KARACHI - Pressed hard by the circumstance, MQM (Pakistan) and PSP yesterday announced an electoral alliance that could eventually lead to a complete merger.

The two offshoots of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) said they will contest the next general elections under “one name, one manifesto, one symbol and one party platform”.

Addressing a joint press conference along with Pak Sarzameen Party chairman Mustafa Kamal, MQM-P chief Farooq Sattar said they were joining hands for the greater good of Karachi as well as Mohajirs – the Urdu-speaking community.

“We have decided to form a political alliance because these testing times require us to do so... The modalities of this alliance will be decided in the days to come,” he said, explaining to the workers of both the parties that the move was aimed at preventing the city’s vote bank from splitting.

Farooq announced that this was “only a political alliance” and “neither of the parties will lose their identities”.

PSP chief Mustufa Kamal said on the occasion that the name to be adopted for the alliance would be anyone but MQM , as this tag could not be disassociated from Altaf Hussain.

Led by Altaf Hussain, MQM had been country’s fourth largest political party, ruling most of the urban Sindh for last 35 years. But the party has been facing serious challenges for last many months.

The party went deep into trouble when its London-based founder went wild in his speeches, condemning the state institutions, demanding separation of Mohajirs and inviting India to help him in the cause. All this forced Sattar-led MQM flock in the country to announce severance from Altaf-led group, though this public divorce has always been seen with suspicion.

Farooq Sattar said they were forging the alliance as they [he and Mustufa] both wanted a “better future for the city” and sought to ensure that Karachi “never faces the kind of political violence it witnessed in the past”.

Also, this coming together of the two flanks of MQM is for the protection of political and economic rights of the Mohajirs, he said. “We want our due share in the development of this city. We want to be counted. We want jobs for our youth,” Farooq went on to say.

“We seek a good working relationship and a political alliance with each other… PSP and MQM had been deliberating these points in the recent past. We need good statesmanship at this juncture. To this end, we need a positive and combined effort,” MQM chief said.

“We will present the narrative of our aims and purposes after meeting each other and deciding on key points, he said.

Out of the political necessity, Farooq Sattar then sought to deliver a message to the establishment by daring to divorce from the Mohajir-specific approach.

“Instead of only focusing on the problems of Karachi and the rest of Sindh, we must take measures to address the issues of the entire country,” he said, adding that they would also invite other political parties functioning in urban and rural Sindh to join this political alliance .

Mustufal Kamal in his address said: “On behalf of the Pak Sarzameen Party, I endorse Farooq Sattar Bhai’s position when he says that we want to continue our struggle under one symbol and one party.

“The gist of Farooq Bhai’s speech is that we need one manifesto, one symbol and one party to continue our struggle for the people of Pakistan.”

He said a large number of the Pukhtoons, Sindhis, Punjabis, Baloch and other communities were also residing in the mega city of Karachi, and it would be unwise and unsafe for them to continue Moharij-specific politics.

The PSP chief asserted that if a Mohajir is not ready to embrace others as a leader, he will encourage more hatred against the Mohajir community. This has been the reason why Karachi has been so wracked by violence.

“It is for the sake of Pakistan; for the sake of the Mohajir community that I do not want my politics to be solely about Mohajirs. There should be no areas in the city that are inaccessible to members of one ethnic group or the other.

“I appreciate that Farooq Bhai took such a major step. That he set his ego aside. We took these decisions not because of how much we would individually gain or lose, but how much our people would gain or lose,” maintained Mustafa Kamal.

Appeal for amnesty

PSP chief asked the security forces to forgive the youth and people of Karachi like they announced an amnesty for the youth of Balochistan who had fought against the state. He said that the youth of Karachi should also be given a choice to join the mainstream.

At least 300 workers [of the former MQM] were still missing, he said and requested the authorities to give them one more chance.

“Give them a chance to reform. If they step out of line [ and are found to be involved in misconduct] once again, we will hand them over to LEAs ourselves,” Mustufa Kamal asserted.

He hoped that the announcement to form a political alliance will also put a stop to the politically motivated arrests of MQM and PSP workers.

 

Meanwhile, Farooq Sattar also demanded that they should be allowed a level-playing-field to carry out political activities.

“We hope that illegitimate raids against the party workers will stop now,” he said, adding, “We also hope that missing workers will be recovered” following the formation of the alliance .

“We [also] hope that our political offices that are legal, but have been sealed, would be returned to us,” MQM chief added.

Both the leaders said they wanted to salvage the Mohajir community and make sure that they are not left “uncounted or unrepresented”.

Though Farooq said the alliance will not lead the two parties to lose their identity, observes say it has all potential to lead to a complete merger of the two parties as dividends of unity will compel them to stay together in future.

 

 

Altaf bashing

Without naming MQM founder Altaf Hussain, Mustufa Kamal said that “one man was pushing the Mohajirs into the abyss.

“Drunk out of his senses, he would demand the splitting of a province. The Mohajir community was the one suffering, they would be the one who would face the embarrassment of his speeches.

“Today, we are entering this historic agreement. I thank the workers of both parties for enabling this… we have left our personal liking and disliking far behind; now, we are focused on the people of this city.”

Though the modalities of the newly envisioned political alliance will be announced later, Mustufa said “it would be anything but MQM”.

“I am not backing down from what I stand for — we came to bring down Altaf Hussain and destroy his toxic legacy,” he maintained.

“Right from the day one we held opinion that Altaf Hussain was, is and will remain the chief of Muttahida Qaumi Movement… Therefore the alliance will not function under the name of MQM .

“We began our journey to end Altaf Hussain’s undue influence on the people of Karachi and we have not retreated on that.”

The PSP chief said, “Farooq Sattar may not be comfortable with PSP at this moment, but we have categorically decided that we will not unite under the name of MQM .”

 

 

Opposition to alliance

As Farooq Sattar and Mustufa Kamal were announcing their joint political ambitions, MQM leader and lawmaker Ali Raza Abidi announced to part ways from the party and the decision to resign from his National Assembly seat.

“Ladies n Gentlemen from the Holy land of Karbala, I announce to quit MQMP n resign from NA251 as this is not what I believed in n stood for,” he tweeted.

MQM deputy convener Amir Khan was also not present in the country at this key occasion and party sources said that some MQM-P leaders raised objections regarding forming of alliance with the PSP .

MQM leaders Khawajha Izharul Hassan, Faisal Sabzwari, Kamran Tissori, and PSP leaders Anis Qaimkhani, Raza Haroon, Dr Sagheer Ahmed and others were present on the occasion.

The heads of two parties presided over separate party meetings at their party headquarters to discuss the move before holding the press conference at Karachi Press Club which faced delays.

Opposing the alliance , the MQM-P workers raised slogans against the party leadership ahead of the press conference. The media men reacted to the ruckus by announcing to boycott the press conference, but the situation was controlled by the hard efforts of Farooq Sattar and Mustafa Kamal.

 

 

MQM , PSP forge alliance amid protest


 

Farraz Israr