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After speculations lasting a few months, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and the Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) announced a political alliance, joining hands under “one manifesto, one symbol and one party” for the general elections in 2018.
“We have decided to form a political alliance because it is crucial in these trying circumstances,” MQM-P chief Dr Farooq Sattar said at a joint press conference with PSP leader Mustafa Kamal.
“We will chalk out a strategy for the next elections under one name, [one] manifesto and [one] symbol,” he added.
“In urban Sindh, our vote has been divided. We need a strategy to evict encroachment upon our votes by feudals of rural Sindh,” Sattar said, appealing to MQM and PSP workers to shun all differences and help evolve a consensus.
Describing the alliance as “necessary to secure government jobs for Mohajirs”, he said it was also crucial to work against the ‘discriminatory’ policy of the incumbent federal government.
He said that instead of just focusing on problems of Karachi and Sindh, “we must address challenges confronting the country.”
Sattar said political violence must never be allowed to return in Karachi. “[Towards this end] MQM and PSP have decided to forge a working relationship. We plan to enter elections with a joint slogan, joint manifesto and joint electoral sign.”
He made it loud and clear that political violence between workers of the two parties would no longer be tolerated.
The MQM-P chief said they would invite other political parties in urban and rural Sindh to join their alliance.
“We hope that illegal raids against party workers will stop now … we also hope that missing workers will be recovered,” he said. “Both parties will keep their individual identities intact. This is just a political alliance … a pledge to work together,” he said.
Speaking on the occasion, Kamal endorsed Sattar’s views. “We are ready to wage a struggle for the people living in Sindh under a joint manifesto and name,” he said.
“Since our inception, we believed that Altaf Hussain was, is and will remain chief of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement. Therefore, this alliance will not function under the name MQM,” he made it clear.
Echoing Sattar’s words, Kamal said both PSP and MQM would keep their separate identities intact, but “a new party will be launched just for the 2018 general elections”.
The PSP chief asserted that he did not want to base his politics on the Mohajir card.
The alliance, he said, would take on board all communities and ethnic groups. A large number of Sindhis, Punjabis, Baloch and Pakhtuns were currently living in the city, he said, adding that he did not want to prioritise his own community.
“In the past, ethnic politics resulted in massacres. Why resort to ethnic politics at all? Why don’t we elect our CM and PM with the help of different communities and ethnicities,” he said. “God willing we will bring our CM in Sindh in 2018 and prime minister in 2025,” he said.
Referring to the MQM founder, the PSP chief said that one man used to create hatred between Sindhi and Urdu-speaking communities who had lived together in the province for decades. “We have to set new precedents… we want to live in peace. This is the only way to progress and prosperity,” he remarked.
Discouraging Mohajir politics, he said: “We don’t want no-go areas for any ethnicity.”
He praised the political wisdom of Farooq Sattar, and also himself rejected the interim results of census. “If people cannot be counted correctly, nothing positive can be done [in the country].”
According to him, at least 300 workers of former MQM were still missing. “I request the authorities concerned to give them one last chance.”
Who will lead the party?
Reports are rife that former army chief General (retd) Pervez Musharraf would lead the party from Dubai.
Meanwhile, former governor Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan is also likely to become part of the new party.
Soon after the presser, Musharraf said he was pleased to know that the alliance had been forged.
In a video message, he said that he sympathised with Mojahirs not the MQM, which had defamed itself. “MQM has no space in Pakistan’s politics,” he said, adding that Urdu-speaking people suffered because of MQM.
An MQM-P leader, MNA Ali Raza Abidi, angrily reacted by quitting the party and his National Assembly seat (NA-251), minutes after the alliance was announced.
He tweeted: “Ladies (and) gentlemen … From the holy land of Karbala, I announce to quit MQM-P and resign from NA-251 … This is not what I believed in.”