KARACHI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s (MQM-P) Chief Farooq Sattar said his utmost efforts are aimed towards saving the party from splitting up.
“My utmost effort is aimed towards stopping this party from splitting. We can not let 40 years of efforts go to waste,” said the MQM-P chief while addressing a press conference at his PIB Colony residence.
Sattar and the party’s Rabita Committee have been at loggerheads over the allotment of Senate tickets and the rift intensified as the latter wrote a letter to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), informing the ECP that the authority to issue party tickets rests with the committee, not the party chief.
During the press conference, the embattled MQM-P chief said that if four new names can be agreed upon between “PIB and Bahadurabad, then I will take the first flight to Bahadurbad”.
Sattar clarified that the current issue does not stem from stubbornness or ego, however, he maintained that the issue is not about Tessori’s Senate nomination, rather the “issue is something else entirely”.
The MQM-P chief further said the issue emerging from the Senate nomination was not supposed to go public, as it is the first rule of the party to keep its matters private.
Welcoming the difference of opinion, Sattar said it is the beauty of a democratic party that difference of opinion is solved through discussion.
Earlier today, the Rabita Committee, in what seemed to be a new attempt to appease disgruntled chief Farooq Sattar, announced to rescind a letter it had written to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
In a new turn of events, the Rabita Committee announced to visit Sattar at his residence in Karachi’s PIB Colony during a media address at the party’s Bahadurabad office.
“We are going to make a new attempt today,” party leader Kanwar Naveed Jamil had told journalists. “We are rescinding the letter earlier sent to the ECP and the deputy convener is on his way to meet Sattar.”
‘Impression being created that I am trying to hijack party’
Senior deputy convener Amir Khan said that attempts were being made to give an impression that he was trying to hijack the party.
“Attempts are being made to create an impression that I am trying to hijack the party,” a tearful Khan told the journalists. “[People] are also trying to create an impression that there is a rift between Sattar and I.”
He refuted rumours about his desire to get a prominent position in the party.
“I am happy to work as a party member…I have never wanted to have a position in the party,” he said. “You don’t get respect from positions.”
‘It is a constitutional war now’
The stalemate between the party’s two factions had continued through Friday night as they failed to reach an agreement over candidates for next month’s Senate elections, with Sattar declaring all Rabita Committee meetings and decisions as “unconstitutional”.
The Rabita Committee had continued its efforts to convince Sattar but its attempts remained futile. The impasse continued overnight as both factions held press conferences, one after another.
Scheduling a general workers’ meeting for 4PM on Sunday, Sattar said he had extended the “deadline” and informed the other faction that he would be sending a show cause notice today.
“It is a constitutional war now,” Sattar noted, adding that he would also pen a letter today to ask the Rabita Committee to rescind their letter to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
“This letter is an indication of ‘no confidence’ in me,” he claimed, going on to make further assertions that the Committee attempted to “snatch away my rights without informing me” and that he was “stabbed in the back”.
Reasoning that the whole fiasco was created “because I don’t have the kind of ‘stick’ that the MQM founder used to deploy”, Sattar appealed to all the party workers to come out Sunday and “save the party”.
He also hinted that a change in the party’s top-tier leadership.
“I will also be making a decision about my leadership in the same meeting.”
Salman Mujahid joins MQM
Following a meeting with Sattar, Pak Sarzameen Party’s (PSP) Salman Mujahid Baloch resigned to join MQM, a spokesperson of the MQM-P chief stated.
MNA Salman Mujahid Baloch, who was expelled from MQM-P in October over violation of ethics, had joined Pak Sarzameen Party on December 8.
The MNA had alleged he was being punished for raising his voice against the expulsion of another ex-party member, Irum Azeem Farooque.
While addressing a news conference held on the occasion of Mujahid’s induction in the party, the PSP chief Mustafa Kamal had said people from MQM-P join his party every other day.
Salman Mujahid was elected to the National Assembly from NA-239 Kemari.
While speaking to journalists outside his residence earlier in the night, Sattar described the Committee’s claims as “propaganda” that he was unwilling to meet them despite repeated invitations.
He said he had no issue in holding a meeting with the members of the Rabita Committee at their Bahadurabad office.
However, “writing a letter to the ECP was an unconstitutional act,” Sattar said, waving a copy of the letter written earlier by the Rabita Committee to the ECP.
Further, the MQM-P convener questioned the urgency to send the letter to the ECP.
Sattar said the committee had also nominated candidates for the Senate elections in its letter, questioning the need for him to go and hold a meeting with them then.
The Committee’s letter to the ECP revokes his right as party convener to make nominations for candidates to the Senate, National Assembly, and local bodies’ elections, Sattar added.
Earlier, the leader had vowed to meet the Rabita Committee should it choose to respond. If, however, it did not opt to do so, he said he would consult a smaller meeting of his party workers, ahead of a larger convention.
The MQM-P leader said he had conveyed through a delegation that visited him earlier his suggestion to the Rabita Committee to drop all the names for the Senate candidatures and pick new ones altogether.
A three-member delegation — comprising Rauf Siddiqui, Rehan Hashmi, and Javed Hanif — visited Sattar at his PIB Colony residence on Friday. Sattar held a meeting with Siddiqui and Hashmi that lasted two hours.
Following the meeting, Siddiqui returned to the party’s Bahadurabad office, without responding to any questions from the reporters.
Fail to understand Tessori’s importance: Sabzwari
“I cannot comprehend how Kamran Tessori has this kind of importance,” Faisal Sabzwari said as he spoke to reporters. He added that Sattar had told Rabita Committee members the party would not take part in the Senate elections if Tessori did not contest.
During the news conference, Sabzwari maintained that Sattar remained the party chief; however, all authority rests with the Committee. “It is the Rabita Committee which would hand over authority to the convener or party chief,” he added.
When asked about the decision to write a letter to the ECP, Sabzwari responded, “This decision was taken when we were unable to meet Farooq bhai (brother) at his residence last night.”
The rift between PIB Colony and Bahadurabad factions intensified after the Rabita Committee wrote the letter to the ECP in an attempt to wrest authority from Sattar. The letter informed the ECP that the authority to issue party tickets rests with the Rabita Committee, not the party chief.
The letter also stated that as per Section 19(a) of the party’s constitution, the authority to nominate candidates for election rests with the Rabita Committee.
It further adds that the Rabita Committee had in its session finalised the names of candidates for the Senate elections.
It informed the ECP that the authority to write letters to the commission, with regard to the candidates, rests with Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, and, if the power to issue tickets to candidates rested with any individual, it stood withdrawn.
The developments come at a time when divisions between the party chief and members of the Rabita Committee have widened.
Both sides have fielded separate candidates for the Senate election.
The issue stemmed from Sattar wanting to award a Senate ticket to Kamran Tessori, a move opposed by some members of the Rabita Committee.
“This seems like an internal coup against Sattar whose stand for Tessori seems to be backfiring,” analyst Shahzeb Khanzada said.
“There are several reasons why this issue was not resolved. Whatever the final outcome it will be harmful to both sides,” senior analyst Mazhar Abbas added.