MQM-P chief says he’s leaving politics, retracts decision on mother’s ‘order’ as marriage with PSP fails to consummate
Sattar plays Muhajir card, vows not to go against workers’ wishes
Rejects Mustafa Kamal’s assertion that merger talks were ongoing for six months
MQM-P Rabita Committee says political alliance with PSP possible but party won’t cede its name, flag and seats in parliament
KARACHI: Minutes after bidding adieu to his party and politics apparently over an intra-party rift over the merger with the Pak Sarzameen Party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) chief Dr Farooq Sattar on Thursday took back his resignation on the request of his mother.
“I have taken my resignation back on the request of my mother,” said Sattar, as he sat beside his mother in his second presser of the day at his residence – amid chants of Sattar’s resignation not accepted by party workers and leaders.
Sattar, in his first presser, said he was quitting the party and politics as a result of frustration and lack of support by the MQM-P’s Rabita (Coordination) Committee and workers over the Wednesday presser along with Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) chief Mustafa Kamal where the two parties had announced to contest the 2018 general elections under “one name and one election symbol”.
Not surprisingly, the party’s coordination committee in an earlier Thursday presser backtracked from the decision to join hands with the PSP following an intra-party huddle.
The absence of the party chief, Sattar, in the meeting was conspicuous, as he was “upset with the committee”; however, the committee showed complete trust in his leadership.
Disillusioned by the reaction following his “botched” press conference with PSP’s Kamal, Sattar said, “I was saddened and hurt by the response I got [after the press conference]. I was disappointed with the response I got from PSP leaders and my own workers.”
“I don’t want to be part of the MQM at cost of self-respect,” Sattar said in his late-night presser.
Referring to the bone of contention, the Sattar-Kamal conference, the MQM-P leader said he was left disappointed by the response from the PSP chief and ex-comrade.
“Don’t go too far in spreading hatred against Altaf Hussain that you harm your own people. I could have said it all yesterday, but didn’t want to snatch the mic from Kamal bhai,” he said addressing the PSP chief.
“The decision about the merger had been taken after discussions with Khawaja Izharul Hassan, Wasim Akhtar, Kamran Tessori, Nasrin Jalil and then the Rabita Committee members,” Sattar said, complaining about a lack of visible support.
“In the press conference, PSP leaders only spoke against the MQM,” Sattar remarked, adding “I was the only one speaking about pursuing non-violent politics and ensuring security of the country.”
“MQM is here to stay; a party with a mandate cannot be buried,” Sattar said, rebutting to Kamal’s claims of burying the MQM in a meeting a day before the announcement of the merger.
Dismissing the claims of PSP-MQM-P’s six-month-old negotiations, the MQM-P chief said: “I have not met Mustafa Kamal personally; we’ve only interacted socially.”
Elaborating the reason for the alliance with the PSP, Sattar said that the MQM-P made the decision because it no longer wanted any bloodshed of the Muhajir community.
“There was a misunderstanding regarding the press conference, however. We never said that the MQM-P and its election symbol will cease to exist,” Sattar went on to say, adding that “kite is not just our symbol, but an important part of our life and manifesto”.
Expressing his resolve to serve the Urdu-speaking community of the metropolitan, he said the party— being the third biggest party in Senate — stood by the Muhajir community and would sacrifice anything for upholding the dignity of Pakistan.
RABITA COMMITTEE PRESSER:
Earlier in the day, the MQM-P Rabita Committee announced that the party’s name, flag, election symbol and manifesto would remain the same.
Following a high-level huddle, the committee said MQM-P candidates would contest elections in the constituencies where they had won seats in the previous elections, adding that the party leadership had put their trust in Farooq Sattar and wanted him to lead.
Speaking about the proposed alliance with the PSP, Jamil said that political alliances were quite a normal occurrence in the political scenario and that nothing was extraordinary about it. He cited the formation of Islami Jamhoori Ittehad and Pakistan National Alliance as examples, and said that the proposed alliance (with the PSP) had nothing to do with the party’s integrity.
“Farooq Sattar had referred to a political coalition just like the Islami Jamhuri Ittehad and Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal,” Jameel clarified.
Earlier, Kamran Tessori, a senior MQM-P leader, had announced that Kunwar Jamil would preside over the (Rabita Committee) session in place of Farooq Sattar.
“Sattar himself chose to remain absent from the session due to internal pressure from members of the party who threatened to quit if he were to head the huddle,” claimed sources in MQM-P.
An official communiqué from the party, however, stated that Sattar did not attend due to “personal commitments.”
According to reports, certain MQM-P members, including Kunwar Jamil, had reservations over the MQM-P and PSP merger.
Besides Sattar, Shabbir Qaimkhani and Amir Khan also chose to skip the Rabita Committee meeting.
Meanwhile, senior party leaders Rauf Siddiqui and Faisal Sabzwari clarified that the MQM-P was forming a political alliance with the PSP. “MQM-P will remain with its identity and PSP with theirs,” they said.
“We are just having a dialogue with PSP on the mechanism for a political alliance,” Sabzwari said. “MQM’s name, flag, symbol is present, and God willing will continue to remain present in future.”
Political observers believe that Farooq Sattar’s decision to resign may be an attempt to make a failed marriage—alliance between PSP-MQM-P—work, but it was apparently overruled by the party’s Rabita Committee, and, Sattar, unable to sustain the pressure from the committee, decided to quit politics.
Some observers also said that one of the reasons Sattar may have chosen to play this card was probably due to the fact that he had failed to deliver the MQM to the powers that be after failing to convince his comrades for the merger.
However, observers believe Sattar has played his cards right because he knows that the party workers would leave no stone unturned to bring him back to the party folds, thus making him a leader of the same stature as former party chief Altaf Hussain.