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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

MQM-P whitewashed in the Senate elections

News Desk |

Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) lost all its seats in the 3rd March Senate elections. Elections for 12 Senate seats were held in Sindh Assembly. The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) won 11 seats while one seat was one by the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F). MQM-P failed to win any seats despite having 50 MPAs in the Sindh Assembly, if all the MQM-P MPAs had voted for their own people, they would have won at least 3 Senate seats.

The elections are considered to be a major setback for the MQM-P which was considered to be the fourth biggest party of Pakistan. The inner disputes in the party have cost them the Senate Elections. Earlier today, MQM-P chief Farooq Sattar had accused PPP of massive horse trading.

“Our female and male MPAs, both were subjected to such attempts [of horse-trading]…some of them arrived to the assembly in the same car as two PPP MPAs, went to the chief minister’s chambers, then went to cast their votes and were then sent on their way,” Sattar alleged in a press briefing to the media.

Earlier today, PPP leader Sharmila Farooqui said that parliamentarians should cast votes according to their conscience. However, she went on to hint that her party will give a surprise to MQM in the Senate elections. Now, the future of the whole MQM-P is on the on the line since the legislators who voted against their party are not expected to stay with them in the 2018 general elections. 

The MQM-P had apparently united once again as the leaders of the two disputing factions, PIB group and Bahardurabad group, Farooq Sattar and Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui held a joint press conference in Islamabad on Friday 2nd March 2018. They announced that they have agreed on the MQM-P candidates for the upcoming Senate Elections. The nominees finalized were Barrister Farogh Naseem and Kamran Khan Tessori for the general seats, Abdul Qadir Khanzada for the technocrat seat, Dr. Nighat Shakeel for the women’s seat and Sanjay Perwani for the minorities seat.

Read more: Divide in MQM-P again: Ostensibly over senate tickets?

A divide was created between the MQM-P ranks after Farooq Sattar and the Rabita Committee failed to agree on the nomination of candidates for the upcoming Senate elections on 5th February 2018. Sattar insisted on nominating Kamran Tessori on one of MQM-P’s seats but the members of the Rabita committee didn’t agree. Since Tessori was surpassing other senior members. The MQM-P was openly divided into two factions: the PIB group (lead by Farooq Sattar) and the Bahadurabad group (lead by Amir Khan).

The bone of contention between the two groups, candidate Kamran Tessori, was among the final list of nominated candidates by the MQM-P. The names of all the candidates were finalized by the consensus of both the factions. Sattar expressed hope that MQM-P will win all 5 seats. He apologized to his workers and expressed embarrassment over the whole issue within the senior leadership. “It was not a happy occasion for us either that a strain remained between us for so many days,” Sattar said.

MQM-P failed to win any seats despite having 50 MPAs in the Sindh Assembly, if all the MQM-P MPAs had voted for their voted, they would have won at least 3 Senate seats.

Siddiqui expressed that despite the dispute, there was no visible heat in the MQM-P leadership. He declared that MQM-P was one family and would proceed like a family. The duo announced that the difference over Senate nominations has been resolved but the issue of two Rabita Committees is yet to be discussed. When asked about their current positions in the party, Sattar remarked that their positions were ‘indebted to their votes’.

While the issue of Senate nominations is resolved, a bigger issue of party convenership is still present. The Rabita Committee of the Bahadurabad group had removed Sattar as the chief of MQM-P on 11th February. After leveling a number of allegations against him including negligence, mismanagement, and nepotism, and made Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui the new convener. In response, Sattar dissolved the whole Rabita Committee and announced fresh intra-party elections.

The re-elections were held in which only the PIB group (Sattar’s group) participated and Sattar was elected as the party chief once again. The Bahadurabad group declared the elections ‘illegal’ and took the matter to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). Both groups have previously submitted separate nomination papers to the ECP but only the Rabita Committee’s nomination papers were accepted. The case went on to the ECP and ultimately, both groups decided to solve the matter outside of ECP.

Read more: Sattar summoned by ECP over MQM-P convenership case

The question that arises is that will the dissenting members of Bahadurabad group be able to work under Sattar after all that has happened? MQM-P has a history of resilience and rising above disputes but the MQM of the past is very different from the current MQM-P. Political analysts believe that Altaf Hussain enjoyed a strong hold on the party which any of his successors will never be able to enjoy; he was the pivot around which the party revolved.

Altaf’s expulsion from the party created a huge divide which Sattar failed to fill. Majority of the dissenter of the Rabita Committee are known to be Altaf’s loyalists. According to many media experts, even after their expulsion, they wish to propagate his policies. The allegations leveled against Sattar before his removal still stand. It is unsure whether the Rabita Committee will choose to overlook them after they have set their differences aside.

Read more: Farooq Sattar dissolves MQM Rabita Committee in response to his sacking

The future of the whole MQM-P is very insecure after the Senate elections, if they keep the MPAs who voted against them, it will give them a bad image and make a mockery out of them, if they expel them, they won’t have any electables for the 2018 General Elections. It will prove to be a huge challenge for the whole MQM-P leadership but this shock might be enough to shake them up to set aside their domestic issues and focus on the bigger picture of national politics. 

The convenership of the party is also a big question mark as a senior leader like Sattar would not accept any position other than the party head. It is believed that the post of convenership would be made a ceremonial position so that the whole dispute of being the party head dies out. The Rabita Committee is also expected to be reshuffled so that both groups would agree on it. MQM-P might face further divide even after both groups have reconciled since the dispute has disheartened a number of MQM members according to some media reports.