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Photo Source: Dawn

Pakistan Reader# 512, 13 January 2023

Karachi: Merger of the MQM factions. Patch-up or forced marriage?



Three major MQM factions have agreed to come together.

D. Suba Chandran

While the rest of Pakistan was focussing on the Punjabi political drama in Lahore, there was a silent re-unification taking place in Karachi amongst the various MQM factions. After a series of efforts during the last few months, led by Sindh Governor Kamran Tissori, on 12 January 2023, the MQM factions agreed to get reunited. 

Two leaders - Mustafa Kamal (Chairman of the Pak Sarzameen Party) and  Dr Farooq Sattar (Head of the MQM-Restoration Committee) came together to unite with Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui (Convenor of the MQM-P). Once a strong loyalist to the MQM and Altaf Hussain, the three leaders, along with other second and third-rung cadres seem to have come together.

Why did the MQM fall into factions earlier, and why has it come together now? The answer should be simple: the Deep State. But, it should be more than that.

The Deep State played a substantial role during the last decade to break the MQM in Karachi from its leader in London. While many blame the Deep State as the reason for the breakup, one cannot absolve the failure of the leadership, especially Altaf Hussain, forcing the party leaders to take the decision that they took subsequently. While the Deep State was keen to break Altaf’s hold over the party, when the party broke into multiple factions subsequently, it should have welcomed it. Result: the hold of MQM over Karachi broke, providing the space for the PTI in 2018 elections.

While a section of the Mohajir community still owes their allegiance to Altaf, the party politicking in Karachi was led by the MQM factions. There have been attempts to unify the MQM factions during the last few years; during recent months, there was an extra effort led by the Sindh governor – Tissori. He should take the credit. Since December 2022, he has been working hard to address the differences between the factions. Besides the individual differences, there were also issues over the party flag, election symbols and the larger name under which the factions should come together. And more importantly, who should be the leader of the party. For example, in December 2022, there were reports that Mustafa Kamal’s PSP is willing to work with the MQM-P, but in an alliance, but through a merger. Even in early January, the above issues seem to have been the primary problem for the factions to come together. 

Finally, they seem to have come together. And patched up. What has been the nature of understanding between these leaders to patch up – one will come to know subsequently. But, them seem to have patched up for now. The MQM factions led by the three leaders should have also realised that they have a better chance of facing the provincial and national elections together. Who knows, they may become the kingmaker again in national politics. They also have an immediate priority: the forthcoming LG elections in Karachi and Hyderabad.

Or, was yesterday’s development a forced marriage between the MQM factions? The coming together could also perhaps be a part of the Deep State’s plan. Despite the promise that Gen Bajwa made, there seems to be efforts to pursue another round of political re-engineering. Dawn, in an editorial: “it seems that the establishment is cobbling together these disparate elements to create a reunified Muttahida, though apparently minus Altaf Hussain. Leading this mission is Sindh Governor Kamran Tessori, a recent, lateral entrant in the MQM ranks, who has been busy trying to bring the factions back together.” So, what happened yesterday could very well be a forced marriage, to prevent the PTI from having a larger political pie in Karachi.
 

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