KARACHI: A stalemate continued between two factions of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) through as they failed to reach an agreement over candidates for next month’s Senate elections, with party convener Dr Farooq Sattar declaring all Rabita Committee meetings and decisions as “unconstitutional”.
The Rabita Committee 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 4 PM on Sunday (tomorrow), 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”.
“I will also be making a decision about my leadership in the same meeting.”
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.