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April 16, 2018



Sattar asks CJ, COAS to take notice of ‘forced’ switches to PSP

KARACHI: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P) leader Farooq Sattar has said that his party’s elected representatives, office-bearers and workers have been forced by the Pak Sarzameen Party to switch over.

In a hurriedly-called press conference early Sunday, Sattar said, “The attempts to forcibly change loyalties have started [once again] and this time with more intensity.” He added that his people in the party were being threatened on phone and through other means to join the PSP.

Sattar’s allegations have come at a point when he seems to have reached at the losing end in the MQM-P infighting and in competition with the PSP that intends to capitalise on the same vote bank as of them.

He said that attempts amount to finishing the MQM and added that he will not join the PSP or any other political party come what may and will remain with his party. “An impression is being fabricated that (MQM electoral symbol) kite is gone and the future belongs to someone else.”

“Chief Justice of Pakistan and Chief of Army Staff should take notice of the situation,” he said, adding that he himself will knock on the doors of the Supreme Court and the General Headquarters to apprise them of how the MQM-P was being forced out of parliamentary politics. “They should give me time for a meeting.”

He said that despite having engaged in an “uncontroversial” political struggle, the MQM-P people were being given death threats to make them switch to the PSP. He said that a narrative was being pushed that people were leaving the MQM-P because of its infighting. “On the contrary, the joining of Shabbir Qaimkhani [in PSP] has set things straight.”

Commenting on the Qaimkhani’s switch, he commented: “The cat is out of the bag.” Sattar said that because of the man the MQM-P’s PIB and Bahadurabad entered into an altercation was now in the PSP. He said that it was evident that who planted the infighting in his party. Qaimkhani was a senior member of the MQM-P’s coordination committee, and the MQM-P’s infighting stemmed from his and Kamran Tessori’s nomination for the Senate election. In the intra-polling, he bagged the fourth largest votes to be nominated, however, Sattar citing his convener veto wanted to replace him with Tessori.

Sattar warned that when the attitude towards the outgoing assemblies was like this, then what will happen to incoming assemblies. He said that the MQM-P people should be convinced about the security of them and their families and then he and Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, the convener of Bahadurabad group, will sort things out.

At the near end of the deadline given by Bahadurabad to him to rejoin the office by April 16, he said that they seemed uninterested in reconciling things because Khawaja Izhar-ul-Hasan, the MQM-P leader of the opposition in Sindh Assembly, who acted as a mediator during the split, had not contacted him in the past 15 days. “Otherwise, he would have come to me.”

Meanwhile, MQM-P MPAs Jamal Ahmed and Nishat Zia Qadri also spoke to the presser. Ahmed said that he was receiving phone calls from the PSP leaders for the past few days, forcing him to switch to their party. “I may be killed after this,” he said, adding that he was so mentally disturbed that he even thought of committing suicide. “I apprehended forced disappearance,” he said, “I had even agreed in the last phone call to switch. But now I am not going anywhere.”

Qadri said that he was to join the PSP on Sunday because of the pressure from someone who acted as a messenger of Anis Kaimkhani but Sattar gave him hope. He said that politicians should be allowed to act on their own. “I appeal to the chief justice and army chief for my safety.”

Addressing a party’s general workers gathering later in the evening, Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan leader admitted that he met Pak Sarzameen Party president Anis Kaimkhani but did not ask anything from him.

“Instead, I was offered a package by Kaimkhani,” he said, responding to the allegations by Mustafa Kamal in a press conference earlier on Sunday that he asked for an offer to join the PSP and sought help against the MQM-P’s Bahadurabad group.

He said that he was willing to meet the chief justice, army chief and ISI chief to tell them about how the PSP was threatening MQM-P leaders, lawmakers, office bearers and workers to force them to switch over. “Even children know what offence was being done to the MQM-P.”

He said that the attempts amount to sidelining the Muhajirs from parliamentary politics and to force them out of their struggle for rights. He added that the conspiracy was so intense that some of the party’s MPAs were even thinking about suicide.

He said, “An impression is being given that I was paving my way to PSP by sending MPAs and MNAs there. There is not truth in it. I have already said that I will stick to the MQM till my last breath and won’t join any other party.”

He said that there were some facilitators involved in the apparent political engineering in Karachi and he would disclose their names before the people he has asked to take notice. He added that he would make another letter public to reveal the secrets.

On the split, he commented that the PIB and Bahadurabad could reconcile at any given time and it was a secondary issue. The point is that MQM-P is being forced out of the parliamentary process, he added, questioning what harm it would inflict to the country if it takes part in the polls.

Calling the Bahadurabad group “ignorant friends”, he said that they should tell, before asking any question from him, that who actually started the division. He said that the PSP was a factory product of the MQM and would eventually merge into it.

He announced that the MQM-P will hold a protest outside the Karachi Press Club or the Chief Minister's House over the issues of controversial population census, water and power issues and the difficulties faced by the people in obtaining CNICs from Nadra.

Also, while reacting to the allegations leveled by Farooq Sattar, Mustafa Kamal said that a drowning person was trying to clutch at a straw, by telling lies to the people.

Addressing a press conference on Sunday, the Pak Sarzameen Party chairman said that although his doors were open for everyone but not for Sattar because he was a “liar” and destined to be disappointed.

He refuted the allegations that the PSP was forcing the MQM-P people to switch over and said that it was happening because of the infighting between the PIB and Bahadurabad groups, spearheaded by Sattar and Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui respectively. “We could have said much, enough to damage them to the core, but we opted not to.”

A dozen MQM-P's prominent people, including 11 lawmakers and a coordination committee member, among others, have joined the PSP since February 5 when the MQM-P publicly split in two groups. Since its inception in March 2016, the PSP has gained five MNAs and 15 MPAs from the MQM-P.

Kamal said that amid their infighting, Sattar would call Anis Kaimkhani often to seek his help in making the Bahadurabad group look weaker. “On the eve of the Senate election, he asked Kaimkhani to put two votes in Kamran Tessori’s bag to make him elected.”

In March, he said, a day before the Election Commission of Pakistan decision, Sattar asked Kaimkhani for a one-on-one meeting at the residence of a friend in District East and said: “‘If the decision would be against him, then what package PSP could offer him in return of joining.’”

He said that Sattar even told him once in a meeting that he would play “bluff” with Muhajirs one more time in election on the MQM name and electoral symbol of kite. He said previously when “intoxicated”, Altaf Hussain made controversial speeches and people in the party complained to Sattar about it, he would say that “nothing could be done until [Altaf] is dead.”

He said despite all this, Sattar was leveling allegations at the PSP because of his [Saturday] meeting with Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, who now heads the Pakistan Muslim League-N and he claimed about bringing Karachi at par with Lahore.

He criticized Sattar that now he would go visit the Shuhada Qabristan, a graveyard in Yasinabad where most MQM-P people are buried, and would use his mother to gain sympathies because he had lost everything, including his political career.

During the press conference, MQM-P MPA Sumita Afzal, among others, announced joining the PSP. She said that there was no pressure on her and only because she wanted to work for the country, so she switched to it. “I thought that after August 22, 2016, Sattar would set the things but he failed.” Afzal said that she told Sattar that he had become bipolar by putting selection over election.

Kamal said that all those who were joining the PSP were with open minds and hearts as they did debate with him over the party’s manifesto and ideology. He said that people in the MQM-P were bent upon forcing the Muhajirs into the abyss even more.

Meanwhile, seconding Farooq Sattar’s demand, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, the Convener of MQM-P Bahadurabad group, has appealed to the prime minister, chief justice and army chief to take notice of the statement of his party’s MPAs about receiving “threats” from the Pak Sarzameen Party.

Talking to a press conference on Sunday, he said, “The courage that Nishat Zia Qadri and Jamal Ahmed have shown by narrating the incidents is commendable and the whole MQM-P stands with them.”

He said that the MQM-P would not succumb to this external pressure and asked the government and the establishment to take notice of it because, even if they claim to have nothing to do with the forced switches, their name has been used in it. He said that differences aside, all the MQM-P leaders, workers and supporters would be on the same page to fight this pressure because be they in any group are each others’ power and responsibility. He said that though a part of Sattar’s press conference was against Bahadurabad but they would not comment on it given the situation. He, however, asked Sattar to respond to the allegations made by Mustafa Kamal that he sought PSP's help.

He said that Sattar should tell in detail he met whom, how many times, where and had he taken anybody in the party in confidence. “He should respond to all these allegations in another press conference.”