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After years of obscurity, MQM-Haqiqi seeks to establish relevance to Mohajir politics

May 19, 2017

The Mohajir Qaumi Movement — commonly known as Haqiqi, a title it no longer uses — is all set for a show of strength in Malir, where its supremo, Afaq Ahmed, will address a women’s gathering at the RCD Ground today.

MQM-Haqiqi leaders said on Thursday organising such rallies was part of the party’s ongoing restructuring process. However, analysts believe that the party, which had become irrelevant in the city’s politics for various reasons over the past several years, has not only been trying to exploit the Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s troubles because of an ongoing crackdown, but it wants to become a stakeholder of the new facet of the Mohajir politics in the urban centres of Sindh.

Khalid Hameed, the MQM-Haqiqi’s central information secretary, claimed that his party was still popular among the Mohajir populace and Friday’s gathering would prove it. He said the party would further show its strength at its mega gathering in Nishtar Park in mid-July.


Rise and fall of Haqiqi

In the past three days, MQM-Haqiqi camps have been set up along the main Landhi-Korangi road, inviting the residents to attend today’s Malir rally.

Landhi was one among the few Mohajir-populated areas considered strongholds of the MQM-Haqiqi since 1992 after its splintering off from the MQM. The other areas were Malir, Shah Faisal Colony, Lines Area and some pockets in New Karachi and Liaquatabad.

A veteran journalist living in Landhi said these areas were once literally “no-go areas” for the MQM workers and supporters. “Similarly, the MQM made most of the city falling under its influence no-go areas for the MQM-H,” he said.  

Despite controlling these localities for over a decade, the Haqiqi faction has been losing strength there since 2003, when the MQM, which was supporting then army chief General Pervez Musharraf’s military regime, used government machinery against its rival, demolishing its headquarters, Baitul Hamza, in Landhi, expelling it from its strongholds and putting two key leaders, Ahmed and Aamir Khan, behind bars. Then a split occurred within Haqiqi after differences developed between Ahmed and Khan while they were in prison, causing violent clashes between their supporters. Khan and his colleagues rejoined the MQM in May 2011. 

“Thousands of workers and supporters have been killed in factional clashes,” the journalist said. 

However, taking advantage of the ongoing operation that started in September 2013 and has brought peace to the city to a great extent, the MQM-Haqiqi has returned to its former strongholds after a gap of 10 years.

“Since 2002, our party has passed through critical times. Our leaders were sent to jail and 734 workers have been killed during the period,” Hameed told The News. “It is the reason why we have focused on the party’s restructuring.”  


New facet of Mohajir politics 

Analysts believe the Rangers-led ongoing crackdown and the dissociation of MQM leaders in Pakistan from Altaf Hussain have caused a paradigm shift in the Mohajir politics.

The Haqiqi has managed to return to its former strongholds, resuming its political activities there.  

In March last year, Mustafa Kamal and Anis Qaimkhani, two MQM leaders, parted ways with their party, and formed Pak Sarzameen Party, attracting a number of lawmakers and leaders into their party’s fold.

In August, a bitter diatribe of Altaf Hussain forced the MQM’s leadership in Pakistan to announce their disassociation from Hussain and decide that the party would be run from Pakistan and not from London. That led to the emergence of the MQM-Pakistan and the MQM-London.

Analysts believe developments in the past two years have changed various dimensions of the Mohajir politics.

Ahmed Yusuf, a Karachi-based political analyst, said two tendencies have emerged in the Mohajir politics – politics of representation and politics of nationalism.

“Except the MQM-London, other three Mohajir parties are doing the politics of representation and everyone has been working hard to make themselves relevant in the new facet of politics,” Yusuf told The News.

Also, they have been working to form a coalition or enter into a merger, burying their hatchets. The process started in early April when Afaq Ahmed announced his willingness to reconcile with its arch rival, MQM. “If India and Pakistan can sit together for dialogue, why can’t Mohajirs among themselves?” he had said.

After a few weeks, the party, for the first time in its history, announced support for an MQM-P rally for the rights of the city.

Yusuf believes that negotiations between the Pakistan and Haqiqi factions to merge their parties are going on.

The MQM-P leaders also supported the merger with the Haqiqi. An MQM leader, who is union committee chairman from the Old City area of the South district, said the PPP’s neglecting the Mohajir-populated neighborhoods had created a sense of insecurity among the community.

“The PPP is all set to exploit the differences among the Mohajir parties in the upcoming general polls. It is high time for the Mohajir parties to become united to save urban areas from the PPP’s rural leaders and pressure the Sindh government to give the urban areas their due rights,” he told The News.

Although the MQM-Pakistan, after disassociating itself from Altaf Hussain, managed to win the recent by-polls for local government seats in the city, analysts strongly believe that one can gauge the acceptability of all four parties among the Mohajir community if they take part in the upcoming general polls.