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Karachi

February 14, 2018

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MQM-P riddled with internal struggle over power, money and Tessori

Businessman Kamran Tessori had joined the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) last February. Just a little over a year later the party split into two factions – at least for now. Whether for the good or for the bad, the debate continues.

The dissension occurred when Farooq Sattar, as the convener of the MQM-P, suggested awarding the party’s ticket to Tessori to contest the senate election on general seat. In the prior voting he had secured the least votes, 11, among four other members, given that Amir Khan had withdrawn from the race. Nasreen Jalil had gained the most votes, 24, Farogh Nasim 23, Aminul Haque 17 and Shabbir Qaimkhani 14.

The “majority” of the coordination committee that was supposed to approve the final list, containing top four candidates, under Article 19 of the party’s constitution, opposed the suggestion.

Sattar and his group camped at his residence in PIB Colony while the Khan group stayed at the MQM-P’s “temporary” headquarters in Bahadurabad. Negotiations continued for three days, but in vain.

The groups filed their separate nominations and, eventually, the Khans’ were accepted by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). Yet Sattar appears to have the upper hand, given the weight of around 25 MPAs behind him.

The opponents have at least 12. Four more are reportedly out of the country. Nine have left the party. The strength of the MQM-P, for now, has reduced from 50 to 37. The chances of the party maintaining its previous position of four senators are quite bleak, because it takes 21 votes to secure a general seat.  

Apples of discord

The MQM-P’s division into PIB and Bahadurabad groups seems to have occurred because of two things: power and money. With both sides accusing each other of being involved in corruption and misconduct, it is fair to say that soon after slightly recovering from the post-August 22, 2016 upheavals, the party suffered an organisational imbalance.

The induction of Tessori in the party and his elevation to the post of deputy convener, which is technically meant to provide a helping hand to the convener, was the first incident when Sattar faced “fierce” questioning from majority of the coordination committee.

“It was inevitable, but for the good,” Sattar had reasoned, implying that they needed an “experienced” member to communicate with the establishment. It was when the party had not completely gained their trust that they had cut ties with their incendiary chief, Altaf Hussain. So they were beheld with scepticism.

Tessori played his part and, though not all, achieved a few targets by reopening some party offices that were sealed by the authorities in their crackdown, recovered some party leaders and workers who had gone missing and toned down the prosecution against others.

Meanwhile, unverified stories about alleged corruption by prominent party leaders started to emerge. In their meetings Tessori accused Faisal Subzwari of buying a vehicle worth Rs10 million with the money from Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar.

Tessori also made Sattar summon Akhtar to inquire about a hefty sum supposedly deposited in one of his official bank accounts. Trusting him, Sattar involved Tessori in several organisational bodies, such as the local bodies’ oversight committee and information committee.

The others were unhappy with this. They protested and subtly started their lobbying. They had an edge for being stronger in number, and the amended party constitution favoured them.

What’s next? With Sattar removed and Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui appointed as the new convener of the MQM-P, the matter has fell within the labyrinthine party constitution and election laws.

To counter the Bahadurabad group’s move, Sattar has written to the ECP. He states that the February 11 general workers meeting of the party had resolved to dissolve the incumbent coordination committee and, to elect the new body, intra-party elections would be held on February 17.

He cited Article 6(j) of the MQM-P’s constitution in support of the decision made by the “general assembly”, contrary to the text which reads that the changes could be made this way but not about convener, senior deputy convener(s) and deputy convener(s). The matter is prone to be subjected to a legal discourse.

Siddiqui has also convened a general workers meeting in Nazimabad on February 16, a day before the Sattar group is scheduled to hold the intra-party elections. It is likely that the PIB group would change the date to conduct the exercise earlier.

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