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March 20, 2017

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MQM foundation day celebrations lacklustre

MQM foundation day celebrations lacklustre

ISLAMABAD: The “celebrations” on the 33rd foundation day of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) on March 18 were lacklustre and listless with the deeply divided party having been left with too little to rejoice.

Last year, Dr Farooq Sattar, while addressing the foundation day function, had urged party leaders and activists to observe strict allegiance to its exiled founder Altaf Hussain. This time, there was not even a mention of him in laudatory words. Rather he talked about having implemented the minus-one (ousting Altaf Hussain) formula, but still his party’s woes are persisting.

There were not much activities that could indicate Atlaf Hussain’s involvement in the 33rd foundation day celebrations except a video uploaded by Wasay Jalil on his Twitter account in which the founder, while sitting on a chair having a flower bouquet before him, was shown gesticulating with his hands. This also indicated the widespread speculations about his falling health.

It is a bitter reality that the MQM has nothing to celebrate after having been extremely cut to size, having lost the ominously popular clout to shut down Karachi every now and then, paralyzing the normal life. The most devastating damage has been inflicted on Altaf Hussain, who had founded the MQM in March 1984.

There is the MQM London, comprising a handful coterie of exiled leaders, who are surrounding the founder and have no plan to return to Pakistan. Altaf Hussain may still have a popular say in the urban centres of Sindh, but he is in no position to use or utilize it for having been removed from Pakistan’s political landscape. His London chapter has no organizational structure in Pakistan, and whatever it did put up last year was swiftly demolished by authorities. In this sense, it was immaterial whether or not it commemorated the foundation day because its functions have no impact on its followers in Pakistan, who are running for life and fear to even make a mention of it or its chief.

Altaf Hussain, who was already under immense pressure and was facing an embargo over his media coverage, ditched himself by delivering an anti-Pakistan incendiary speech on August 22. He left no option for his party leaders, who were running the MQM in Pakistan, than to bid adieu to him. Previously, they had been militantly fighting for him at every available forum and defending him where he even should not have been. But after that notorious telephonic address he was robbed of their support. Since then, there is none in Pakistan, who speaks kind words for him. Those in London are hardly heard or registered in Pakistan as everybody here views their statements, stands and activities with serious suspicions and doubts.

There is the second Farooq Sattar-led MQM Pakistan, which claims to have taken over the party in totality by dumping Altaf Hussain. A day before the foundation day, Farooq Sattar was briefly detained by authorities and freed after he was told to appear before the concerned court where he has been arraigned for a case. This faction has in its fold almost all the federal and Sindh legislators, who were elected when Altaf Hussain was holding the fort and who had been awarded tickets by him.

Then, there is a small splinter group led by Mustafa Kamal, which is desperately working to wean away a maximum number of prominent MQM leaders and activists. For obvious reasons, it has nothing to do with the celebrations on the MQM’s foundation day. It is yet to make a mark on the political horizon of Karachi with a bang. While struggling to make a place, it has been engaged in dispelling the impression that it has been launched by any influential quarters.

The MQM Pakistan presents itself as the actual party, which its founder disowns and hates, dubbing it as a bunch of traitors. A question that comes to some minds is that what kind of foundation day celebrations this faction held on March 18 when it had come into being only on August 22, 2016 when it parted company with Altaf Hussain.

While the MQM is miserably frayed, no political party has so far emerged that may fill the vacuum. Slogan-chanting to capture the space is one thing, but doing something credible to impress the Karachiites is another.

Regardless of celebrations or no celebrations by the two factions of the MQM in Pakistan and abroad, people of Karachi are immensely overjoyed and jubilant over the split of this party because they are living in a peaceful environment only after this development. When the MQM was a monolithic dreaded entity, being firmly controlled by Altaf Hussain, they were confronted with a nightmare for decades when they had lost thousands of their kith and kin apart from the unprecedented damage to their businesses. They were always overwhelmed by terror and trepidation.

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