Hinting at the possible return to the country of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain, who is in self-imposed exile in London, the party leaders demonstrated on Friday to demand the authorities issue a national identity card for overseas Pakistanis (NICOP) to him.
"The streets will soon become festive … that person is about to come who will hand over the real Pakistan to Pakistanis..." said the party's deputy convener, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, as he addressed a large crowd, which broke into applause at these words.
On Friday, MQM workers and leaders protested outside the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) head office on Karsaz Road for not issuing Hussain an identity card. Siddiqui said that thousands of party workers were ecstatic to know that Hussain had submitted a form for a Pakistani identity card on April 4 but some people fear his comeback.
Siddiqui said that this is not the first time that Hussain is being denied his identity card as he had applied several times in the past too. "No one can snatch 'Pakistaniat' from Altaf Hussain," he said. "The whole nation needs to question why he is being denied his identity card." MQM Rabita Committee member Haider Abbas Rizvi said that at the 'high powered meeting' on Wednesday at Governor House, the prime minister and the interior minister had reassured that the identity card issue was not a big one. "Till yesterday, we kept hearing that some orders will to be passed but to no avail."
He said that they had heard baseless excuses from NADRA that the data had been lost, and that the photograph Hussain sent with the form was not 'proper'. "We don't want to do a photo session of our leader and call a professional photographer to take his pictures," he said. "NADRA should make his identity card using the same picture they have taken."
The MQM leader said that for the last 22 years, Altaf had been forced to live in self-exile and away from his friends, family, and thousands of followers. Rizvi also called for the reinstatement of NADRA employees who were removed allegedly for taking Altaf's fingerprints and pictures. That was all done in the presence of the Pakistani High Commission to the UK, he added. He also condemned the FIR registered against former NADRA chairperson Tariq Malik who spoke in favour of the MQM chief.
Rabita Committee’s Kunwar Naveed Jamil said that those people delaying the process purposely should be punished. While the health minister, Sagheer Ahmed, felt that a non-issue was being turned into an issue.
Meanwhile, the workers of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) staged demonstrations outside NADRA offices in the districts of Hyderabad, Benazirabad, Sanghar, Mirpurkhas and Tando Allahyar on Friday.
Several MQM MPAs led a token sit-in outside the NADRA office in Hyderabad. "The MQM leader is being denied his national identity card," said MPA Ansar. "If he returned to Pakistan, he will spark a revolution."
The protesters in Mirpurkhas, led by MPA Dr Zafar Kamali and Mirpurkhas incharge Mujeebul Haq, shouted slogans against Chaudhry Nisar, demanding his removal from the ministry. "This is an act of political revenge," said Kamali, asking the government to desist from it.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 17th, 2014.
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