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October 20, 2016



Ibad-Kamal controversy

Ibad-Kamal controversy

Chairman of Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) Mustafa Kamal has made a 'surgical strike’ on the longest-serving governor, Dr Ishratul Ibad, with some serious allegations, from corruption to conspiracies. However, Ibad not only denied all charges but also levelled a counter attack by saying it could be the reaction of Kamal's political failure. Why Kamal see his old colleague as an hurdle to his new political journey and why Ibad finds him as a failure?

Kamal's sudden attack on Governor Ibad surprised many but it has lot to do with the new split in the MQM, one led by Nadeem Nusrat from London, and the other by Dr Farooq Sattar in Pakistan.

Former city nazim has accused him of stopping people from joining the PSP. He has also blamed him for making the MQM-Pakistan on the one hand and maintaining his contacts with the MQM-London on the other hand.

Dr Ibad believes that Kamal's frustration could be linked to his political failure in making any meaningful impact through the PSP. Interestingly, both Kamal and Farooq Sattar remained 'un-comfortable' with Dr Ibad for more than one reasons, when all three were with Altaf Hussain.

Kamal left the MQM by choice after 2013 elections, while the MQM disassociated itself from Dr Ibad, following Dr Farooq Sattar's charge-sheet against him in 2015 for not doing much for the party and failure to look after party's interest.

However, Dr Ibad always remains in the comfort zone of successive rulers and spy heads, retired General Pervez Musharraf to the present army chief, General Raheel Sharif, from former president, Asif Ali Zardari to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and from retired Lt-Gen Zaheerul Islam to Lt-Gen Rizwan Akhtar. If there has been a consensus on man for this (governor) job among all, it is on Dr Ishratul Ibad.

One of the reasons could be his ability to bring the successive governments out of crisis, not only in Karachi but even at the Centre. The successive chiefs of premier intelligence agencies have also posed their confidence in him.

No wonder why he is holding this position for the past 14 years, and survived despite change of governments.

On Friday, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari held a marathon meeting with Dr Ibad, along with Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah over Karachi's development schemes, and some reports suggest that Bilawal had even offered him joining the PPP.

Mustafa Kamal, on the other hand, also emerged as an acceptable face with his hard work as Karachi's city nazim. In many ways, he was also lucky that retired General Pervez Musharraf was head of the state, and MQM was his trusted ally.  It is true that the MQM as a party was behind Kamal, but I have personally seen his working and efforts in making Karachi a better city, which also earned him the "award' among the best mayors around the world.

He never looked comfortable when made party's senator, but did not play any significant role, perhaps his expertise was in local bodies.

So, where Dr Ibad and Kamal parted ways and why? Was there a personality clash between the two since Musharraf's days and Dr Ibad opposed the PSP when the matter came under discussion in his meetings with the high officials of premier intelligence agencies and the government?

The information gathered by this writer revealed that Governor Ibad was against formation of PSP when he was asked about his opinion on the prospects of the new party on the ground that its fate may not be different from the MQM-Haqiqi or Azeem Tariq's episode and suggested an alternative plan.

Sources said when Dr Ibad's opinion was sought about the future of Kamal and the PSP by the people who matter in Pakistan he did not showed his optimism.

As far as allegations of corruption were concerned, no concrete evidence so far had come on record either against Ibad or Kamal. Now, if the former city nazim has some evidence, he can create problems for the governor.

Sources said Kamal feared that after August 22, Dr Ibad did support the position taken by Dr Farooq Sattar and his team in his meetings with high officials.

However, Altaf Hussain and the MQM-London never contacted him since he refused to step down as governor. Sources said Dr Ibad was once asked to try to mitigate differences between the MQM-Pakistan and the PSP, but both sides rejected the move at this stage.

When both Dr Ibad and Kamal were part of the MQM, both were on 'one page' that the MQM should not join the PPP government after former home minister Dr Zulfiqar Mirza operation against the MQM alleged militants. Later, Ibad played an important role in convincing former president Asif Ali Zardari to remove him as home minister if he really wants to defuse tension in Karachi.

Ibad was also among those disappointed with Altaf Hussain's speech on May 19, 2013, which ultimately led to another split after many leaders were humiliated, manhandled by the MQM workers in general workers meeting.

Kamal, Anis Qaimkhani, Anis Advocate, Raza Haroon and others quietly left the party without any formal announcement. Altaf Hussain made several attempts to bring back Kamal in particularly but the latter informed the party leaders that he was not interested in politics.

Kamal, by nature, had a reputation of a short-tempered person, even when he was the city nazim and active in the MQM. Party's Labour Wing, was particularly not happy with his attitude and behaviour, something which often reflected in his harsh tone during interviews and press conferences.

It is difficult to say how far this controversy may continue and what will the final outcome, but Dr Ibad is still in the good books of both the establishment and the federal and Sindh governments, and he may get an important position before the next elections.

The writer is the senior columnist and analyst of Geo, The News and Jang