As the legislative assemblies of the country will be completing their five-year tenure next month, Mustafa Kamal has claimed that his Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) has become the largest opposition party in Sindh, even though it has never taken part in any election.
The former Karachi mayor’s two-year-old party now has 17 MPAs, after Yousaf Shahwani joined on Saturday, and four MNAs. All of them, except one MPA from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, were previously affiliated with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P).
The PSP also claims that it will induct more members into the party in the coming days and all of them will be jumping ship from the MQM-P.
Given the split in the MQM-Pakistan prevails, the PSP is attempting to change the opposition leader in the Sindh Assembly and the Karachi mayor, a move that MQM-P Bahadurabad convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui warned against in his recent news conference. “This won’t be good for democracy,” he had said.
PSP senior vice-chairman Waseem Aftab says his party can bring that change anytime, but it is not doing so as a good will gesture. “We have all the numbers and the necessary support that it requires.”
The MQM-P had 50 MPAs. Besides those who switched over to the PSP, two joined the Pakistan Peoples Party and one is yet to register himself with another party. The MQM-P’s strength has now been reduced to 31.
And if both factions of the party hold almost the equal number of lawmakers, their ratio comes to 16:15. Technically, they would hold the second and third spots in the assembly, unless they unite.
Kamal says the PSP is leading the numbers game and it should be taken onboard when consulting for the caretaker government to be formed in the province. Otherwise, they cannot do it, he adds.
To install the interim set-up during the days of election, the chief minister and the opposition leader are required to sign an agreement to give their consent. There’s a provision in the political parties act to unseat the assembly members in case they defect from their party.
MQM-P Sindh parliamentary leader Syed Sardar Ahmed says that invoking the provision, he wrote to the assembly speaker and his party leader Farooq Sattar approached the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), but nothing happened. “I don’t know why.”
MQM-P Bahadurabad leader Aminul Haque says that despite the fact that his party is going through a split, the two sides are on the same page as regards not to let anyone re-engineer the mandate of the province’s urban populace.
“The news conference of our MPAs along with Sattar told of how attempts are being made to force us into switching our loyalties.”
Sattar, chief of the party’s PIB Colony group, urges the speaker and the ECP to decide their applications seeking the unseating of the MPs who joined the PSP. “We support Khawaja Izharul Hasan and will move the authorities to stop these members from voting in case a change is attempted.”
The party, however, did nothing when the same members voted in the Senate elections the previous month.
Since its inception, the PSP has been accused of being installed by the military establishment. Kamal denies it. He says people join his party after being won over by his political philosophy.
In the early days, he refuted even getting involved in Mohajir politics. However, he repeatedly raised the cause seeking amnesty for the community, an insinuation that there have been injustices.
Senior columnist and educationist Dr Tauseef Ahmed Khan says that in the 70 years of the country, attempts by the military establishment to mould political scenarios according to their will have never been successful in the long run.
“Such parties remain on the scene for a while, and after that they vanish,” he adds, citing examples of the Republican Party made during Iskander Mirza’s era, the Convention Muslim League during Ayub Khan’s regime and the Mohajir Qaumi Movement-Haqiqi. He says that these attempts cause incidents such as the separation of East Pakistan.