ISLAMABAD: Following Saulat Mirza’s confessional video statement, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) lawmakers in the National Assembly on Friday demanded that the government launch a probe to determine who had recorded the statement and released it to the media.
Amid shouting and slogans from his colleagues, senior MQM leader Dr Farooq Sattar raised several questions on Mirza’s video-confession, asking if the ongoing operation in Karachi was targetting a particular group in an effort “to roll back, and crush a progressive political party”.
“It would not be appropriate to push a party belonging to the middle class against the wall,” he said.
Citing Mirza’s unprecedented statement, Sattar said a judicial commission should investigate who recorded the video of a ‘condemned prisoner’ after the latter had exhausted all available legal courses. The BBC had reported on Thursday that a secret government agency had reportedly recorded the statement. Mirza had alleged many senior leaders of the MQM to be involved in murders and target killings.
“…there is need to get ‘confessional statements’ through a truth and reconciliation commission from those responsible for the 1986 massacre; military operation against the party in 1992 and the target killing of over 1,200 party workers,” said the MQM leader. “Who forced hundreds of MQM workers to go underground…also needs to be investigated.”
Sattar remarked that Mirza’s present statement was contrary to his confession, which he recorded before the trial court.
“It is just mockery a of law and there needs to be a probe who actually shot and handed it to the national media.”
The MQM leader also criticised television anchors for what he claimed was an unfair analysis of the situation and negative propaganda against the party.
He said the House needs to answer all these questions, otherwise it will be construed as a move orchestrated by the federal government.
Confessional statements for all condemned prisoners
Balking at the unprecedented nature of the ‘confessional video’ of Mirza, the MQM demanded that similar ‘confessional statements’ should be recorded for all condemned prisoners, particularly those involved in the General Headquarters (GHQ) attack in Rawalpindi.
Citing Articles 4, 10A and 25 of the Constitution, MQM MNAs asked why the right to record a video statement was not given to condemned prisoner Dr Usman, one of the six convicts in the GHQ attack case.
During the session on Friday, the MQM presented a set of demands, calling for the formation of a judicial commission, a truth and reconciliation commission and a body to monitor transparency of the ongoing operation led by the Rangers in Karachi.
Sattar reiterated his party’s stance that they were not against the security operation in the city but asked why a middle class party was being targetted.
“This operation should identify criminals and apprehend the miscreants instead of a targetting a political party,” he said, appealing to authorities concerned to review and revise the policy for the operation.
The MQM members of parliament also suggested that the Rangers share a list of wanted persons with the National Assembly speaker.
“We will also reveal where the May 12 plan was hatched, and who was responsible for the bloodshed,” said Sattar.
‘All MQM offices closed’
Sattar said that except party headquarters at Nine-Zero, all offices of the the party in Karachi were closed, and that the party was not being allowed to establish contact with the people.
He warned that if MQM’s offices are not allowed to operate, then no other party would able to run its offices in the city either.
“Mr Speaker, I’m not threatening but telling you facts,” Sattar quickly clarified.
The senior leader warned that terrorists, extremists and banned outfits would fill the vacuum if MQM is eliminated.
Chief of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party Mahmood Khan Achakzai criticised the National Assembly speaker for allowing the MQM to violate parliamentary rules and norms in the name of urgent political matter.
Addressing Sattar, he said, “…I would only refer your telephonic conversation with an American diplomat after May 12 carnage,” he said. “Read that conversation and decide the truth in your claims of being loyal to Pakistan.”
At the outset of Friday’s proceedings, Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq warned Sattar that a political speech would not be allowed on a point of order, which led other MQM members in the Assembly to chant slogans.
The sloganeering continued for 10 minutes after which the speaker agreed to suspend the agenda and give Sattar a chance to voice his objections.