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Will do everything to keep MQM part of assemblies: Khursheed

By our correspondents
August 19, 2016

NA opposition leader visits Muttahida’s protest camp at KPC a day ahead of PM Nawaz Sharif’s arrival in the city


On the second day of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) hunger strike, the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, Syed Khursheed Shah, visited the party’s protest camp outside the Karachi Press Club in what was seen by relevant quarters as a gesture of solidarity with the MQM leadership and activists.

Exchanging views with MQM leaders at the camp, the senior Pakistan Peoples Party leader assured them of all possible help for the redressal of their grievances, which largely pertain to the ongoing security operations and what the MQM terms as the “state’s excesses”. 

“We will do everything in our power to convince the MQM to remain a part of the provincial and national assemblies. This is not the time for us to drift apart; rather, it is imperative that all political forces find a way to work together,” said Shah, who had a day earlier announced the PPP's plans to take to the streets for anti-government protests in September.

Dr Farooq Sattar, senior deputy convener of the MQM coordination committee, appreciated Shah's decision to come down to the camp. "His [Khursheed's] presence at our protest today gives us certain belief that justice will be served and that we are not alone in what have been immensely tough times for the MQM," he stated.  

So far, more than 16 MQM leaders, MNAs and MPAs have showed up at the strike camp, including MNA Shaikh Salahuddin , MPAs Saifuddin Khalid , Faisal Rafiq Sheikh , MQM workers Syed Owaisul Hasan Burney ,Shahzaad Ahmed, Amir Masood , Javed Akhtar, Mohammed Rasheed and Mohammed Amjad.

The protest started under the leadership of Aslam Afirdi, a member of the MQM’s coordination committee, and members of the National Assembly and the Sindh Assembly belonging to the opposition party are among the hunger strikers.

The hunger strike was announced by Dr Farooq Sattar and deputy convener Amir Khan at a press conference held at Khursheed Memorial Hall in Azizabad.

Sattar cited various reasons, including the alleged economic murder of Mohajir youths, violations of human rights, torture on Muttahdia activists, illegal raids and detentions by law enforcers, for the decision to begin the hunger strike.

He said Mohajir workers were being arrested from their houses and offices and thousands of workers were missing. “Chadar aur chaar diwari ko pamal kia gaya,” he said and accused law enforcement  agencies of adopting a humiliating attitude towards workers and supporters of the party.

Gross human right violations were being committed in various parts of the city, he added. He had earlier said that Urdu-speaking people were being victimised.

The MQM has been protesting against the paramilitary Rangers for committing what it calls “excesses” and “injustices’ against its workers and leaders and has called upon the federal government and the army chief to intervene and do justice. It recently staged a token hunger strike against illegal detentions of its workers.

The party has also termed the arrest of its Karachi mayoral candidate, Waseem Akhtar, illegal and unconstitutional. The MQM has been demanding of the law enforcement agencies to stop conducting illegal raids to arrest its workers, and warned them not to push it to the wall “before it is too late”.

Earlier, a statement, issued after Amir Khan presided over an emergency meeting at the his party’s headquarters, Nine Zero, said the government and the opposition had turned a deaf ear to Mohajirs’ issues and sufferings.

The meeting observed that raids and arrests by Rangers, police and other law enforcement agencies had become a routine. Khan said the rights of Mohajirs were being violated by “some conspiring elements among the authorities”.