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Friends and foes, except Farooq Sattar, attend MQM-P’s Iftar dinner

By Zia Ur Rehman
May 26, 2019

Although leaders of all major political and religious parties, figures from the business community, showbiz and media attended the Iftar dinner of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan at a hall in Karachi on Friday, participants were curiously noticed the participation of leaders of the MQM-P’s arch-rivals, such as Muhajir Qaumi Movement (commonly known as Haqiqi, a title it no longer uses), the Pak Sarzameen Party and the Muhajir Ittehad Tehreek.

Afaq Ahmed, Haqiqi’s chief, attended the event of its party’s nemesis, MQM-P, after a gap of over 25 years. He along with Aamir Khan formed the dissent group in 1990 after its splintering off from the MQM.

Also, Waseem Aftab and Salim Tajik, leaders of the PSP, a party formed by former two MQM leaders Mustafa Kamal and Anis Qaimkhani in 2016, also attended the Iftar dinner.

Dr Saleem Haider, head of the MIT, a group that was very influential in Muhajir politics in the province, especially in Hyderabad, back in the 1980s, was also among the participants of the MQM-P’s Iftar dinner. But most interestingly, the MQM-P did not invite Dr Farooq Sattar, its former convener who has been disgruntled from the party and has formed his own faction.

The presence of the MQM-P’s rivals at the Iftar dinner hinted that work on a new political alignment – formation of a broad-based alliance of Mohajir political parties - might be under consideration.

The programme was also attended by politicians belonging to the Pakistan Peoples Party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, component parties and individuals of the Grand Democratic Alliance, the Awami National Party, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl, the All Pakitan Muslim League and others.

Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, the MQM-P’s convener who is also the federal minister for information technology and telecom, along with senior leaders Amir Khan, Kanwar Naveed Jameel, Faisal Subzwari, Khwaja Izharul Hasan, Aminul Haq and others, welcomed the guests.

The list of guests included Railways Minister Shaikh Rashid Ahmed, former finance ministers Asad Umar and Miftah Ismail, the PPP’s Barrister Murtaza Wahab, provincial minister Shehla Raza, Waqar Mehdi and Rashid Rabbani, the PTI’s Khurram Sher Zaman and Haleem Adil Shaikh, the PML-N’s Nehal Hashmi, the PML-F’s Raja Saeen, Nusrat Sehar Abbasi and Sardar Abdul Raheem, former federal minister Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi, religious leaders Shah Turab Haq Qadri and Mufti Muhammad Naeeem, senator Raheela Gul Magsi, former chief minister Arab Ghulam Raheem, and the ANP’s Younas Bunariee.

Among celebrities, cricketer Shahid Afridi, actors Shahid Afridi and Behroz Sabzwari, and Arts Council of Pakistan’ s Ahmed Shah were in attendance.

The MQM’s convener Siddiqui said that the Iftar dinner was a representative dinner of Karachi in which people from all walks of life, including politicians, businessmen, religious scholars, sportsmen and actors, were present.

“The country is passing through a critical phase and there is a need to leave aside all our internal differences and to move forward,” he said.

The participants were curious to hear Afaq Ahmed’s views= about the attending MQM-P’s Iftar but he did not speak to the media.

An MQM-P leader spoke about the absence of Dr Sattar and said that the latter had been expelled from the party and that was why he had not been invited to the dinner.

However, a journalist attending the Iftar dinner viewed the meeting of leaders of Muhajir parties as “irrelevance meets irrelevance”.