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May 16, 2018

After May 5 joint rally, MQM-P remains divided on who will lead


May 16, 2018

After banking on the Mohajir card just before the general elections – a move that unsurprisingly played well in their favour – the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s PIB and Bahadurabad groups have still not been able to decide on who will actually be running the party.

The latest trade of barbs between the groups suggests that they are again at a point where they both feel that taking more steps backward could cost either one of them the reins of the party.

Since its inception on August 22, 2016, the MQM-P has been facing administrative, organisational and financial crises, and during times when it should have overcome them, given the resources it has managed to accumulate since then, it has fallen deeper into the crises, which eventually led to the formation of the splinter groups.

The infighting between the two MQM-P groups stems from the powers that should and should not be with the convener, which is the highest post in the party after Altaf Hussain, the founding chief, has been disavowed. While the PIB Colony group seeks veto powers with the convener, the Bahadurabad group opposes it on the pretext that their past experience doesn’t allow them to support this clause.

Now that they are again on opposing ends after a virtual reunion in the convincing Liaquatabad public meeting of May 5, they, knowing the valuable street power that they make together, are trying to take as much leverage as they can before finally carrying on with the election campaigning.

MQM-P Bahadurabad leader Aminul Haque told The News that they already offered Farooq Sattar, the PIB Colony chief, to make him convener again but he insisted on having some powers with him that are “beyond acceptable”. “[Sattar] wants to issue party tickets in the elections and we cannot let him have that because it is against the established norms and the [party] constitution,” he said.

Haque added that when Imran Farooq was the convener, the party issued tickets through Sattar, when Nadeem Nusrat was convener, Sattar had the same responsibility. This time Sattar is the convener so technically he cannot assume the job but he definitely can give his suggestions and recommendations on ticket issuance, he said.

Sattar and his colleagues arguably saved the party from a complete ban during a crackdown in 2016. While he was in charge, his party negotiated with the authorities and started restructuring, while his colleagues who make up the Bahadurabad group opposed some his moves, which for them were unfair deals, like the botched merger with the Pak Sarzameen Party.

An MQM-P leader who requested not to be named said that predominantly they wanted to not let any person or a group in the party have enough powers that put them at par with Altaf Hussain. “This is dangerous. We have hardly recovered from the backlashes of the one-man, one-lobby show,” he said.

However, the party leadership in both the groups is convinced that they will have a future only when they are strong enough to reclaim the mandate in urban Sindh, or at least in Karachi, and that cannot happen until they reduce the competition by reuniting. That’s why they are optimistic about the reunion.

Even Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz chief Shahbaz Sharif, who is the chief minister of Punjab and got Rs8 billion released through Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for development packages in Karachi, wants to see a united MQM-P, not to mention that he apparently is also seeking political support from the party in return.

On the other hand, in a statement to The News, Nazia Ali, the spokesperson for the PIB Colony group, said that talks held between Sattar and the Bahadurabad group leaders on several occasions have stalled because the Bahadurabad leaders want to curtail the authority of the party leader pertaining to inherent functions such as the authority to issue tickets for elections and to register the party with the Election Commission of Pakistan in his name.

She added that Sattar was however confident that the mutual respect and trust in his leadership will soon be restored to as it was before the February 5 split.

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