MQM’s Brexit

KARACHI: MQM leaders Farooq Sattar, Amir Liaquat, Khawaja Izharul Hassan, Nasreen Jalil addressing a press conference at Karachi Press Club. INP PHOTO by Qaisar Khan
  • Party to be run from Pakistan, not London, says Farooq Sattar
  • Karachi leaders fall shy of unequivocal dissociation from Altaf
  • “What else do I need to say to elaborate minus one formula more?”
  • We totally dissociate ourselves from the violence that took place in Karachi yesterday”

Former Mayor and the MQM’s former deputy convener, Dr Farooq Sattar made a much-anticipated announcement at the Karachi Press Club that the party should operate from Pakistan alone. The allusive statement was only slightly shy of actually saying unequivocally that party Quaid Altaf Hussain will no longer be calling the shots at the MQM.

The press conference, which was delayed by at least two hours, was supposed to have taken place on Monday before Rangers took both Farooq Sattar and Khawaja Izhar into custody at Karachi press club.

After being released Tuesday morning, the same press conference was rescheduled for 3 PM at the same venue. Farooq Sattar, outside his house, spoke to media persons for the first time after his release in the morning and said that the agenda of the press conference was the same, and he would explain his point of view later on at Karachi Press club.

The senior MQM leader then took a detour to a private hotel where he met with other senior MQM leaders to have a pres conference discussion. The huddle lasted for more than an hour after which the contingent of MQM members arrived at Karachi Press club.

As soon as Farooq Sattar exited his vehicle, he faced media persons who were waiting for him, demanding that he first condemn the attacks on media offices that had taken place the day before and then begin the press conference. Farooq Sattar complied and fully condemned the attacks on media offices.

Dr. Sattar, along with MQM leaders Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Shaikh Salahuddin, Nighat Shakeel, Waqar Hussain, Muhammad Hussain, Asif Hussain, Saman Jafri and Dr Fouzia, began the conference by thanking the media for waiting for them.

An apologetic Dr Sattar said that the attack on the offices of media institutions was regretted and should not have happened. He said if they were not allowed to express their point of view yesterday and that this press conference should not be misconstrued as something that has been forced by some agencies or individuals.

He went on to say that yesterday’s events were ‘beyond our comprehension’ and simply ‘should not have happened’. Describing the events, he said that there were two issues that need to be addressed with respect to what happened on Monday.

First, he said that anti-state slogans that were not a part of MQM doctrine and principles. He said if anyone from MQM holds such views about Pakistan, they should form another party separate from MQM.

Secondly, he said that whoever uses the platform of MQM to attack media offices and portray the party in such a negative image is also not part of the party either.

Coming more to the point and the crux of the whole press conference, Farooq Sattar said that the consistently used excuse that Altaf Hussain is under mental pressure and hence made such statements, can no longer be accepted. That the time has come to address this problem and call it an illness.

Farooq Sattar used the terms ‘damage control’ to explain their current strategic position after Monday’s events. He said the statements of Altaf Hussain, by which he “ridicules” himself, and all members and workers of the party eliminated all the political gains from the weeklong hunger strike.

He continued by saying that from now onwards all decisions would be taken by “MQM Pakistan”. The words “MQM Pakistan” were repeated throughout the conference so as to reiterate the new stance of the party that all decision making would be done from Pakistan from now onwards.

Sattar added that this message was for both ‘here and there’, ‘there’ being a London where the actual headquarters of the party was.

Farooq Sattar kept being interrupted by questions from media about whether his statements were an outright separation from Altaf Hussain to which he consistently replied that this was all up to interpretation and he would not be more specific about it.

He ended the conference by saying that it is now ‘our responsibility’ to rid the MQM of its militant elements. With reference to this responsibility, he requested the security agencies to open their offices, particularly their head office nine-zero in Clifton Karachi.