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WHERE IS THE MQM HEADED?

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WHERE IS THE MQM HEADED?


The Muttahida Qaumi Movement has become a fragmented house over the past few years, divided into different factions and groups.

Azfar-ul-Ashfaque
March 13, 2022

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement has become a fragmented house over the past few years, divided into different factions and groups. Attempts to bring them together on one platform have failed in the past. Will renewed efforts to unite the factions be more successful? Who are the key players? And what does the future hold for the once unstoppable MQM?



On a February night scheduled programming on Pakistani news channels was interrupted by some breaking news from London. “Altaf Hussain beygunnah [Altaf Hussain is innocent],” one channel’s ticker announced. “Ba’ani Muttahida par jurm sabit na hosuka [Muttahida’s founder could not be found guilty],” another read.

Altaf Hussain had been acquitted in a trial on two counts of encouraging terrorism in Karachi from London. A sense of jubilation prevailed among those associated with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). And, despite an unannounced state ban, Hussain’s supporters took to the streets in Karachi and other cities and towns to celebrate the verdict.

As the trial came to an end, images of the MQM supremo, emotionally hugging his lawyer outside the Kingston-upon-Thames crown court, went viral on social media. Most news channels, however, stuck to showing exterior shots of the Crown Court as the reporters read out details of the ruling.

Ironically, during the speeches that resulted in the court case, Hussain had allegedly asked his followers to storm the studios of some of these channels. He had expressed displeasure at the channels for not broadcasting his pictures, videos and statements.


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There was a time, not too long ago, when images of the MQM leader would be plastered across Karachi, inspiring fear, admiration and derision. Those images continue to live in most Karachiites’ minds. They are also frequently shared online, often going viral as memes.

What these images represent may have changed, but they remain relevant nonetheless. As does Hussain and his party, that is going through an evolution of its own.

“[Hussain’s] return [in the political scene] is just a matter of time,” says a senior politician, who was once a part of the unified MQM. He claims that the establishment never ended “backchannel indirect contacts with him.” He adds that, sooner or later, “they will open the door to his return, as all other groups lack public support.”

He says a marked difference in Hussain’s stance was witnessed during the trial, as he not only publicly expressed remorse over raising anti-state slogans in his August 22, 2016 speech, but also chose to not repeat his views regarding a ‘Sindhudesh’ and Sindhi nationalist groups.

But while predictions of Hussain directly returning to the political scene may seem less likely, his party and different MQM factions seem to be building momentum to varying degrees. Attempts of reconciliation (that have thus far remained unsuccessful) between different factions have also continued to make headlines.

The MQM is clearly no longer the omnipotent force it once was in Karachi, and there is little denying that the party is down. But is it out? Or can the different factions come together and shake things up once again?
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Today, the MQM appears more divided than ever before. There are groups such as MQM-Pakistan, PSP, MQM-Haqiqi, MQM-Farooq Sattar, the US-based Voice of Karachi (VOK) and the Naujawanan-i-Karachi. Certain individuals, including former Sindh governor Dr Ishratul Ebad and ex-ministers Raza Haroon and Dr Sagheer Ahmed, are also active in the field.​

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A FRAGMENTED HOUSE

The once unstoppable MQM has become a fragmented house in the past few years.

First, in March 2016, former Karachi mayor Syed Mustafa Kamal challenged the dominance of Altaf Hussain by forming his own Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP). And then, on August 22, 2016, the state imposed an undeclared ban on Hussain, following his diatribe against the country and its security establishment.

The split resulted in the division of the Mohajir vote bank in the 2018 general election, which helped Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) replace the MQM as Karachi’s dominant electoral force. The PTI won 14 of Karachi’s 21 National Assembly seats.

Today, the MQM appears more divided than ever before. There are groups such as MQM-Pakistan, PSP, MQM-Haqiqi, MQM-Farooq Sattar, the US-based Voice of Karachi (VOK) and the Naujawanan-i-Karachi. Certain individuals, including former Sindh governor Dr Ishratul Ebad and ex-ministers Raza Haroon and Dr Sagheer Ahmed, are also active in the field. They are trying to fill the vacuum created after the ban on Hussain, who is leading his own faction from the UK, known here as MQM-London.

While the PSP and Afaq Ahmed’s MQM — better known as the MQM-Haqiqi, the first breakaway faction that was formed over 30 years ago — do not wish to be identified as MQM offshoots, there’s no denying that their leadership was once part of the MQM and they quit over tactical differences.

Among the groups, only MQM-Pakistan currently has a presence in both houses of parliament and the Sindh Assembly. The PSP and MQM-H had contested the 2018 general election but lost. The VOK, which is led by former MQM convener Nadeem Nusrat from Washington DC, is not a registered political party in Pakistan.

Excluding MQM-London, which has been facing the wrath of powers that be for the past many years, all other groups and factions take a cue from the powerful establishment that has been controlling the city’s politics with an iron grip after Hussain’s forced ouster from domestic politics.

The VOK was the first faction that had, in 2020, stressed the need for unity among all groups, factions and parties working for the rights of the people of urban Sindh. The group also presented a mechanism to bring all on one platform. But, over the years, coming together has proven to be a hard sell.

PROSPECTS OF A MERGER

A file photo shows PSP supporters protesting outside the Karachi Press Club | White Star


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Many in the various MQMs recognise that coming together may be the only answer for the party. But this remains a distant reality according to some, and an outright fantasy according to others.

The writer is a member of staff. He tweets @azfar_ashfaque

Published in Dawn, EOS, March 13th, 2022


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ziaulislam

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1-
Relaunch of MQM for karachi
2-
PMLQ PMLN joing hands for punjab
3-
Relaunch of . bilawal for sindh
4-
Relaunch of mualana for KPK
Thats the plan

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HAIDER

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May 21, 2006
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1-
Relaunch of MQM for karachi
2-
PMLQ PMLN joing hands for punjab
3-
Relaunch of . bilawal for sindh
4-
Relaunch of mualana for KPK
Thats the plan

View attachment 823806 View attachment 823807

MQM should go against Imran Khan, so this chapter should be closed completely. They deserve PPP. A party failed to perform for the last 30 years, especially in Musharraf era when they were in full control, they were busy in batha khuri and china cutting ... MQM should be dissolved and contest election under PPP , once in power make forward block .... Otherwise PPP never let Bhutto die ...
 

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