A turning point in MQM’s history?
For the first time in MQM’s history the party has declined to defend Altaf Husains’s anti-Pakistan diatribe and the attack by party workers on media houses in Karachi. Farooq Sattar instead condemned those who shouted anti-Pakistan slogans and vandalised the media offices. What is more Sattar picked up the courage to announce that the party in Pakistan was the real MQM and would henceforth take decisions independently of the leadership stationed in London. Referring to Altaf Hussain’s outburst against Pakistan Sattar said statements of the sort issued again and again have created problems for the party and it can no longer bear their consequences. By issuing apologies and ascribing the statements to mental stress that he was allegedly undergoing, Altaf Hussain made a laughing stock of himself and the party. He assured that never in future would statements of the sort be allowed to be announced from the party forums.
Farooq Sattar seems to enjoy the support of the MQM parliamentarians and members of the party hierarchy. In fact he held consultation with them before proceeding to hold the press conference. Several prominent party leaders were present at Karachi Press Club when he spoke. Quite a few others had already dissociated themselves from Altaf Hussain’s recent remarks through media statements. It must have been a difficult decision for Sattar to cut the umbilical cord, but this was the only way to save the MQM from legal proceedings and political isolation.
Farooq Sattar maintained a semblance of ambivalence by avoiding condemning Altaf Hussain by name. He even parried the question if he was supporting the ‘minus one’ formula. This was perhaps required in view of the party cadres’ sentimental attachment to Altaf Hussain. Hopefully the party leadership would persuade common workers that the decision was in party’s best interest. There is a need on the part of the MQM to also bid farewell to its militant past and act as a genuine parliamentary party.