PR Editorials

Consolidating the Mohajir Politics in Pakistan: “One Manifesto, One Symbol, One Party”

Photo: Dawn

Within a span of ten days, so much has happened to the Mohajir politics in Karachi. In a surprising move, the two parties representing the Mohajir community – the MQM-P and Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) have come together and announced to work together under “One Manifesto, One symbol, One Party”

Until a few days earlier, both the parties have been bitterly fighting. There have been a series of defections from the MQM-Pakistan to the PSP in the recent weeks. MQM-Pakistan, headed by Farooq Sattar represents, or atleast claims to represent the MQM of pre-August 2016 period. 

In August 2016, a major development took place within the MQM, witnessing the party in Pakistan disowning its founder leader in London – Altaf Hussain. After founding the party from his student days, and converting a student movement into a powerful political party representing the interests of the Mohajir community in urban Sindh, Altaf Hussain did something atrocious in August 2016. Addressing a crowd in Karachi from London, Altaf Hussain went against the Pakistan media and worse, the military. And both caused an unrepairable damage to the MQM. 

Calling Pakistan as a cancer, Altaf in his August 2016 speech from London said, “Pakistan is headache for the entire world. Pakistan is the epicentre of terrorism for the entire world. Who says long live Pakistan...it’s down with Pakistan.” Though he had his own reasons to be unhappy with the Establishment and the media, his public statements made it difficult for the party. The Establishment had in place a strategy towards MQM minus Altaf Hussain, and he played into their hands.

After the above, a section within the MQM broke with London and came together under the leadership of Farooq Sattar. Few months earlier, the PSP was founded by Mustafa Kamal - a former MQM leader, who had served as Karachi Mayor. He had left the MQM and also Pakistan in 2013, but returned to Pakistan in 2016 to float a new party – the PSP and fight for the Mohajirs. 

The general perception is – the PSP has the support of the Establishment. The has been was working hard to weaken the MQM-Pakistan further. Since, the PSP was formed only in 2016, it does not have representations in the Sindh Assembly, or the National Assembly in Islamabad. MQM-P has all the Mohajir seats in regional and national assemblies. Many suspect, that the Establishment was trying to squeeze the MQM-P and forcing its leaders to join the PSP. And the Establishment’s plan seemed to be succeeding.

Hence, the latest announcement by Farooq Sattar and Mustafa Kamal comes as a surprise. How did they come together, when they were fighting until few days ago? 

And the slogan – one party, one manifesto and one symbol is extremely powerful. Especially the last one. The Deep State is apprehensive of the use of “MQM” and also the party symbol – the kite. 

What forced the two factions to come together? Is the MQM-P falling into the hands of the PSP? Or the latter coming out of the Establishment’s shadow? It is too early to make an assertion on the above. One needs more time to have a larger analysis.

But what is clear is – the above move will strengthen the Mohajir politics in Karachi and rest of urban Sindh. A weak MQM means a polarised Karachi. PPP, ANP, PTI and JI – all have their pockets of influence, but none can take an assertive lead. 

And what is not clear is – who will lead this “one party” and what will happen to the original MQM? Is Altaf Hussain out completely? Gen Musharraf has made another surprising statement – that he would be willing to come back to Pakistan to lead a united Mohajir movement. 

It appears, Farooq Sattar and Mustafa Kamal have realised that they would fall together, if they stand divided. But, will the Establishment let its plan fall in Karachi, and see the Mohajirs rise again?

Interesting times ahead for the Mohajirs, Karachi and Pakistan.


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