against minorities in 1947, in Karachi n Hyderabad.

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  • Mullah ka bacha
    Sep 3, 2012 - 9:33AM

    The first pakistani leader to show backbone – I hope he becomes PM and converts Mullahstan back into Pakistan

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  • Luciferous
    Sep 4, 2012 - 2:58AM

    @Free: “Atleast one sane voice from Pakistan!!”

    From London, England actually!
    Our new Salahuddins of Rabita Committee are working hard but have not fully annexed it to Pakistan….yet!<Recommend

  • omair shahid
    Sep 4, 2012 - 3:51PM

    MQM is in government would appreciate when you say this out of government your party is enjoying all the benefits this government has destroyed pakistan and you are a part of it & supporting them.

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  • Abdullah Khan
    Sep 7, 2012 - 5:50PM

    I am not MQM voter but respect for MQM from Punjab on taking a stand.

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