The MQM, Pakistan’s fourth largest party which is run by Altaf Hussain from London, is the main political party in Karachi, a city of 20 million. The party traditionally represents the descendents of Urdu-speakers who migrated from India after the creation of Pakistan in 1947 but but it has long been blamed for ethnic violence in Karachi and has clashed repeatedly with the authorities.
Dubbed as the ‘Clean Karachi Campaign’, the drive kicked off today with the stated goal of cleaning the city and its ‘mindset’.
Special camps have been established in Lines Area, Kharadar, Korangi, Malir Town, and other parts of East, Center, West and South Karachi where volunteers have started cleaning roads and streets.
According to MQM, the campaign would continue till 5:00pm. The party leaders are visiting different areas to monitor the campaign.
Accumulation of garbage in absence of an effective disposal system has become a serious health hazard creating numerous infectious and other diseases in certain parts of the city.
Several areas already lack proper facilities for the collection and lifting of garbage resulting in insanitary conditions quite visible in almost all the localities of each town.
‘Clean Karachi Campaign’ by the MQM comes days after the political landscape of the metropolis witnessed turmoil with the return of Karachi’s former mayor and MQM leader Mustafa Kamal, who in his fiery press conference levelled serious allegations against the party leadership.
The drive was announced hours after MQM MPA Dr Sagheer Ahmed switched of loyalty towards Mustafa Kamal, leaving the political party of 28 years.
Last week, Mustafa Kamal returned home from self-imposed exile and launched a new political party to challenge the iron grip of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) on the city.
The political party is also under pressure from the paramilitary Rangers force, which launched an armed operation in the southern port city late in 2013 to tackle soaring crime rates.
Since then, hundreds of MQM workers have been arrested and a court has issued an arrest warrant for party boss Altaf Husain for threatening the army in a television address.
Mustafa Kamal, who won wide support as mayor of Karachi from 2005 to 2010 for his efforts to ease traffic and improve public services, leveled blistering criticism at Husain’s strongarm tactics.
Kamal left Pakistan in 2013 over reported differences with Husain, and had lived in Dubai since then.
In a tirade that lasted almost two hours, Kamal accused Husain of the murders of party workers, and of delivering speeches and making party policy while drunk. He said Husain personally ran the party’s militant wing.
Karachi is home to Pakistan’s stock exchange and handles all of the cash-strapped country’s shipping. It generates most of Pakistan’s tax revenue.
The Rangers crackdown and Kamal’s unprecedented attack have raised questions over who will control Pakistan’s financial heart in the future.
Altaf Husain is known for his fiery addresses to supporters in Karachi via a loudspeaker linked to a telephone in his London home. His hold on the sprawling and violent city is so strong he is capable of shutting down entire neighborhoods.
In 2010, MQM founding member Imran Farooq was stabbed to death in London. Party insiders say he had major differences with Husain before his death.
Altaf Husain is now under investigation in Britain for Farooq’s murder, as well as charges of money-laundering.
Last year, the authorities arrested two men suspected of killing Farooq. Both are affiliated with the MQM.
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