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September 14, 2018

Farooq Sattar quits Rabita Committee over ‘personal’ reasons


September 14, 2018

Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leader Dr Farooq Sattar on Thursday resigned from his membership of the party’s Rabita (coordination) Committee allegedly because of differences with his colleagues behind the wheel.

“I cannot continue to work as a member of the coordination committee due to personal reasons,” read Dr Sattar’s resignation letter shared by his media team. His resignation comes after the MQM-P’s decision to award the party ticket for the NA-243 (East-II) by-election to Amir Chishti.

Exactly a week ago Sattar had told The News that he has been receiving offers from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to jump ship, and that he was mulling over the said offers.

He had remarked that the behaviour of his colleagues at the MQM-P’s helm was encouraging other parties to suggest that he switch loyalties. The dissent within the MQM-P over its policies seems to be growing stronger.

On August 31 former lawmaker Ali Raza Abidi had quit the party citing similar “personal” reasons. He later said the MQM-P leadership had made him feel that he was not wanted in the party. “There were many other issues that had been accumulating and were hurting my life and career.”

He was reportedly disappointed by the party’s decision of not fielding him again in the East-II constituency, where he had finished runner-up behind PTI Chairman Imran Khan, who is now the country’s prime minister. Until the filing of this story, the MQM-P had not issued a statement to the media regarding Sattar’s resignation. Earlier in the day, the Rabita Committee had conducted a meeting and decided to award the party ticket for the NA-243 by-poll to Amir Chishti.

Previous reports from insiders suggested that Faisal Subzwari was the strongest among four candidates for being awarded the ticket. His candidacy was, however, questioned by some members.

Dr Sattar had told The News on September 6 that his association with the MQM had surpassed 35 years and it would be almost impossible for him to leave the party he had shared his ideology with. “I’ve spent my life here [with the MQM]. I may not be able to go anywhere else.” A day before that, talking to journalists at the anti-terrorism courts, he had said he was offered to contest the by-election in NA-247 on a PTI ticket.

The seat fell vacant after Arif Alvi, who had won the National Assembly constituency in the July 25 general elections, was elected president of the country.

It seems that the challenges within the MQM-P have resurfaced, as Sattar is seen neither in any of the decision-making meetings nor in the make-or-break negotiations with other parties.

This and Abidi’s departure points towards the possibility that the infighting within the MQM-P that led to the party’s split into the Bahadurabad and PIB Colony factions is still under way. The MQM-P leadership, however, denies that any rift exists within the party.

Aminul Haque, member of the party’s coordination committee, said that all the leaders are on board and every decision is taken after due consultations. He stressed that the party is moving forward instead of looking back.

Haque said the recovery of missing persons from Karachi and Hyderabad, development packages for the two cities and the establishment of higher educational institutions are among the party’s top priorities, for which they are negotiating with their political partner, namely the PTI.

Nevertheless, the MQM-P is going through a difficult time. Besides being split into more factions, it has lost the title of being the largest political party of Karachi, the economic and cultural hub of the country. The party can currently boast of only four MNAs and 13 MPAs, which is arguably its all-time low representation in the legislatures of the country.

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