KARACHI: A day after federal defence minister Khawaja Asif's statement about Muhajirs, a 'disheartened' Altaf Hussain said that he wanted to step down as chief of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). Meanwhile, the party announced a series of protests and walk-outs from parliamentary sessions until Asif apologised.
The defence minister, in an interview after the National Assembly session on Monday, had said that Muhajirs were only those who had migrated from places such as Jalandhar and Ludhiyana, while the rest were 'fake Muhajirs'.
The MQM on Tuesday held an urgent meeting and condemned the statement, saying it was anti-Muhajir, provocative and aimed to spread hatred and animosity.
"I have been struggling for the rights of Muhajirs for the past 37 years," Hussain told a news channel, adding that he had become so disheartened by the way Muhajirs were being treated that he wanted to step down as the party chief.
He said that Muhajirs were repeatedly mocked and such statements insulted the sacrifices of those who had left behind their homes in different parts of India and migrated to Pakistan.
At the Khursheed Begum Secretariat, MQM leader Dr Farooq Sattar laid out the party's course of action, saying that if Asif and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz did not apologise, they would protest and stage walk-outs from the Senate, provincial and national assemblies. "Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should also clarify his party and his government's stance regarding Asif's derogatory statement," he demanded.
Meanwhile in the Sindh Assembly, the MQM lawmakers submitted a resolution against Asif's statement. The party also held protests at the Karachi Press Club and in other cities on Tuesday evening.
Strikes in Karachi
Responding to Nawaz's clarification of his remarks that Karachi shuts down 'if even a fly dies,' the Rabita Committee said the premier should investigate the reasons for strikes in the city.
"Karachi's Muhajirs were being arrested and brutally tortured and their bodies found later. When the government, courts and law enforcement agencies fail to provide us justice, what other option do we have but protesting and holding strikes?" asked Farooq Sattar, adding that the monitoring committee promised by the government to oversee the targeted operation in the city was never formed.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 17th, 2015.
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