- The drama continues
It’s the final countdown for MQM’s (or shall we say, MQM-PIB’s?) Dr Farooq Sattar. By April 11, Sattar would find out where he stands in the MQM, in particular, and on the whole in Pakistani politics in general.
Sattar’s whirlwind journey began when the party’s former chief, Altaf Hussain, wrote his exile into permanence on August 22, 2016 with that ‘anti-Pakistan’ rant. While parting with its former, abusive chief might just prove to be a good thing for MQM – it might lead to the party’s better acceptance across the country, since much of the objection against the MQM was thanks to their so-called Quaid-e-Tehrik and his shenanigans – it has left the remainder of the leadership in a quandary. None more so than his former second-in-command, Farooq Sattar, himself.
The mess left behind by the removal of Aftab from MQM’s leadership was covered well by the local media. It looked on keenly as the party’s remaining leadership quarreled amongst themselves and shredded itself into two factions: the Bahadurabad and PIB Colony factions. While the latter is led by Farooq Sattar, the former’s “convener” is Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui.
Following ECP’s decision against him, Sattar complained that the decision against him was a “managed” one. “At first I had used the word ‘engineered’ politics at the time of the PSP-MQM merger. Now I’m using the word ‘managed’ for a reason,” he told a private news agency
Sattar believes that the PPP and “state machinery” is behind the split in the party’s ranks, and, hence, behind the rise of Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Amir Khan, and the rest of the Bahadurabad faction’s who’s who. Though that may sound like a conspiracy theory, Sattar might well be right. The events of the past six months, in general, and the past two months, in particular, are somewhat of an evidence.
Since Farooq Sattar threatened to quit parliament six months ago should political and state actors continue to intervene in MQM’s internal matters (i.e. causing a rift amongst its ranks), the divide between the two Karachi-based factions of MQM-P has not healed, becoming deeper and more pronounced, instead. This fact became most apparent post-February 5, when the party decided upon the distribution of tickets for the Senate elections. Evidently the party and its members were not accepting Sattar, his leadership, and his decisions as indisputable as they did Altaf Hussain’s. To settle matters, the party’s leadership decided to hold intraparty elections for the seat of the party’s “convener” – note the absence of the word “president”, or “quaid”, which could only be used for Altaf – which were held on February 18, and Sattar was elected to the seat by a wide margin. Immediately after the decision, the MQM-P Bahadurabad faction filed a petition with the Election Commission of Pakistan, demanding Sattar’s election to be ruled as illegal.
Though the ECP rejected the faction’s earlier plea seeking to suspend Sattar from his position temporarily, the Commission later tracked back on its decision and on March 26 declared Sattar’s election as MQM-P’s Convener as null and void. Something tells us that Sattar was already aware of his fate when he complained that the ECP had no right to interfere in intraparty matters, despite himself petitioning with it to disband the Raabta Committee. His behaviour smelled like that of a very apprehensive and defensive man, who was desperate to hold his own in times of unprecedented crisis. He was no longer sheltered by Altaf’s presence and undisputed leadership – he was on his own.
Following ECP’s decision against him, Sattar complained that the decision against him was a “managed” one. “At first I had used the word ‘engineered’ politics at the time of the PSP-MQM merger. Now I’m using the word ‘managed’ for a reason,” he told a private news agency. “Everyone had formed a consensus regarding my name as the chief of the party after Altaf Hussain. Now, the minus-2 formula is being implemented so that Karachi’s vote bank gets divided.”
“It is a conspiracy to ensure that PSP, PTI and PPP secure seats in areas where MQM-P would have won,” he explained.
Furthermore, PPP’s leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, Khurshid Shah, advised Farooq Sattar to accept the ECP’s decision commenting that “MQM has let down the people of Karachi, Hyderabad, and Sukkur” and that “power is temporary but institutions are permanent.”
A cornered Sattar defiantly challenged ECP’s decision in the Islamabad High Court, two days after the ECP removed him from his position, on March 28, 2018. And the very next day, the IHC reinstated Sattar as the convener of the MQM until it takes a decision over the matter on April 11, ruthlessly overriding the ECP and its decision.
What must one do when the so-called “permanent institutions” cannot even agree with each other over a simple, legal matter, Mr Khurshid Shah? Clearly, when the institutions themselves play into the hands of the establishment and vested interests, it is time to reconsider their indisputability and “permanence”.