KARACHI: In extraordinary developments on Tuesday, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Pakistan distanced itself from controversial anti-Pakistan statements made by the party leadership in London, with Deputy Convener Farooq Sattar taking control of the party leadership.
Sattar, flanked by senior leaders of the party, announced at a press conference in Karachi that future party decisions would be made by the MQM Rabita Committee in Pakistan.
The announcement followed a crackdown by the Sindh Rangers on MQM leaders and offices after party workers stormed media offices on the directives of party chief Altaf Hussain, who lives in self-exile in London.
Several anti-Pakistan slogans were raised during the party chief’s live telephonic speech on Monday. At least one person was killed in the violence that ensued after the provocative speech.
But, at the press conference here today, the party distanced itself from the controversial anti-state slogans.
“Such statements should not have been chanted,” he said. Sattar said it was not the policy of the MQM to attack media houses as he condemned what transpired on Monday.
“Please give us the chance to tell you what our heart says,” said Sattar, who along with five top MQM leaders and several other workers, was taken into Rangers custody last night but released earlier today.
“Whether it is a worker or the leader of the party, the MQM will not allow this to happen again. This was wrong and it should not have happened. And our leader also apologized,” he said, speaking about an incident where party workers were incited by its party chief to attack an ARY office.
For the first time the MQM leader openly talked about the party chief’s mental illness. “We have also made another decision. We have decided that if there is any mental stress. This problem should be addressed.”
“I respect Quaid-e-Tehreek Altaf Hussain. The result is that the political gains that we had achieved, all of Pakistan had begun to realize that we had some valid reasons, but with only one mistake you are yourself ridiculed and all the party and its voters and supporters are also ridiculed,” he said, claiming that political gains that their hunger strike made were sabotaged by a political chief’s mistake.
“If this thing is recurring time and again, we have decided that sanity needs to prevail, and that damage control needs to be taken. Our decision, and our advice is that this cannot be repeated from the MQM platform,” he added.
Sattar said that peace in Karachi needs to be maintained at all cost. “So, without counting our part in this joint effort…we never asked for this operation to be shut down. Because our policy yesterday and even today remains committed to zero-tolerance for criminals.”
He demanded that Nine-zero be opened again. “All offices should be unsealed.”
He asked workers to prepare for the mayoral election expected tomorrow.
Earlier Sattar met senior MQM leaders at a local hotel including Nasreen Jalil and Arshad Vohra, sources confirmed.
Speaking to the media outside his residence Farooq Sattar said that he will continue MQM’s mission and spread the party’s message forward.
There is silence at the MQM international secretariat in London following the party chief’s controversial address yesterday, our UK correspondent confirmed.
Farooq Sattar, Khawaja Izhar, Dr Aamir Liaquat and some other party workers were nabbed by Rangers last night when they were coming to address a press conference following MQM party workers’ attack on media houses in Karachi – an action incited by MQM chief Altaf Hussain’s inflammatory speech during the hunger strike organized by the party at Press Club.
Video footage available with media showed Farooq Sattar asking the Rangers personnel for two minutes to address his workers. A Rangers officer took him away, along with Khawaja Izhar.
Around 50 MQM workers and five top leaders were detained by law enforcement agencies following the violence on Monday. The detained leaders included Farooq Sattar, Khawaja Izharul Hassan, Arshad Vohra, Khawaja Sohail and Dr Aamir Liaquat Hussain.
Altaf Hussain’s speech to participants in the hunger strike incited party workers to take to the streets yesterday, ransack media houses and vandalise property. At least one person died and eight others were injured during the violent attacks in which around 2,000 party workers participated.
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