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Serious efforts are underway to persuade different factions of the once unified Muttahida Qaumi Movement to agree on a minimum common agenda after the results of the recent cantonment boards election made clear that the party’s traditional Urdu speaking voters stayed aloof due to a constant war of words between rival leaders.
Background interviews and on-the-record conversations with several stakeholders suggest that the establishment — which had made a failed attempt to broker a deal between Pak Sarzameen Party and MQM-Pakistan around four years ago — is not behind the renewed efforts and it’s just a result of introspection.
Also, the efforts are not aimed at merging one party into another, but to initiate a dialogue that would likely to give a much-needed confidence and hope to the Urdu-speaking community that currently feels isolated and vulnerable.
Ex-governor Ebad is playing role from Dubai to bridge differences
There are roadblocks though as certain leaders enjoying senior positions in their respective parties do not want to give up their powers, but they have been told that if the situation persists, no party — the MQM-Pakistan, the PSP and Dr Farooq Sattar led PIB group — would stand a chance in the upcoming local government elections and 2023 general elections.
Cantonment polls setback and self-destruction
If the number of votes is anything to go by, the current leaderships of the MQM-P and the PSP have failed to make an impression on the Mohajir electorate during the cantonment boards’ polls as their collective votes were not more than the votes of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Pakistan Peoples Party.
It is learnt that during the last month’s cantonment boards’ election many workers of the MQM-P sensed their defeat and urged their leadership to take steps for unity otherwise they would stand no chance in any election.
Sources said there were a number of people not only in the MQM and the PSP, but those sitting on the sidelines too who wanted unity or at least that the leaders sit on a table to initiate a process that may lead to unification.
“We respect everyone... be it Mustafa [Kamal] bhai, Khalid [Maqbool Siddiqui] bhai or Farooq [Sattar] bhai. We don’t want to undermine their position, but we want all of them to keep aside their differences and sit together just for the sake of people of Karachi, especially Mohajirs,” said former MQM coordination committee member Waseem Aftab.
No member of the MQM-P and the PSP was willing to speak on the matter on the record.
While almost everyone recognises the importance of the Altaf Hussain factor in urban politics and that he still commands public support in Karachi and Hyderabad, there’s a consensus that his “Sindhudesh politics” are self-destructive in nature as it alienates even his own supporters from him.
A jury in London has found Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) founder Altaf Hussain not guilty of encouraging terrorism in Karachi contrary to section 1(2) of UK's Terrorism Act 2006.
At the Kingston Crown Court, a majority of the jury (10 out of 12) declared before Mrs Justice May that they had found Altaf Hussain not to be in violation of the UK’s anti-Terrorism laws on 22nd August 2016 when he made two speeches from London to his followers in Karachi.
Altaf Hussain had been charged with two counts of encouraging terrorism contrary to section 1(2) of the Terrorism Act 2006. These relate to two speeches Hussain made on 22n August – first in the morning UK Time and second in the afternoon UK Time – in which he had been alleged by the Crown to have published speeches to crowds “gathered in Karachi, Pakistan the contents of which were likely to be understood by some or all of the members of the public to whom they were published as a direct or indirect encouragement to them to the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism and, at the time he published them, intended them to be so encouraged, or was reckless as to whether they would be so encouraged”.
The CPS had alleged that Altaf Hussain had asked his followers to attack the offices of Geo, ARY and Samaa and shut down the transmission of Geo and other channels for not publishing his pictures, videos and statements after being banned by the Lahore High Court. Geo and Jang newspaper’s name came up in the proceedings repeatedly as Altaf Hussain mentioned in his speeches that Geo and other channels should be questioned and held accountable for not airing his speeches.
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