Who will survive -- PSP or MQM?

April 3, 2016

There is a tug of war between the parties in sectors and units of MQM. April 7 by-election will be a deciding factor

Who will survive -- PSP or MQM?

"We were expecting something to happen months ago because they were not in contact since long. But now they won’t be able to take any more wickets," claims Amin-ul Haq, head of Information Department of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) while referring to the newly-established Pak SarZameen Party (PSP) headed by former Nazim of Karachi Mustafa Kamal.

Almost a month after dropping the political bombshell in Karachi, Mustafa Kamal and his associates, at a crowded press conference, unveiled the name and flag of their newly-formed party on March 23 in Karachi. During the March 3 presser, both dissident leaders of the MQM alleged that their former supremo Altaf Hussain has ties with Indian prime intelligence agency RAW (Research & Analysis Wing).

These allegations against MQM and its chieftain Altaf Hussain are not new. But the tirade has once again sparked a debate that was started in 1990s when an operation was launched in Sindh, especially in Karachi. However, this time there are reports that the United Kingdom has collected evidence of alleged funding of RAW to Karachi’s largest political party.

Later, five more former leaders of MQM including Dr. Sagheer Ahmed, Waseem Aftab, Raza Haroon, Iftikhar Alam and Anees Advocate joined the bandwagon of Kamal and Qaimkhani.

"The MQM is facing a series of challenges -- internal rifts, trust deficit among coordination committee members, Altaf Hussain’s health, his derogatory and embarrassing remarks and a ban on his speech," says senior journalist Mazhar Abbas.

Mustafa Kamal and Anees Qaimkhani claimed in their meeting with the media on March 3 that they had known about the MQM’s links with the RAW for the last five years. Referring to a meeting held in Dubai in 2010, Kamal disclosed that senior leaders of the party at the London Secretariat, Mohammad Anwar and Tariq Mir, shared details of the Scotland Yard findings on the party’s alleged connection with the RAW. The former Nazim of Karachi alleged that the then Interior Minister Rehman Malik was also present in the briefing.

One wonders, why didn’t Kamal inform police or any other security agency of the country about the Dubai meeting? Did he not commit a crime by concealing the facts?

In fact there have been a number of occasions in the past five years when Kamal has defended the MQM and its leaders. The proof is available with various news channels in form of archives.

Among those who have joined Kamal’s Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP), Dr. Sagheer Ahmed is the only one who was active in the MQM. The rest were sidelined. But Anees Qaimkhani was the real blow to Altaf Hussain and his MQM. It is believed that Qaimkhani ran the core structure of the party -- sectors and units. It emerged that Qaimkhani was the most trusted person of Altaf Hussain in Karachi. He was so entrenched in the party cadre that directives were issued by Hussain that if there was any problem in contacting him, Qaimkhani should be consulted. The MQM MNAs, MPAs and senior leaders were compelled to follow Qaimkhani’s orders.

Background interviews reveal that the differences between Anees Qaimkhani and the MQM emerged when Amir Khan re-joined the party, and began to approach workers of sector and unit level. The midnight event of May 18, 2013, at Nine Zero, where the MQM workers manhandled senior party leaders, was a major catalyst in breaking ties of Kamal and Qaimakhani with the MQM.

A former high-ranking intelligence official says Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui was the key character of the May 18 midnight episode. "On the same night, Mustafa Kamal felt so threatened that he called Governor Sindh Dr Ishrat-ul-Ebad and requested him to rescue his family. Ebad called a top official of law enforcement agency, who dispatched a contingent, that evacuated Kamal’s family. The Sindh Governor was the only one who knew the whereabouts of Kamal and his family. He also helped Kamal flee the country."

During the March 3 press briefing a journalist said that there are reports Qaimkhani ran the party’s militant wing. He asked him, "Did you issue directives for the bloodbath in the city?"

Anees Qaimkhani replied, "I am a political man and was a deputy convener of the MQM".

At this point Mustafa Kamal chipped in. "The death squads are being run from South Africa not from Karachi".

Once again, the question arises that did they ever share the details with any law enforcement agency (LEA) and, if not, why?

The former high-ranking intelligence official claims that Anees Qaimkhani knew about the South Africa setup, and was well-aware who was demanding extortion from doctors in Karachi. He says, "The directives for violent activities were issued from London but were transmitted through various channels. It included via London, South Africa to Pakistan, via London, Sri Lanka to Pakistan, via London, Malaysia to Pakistan even via London, Canada to Pakistan. Those orders were passed on while using BBM, emails, Viber and a few other applications".

Presently, Dr Farooq Sattar is running the MQM’s political affairs while Amir Khan is looking after the business of sectors and units. Nine Zero, the MQM headquarter, has serious realisation that some corrupt leaders used the party for their personal gains and that the politics of violence will not survive anymore.

The million-dollar question is will Kamal and company be successful in shaking the MQM? "Kamal is confused. He is talking about federation instead of addressing the problems of urban centres, which is the real base of the MQM," says Mazhar Abbas, continuing that the PSP will only damage the PTI vote bank in the metropolis.

The real battlefield between the MQM and the newly-established PSP is the control of sectors and units. It is believed that Qaimkhani still enjoys great influence over these setups.

Last week, the PSP leaders visited Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas and received a warm welcome. Workers respect him immensely.

Amin-ul-Haq believes, "the real challenge is to keep the party structure intact and move forward and in the leadership of Altaf Hussain. You will witnessed on April 7 in the by-election that the MQM will once again emerge as the only torch bearer for the rights of Karachiites".

"It will take two to three year for them to established the PSP and that too depends on how they run their affairs," the intelligence official says. But, "Kamal has a trump card [Anees Qaimkhani]; he can perform this job very well, but if he fails or ignores this fact, the party will become another Haqiqi".

Who will survive -- PSP or MQM?