In a spine-chilling warning to his political foes on Friday, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain raised the spectre of a separate province if the Pakistan Peoples Party failed to accept his party’s mandate.
“I want to tell the nationalist groups and PPP leaders that if they don’t accept the mandate of urban Sindhis then [they should] create a separate province for them,” Altaf said. He also warned the establishment that the MQM would struggle to carve out a separate country if it was opposed.
Addressing a public meeting on Friday to launch the party’s election campaign for the local government polls, he took up the cudgels on behalf of former military ruler Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf while also demanding a share in Sindh’s power structure.
“I am still ready for dialogue. But after me I don’t know if there will be anyone left for dialogue or the urban people will just unleash violence to achieve their objectives,” he said.
Altaf followed up his threats with a power-sharing offer. He told the PPP’s patron-in-chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and chairman Asif Ali Zardari that his call for a separate province could be withdrawn, “if you sit on the table and make an agreement for 50-50% division of power [in the provincial and local government structures]”.
The MQM chief wrapped up his diatribe with a direct appeal to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for intervention in Sindh. He complained that the establishment continued to ignore his people but ‘you can’t throw Sindh’s half population into the sea’.
“What do you want? Shall I raise the slogan for a separate state?” Altaf, however, hastily added that he was only describing the state of affairs rather than expressing his desire.
He asked PM Nawaz to intervene in the provincial government and to tell provincial Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah to stop divisive politics.
Championing Musharraf’s cause
He argued that ex-president Pervez Musharraf should not be put to trial alone but all the generals, judges, parliamentarians and politics who abetted his October 12, 1999, coup and the November 3, 2007, emergency should also be tried.
“Only a package deal can be accepted. General [Ashfaq Pervez] Kayani, former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and other judges were also part and parcel of the dictatorship and martial law. Hang Zia, hang Musharraf, hang Altaf but also hang Kayani and Chaudhry.”
He also questioned constitutional law experts as to why the judiciary — which had validated Musharraf’s coup for three years till 2002 — is not being held reprehensible. He said Musharraf’s legal team including advocate Sharifuddin Pirzada and Mansoor Khan were getting death threats for their assistance in the case.
The MQM chief also strongly criticised the anchorpersons, accusing them of having crossed all limits. “People like you have divided Pakistani into two. Do you want still more pieces [of the country]?”
According to him, some anchorpersons have become multimillionaires and billionaires and some among them have their own mansions, palaces, farmhouses and cars, which, according to him, was not the case in the past even when celebrated journalists lived frugal lives.
Grieving over his 24-year- long exile in Britain, he expressed fears that he would meet the fate of dictator Ziaul Haq if he returned to the country.
He advised the establishment to redress the wrongs done to his supporters to prevent the seeds of separatism from germinating in the Urdu speaking community.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 4th, 2014.