MQM & PSP
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Farah Adeed |

MQM is a controversial political party. But two things remained persistent and strong despite its crooked behavior, its leadership and its hold over Karachi. But ever since PML-N assumed power and PTI emerged as an alternative political force, the leadership of MQM and as well as its hold over Karachi has become uncertain.

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The formation of Syed Musataf Kamal’s PSP damaged MQM as a political party. However, when the party parted ways with its founder, Altaf Hussain, and formed MQM-P, it compromised the ideology and narrative of the party.  Altaf did his politics in the name of Muhajirs. His strength lied in the strong narrative he had shaped quite sensibly. But his departure made the party politically insecure and disorganized.

Two days ago the head of MQM-P, Farooq Sattar, after consulting his ‘close’ colleagues decided to ‘merge’ MQM and PSP. He had to face unexpected criticism from his friends’ camps that were ‘disappointed’ him. 

Sattar has set the agenda, shaped the narrative, talked about the services for the party and bashed PSP for misleading his people.

The political over-frankness of Mustafa Kamal was not digestible for the angry Sattar. After receiving a negative reaction from the PSP leadership and his own workers he decided to cancel the political merger announced just a day ago. Yesterday in the evening, Sattar came up with a response to the PSP leadership. 

Sattar ended the alliance with PSP and said goodbye to MQM-P and politics. Soon after, he retracted his statement about leaving his own party by saying that his mother and political supporters had convinced him not to abandon it.Sattar stated, “we want to do national level politics, but we are again being pushed towards Muhajir politics”.

He reminded everybody of his 38 years’ of service for the party and spoke about the fact that MQM-P is being victimized since some of its people are still missing and offices are still forcibly closed. There are some very important points, which need to be read carefully in Sattar’s speech (the content and length of the talk suggest it to be a speech, not a press conference). 

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Firstly, after MQM split with MQM-P, there was a political vacuum within the party. Altaf Hussain had been the symbol of unity and strength for the Muhajir community of Karachi. Altaf’s departure gave birth to many questions as to how would people like Farooq Sattar be able to maintain strict party rules? Who would replace Altaf? Who would pacify the angry workers who wanted Altaf back at the stage? What would the party look like ‘without Altaf’? 

Sattar stated, “we want to do national level politics, but we are again being pushed towards Muhajir politics”.

Dr Farooq Sattar was the man who kept the party and his workers on track and didn’t let any unwanted political disruption with his party. But the divisions on ‘ideological’ basis were getting wider because of the absence of a strong leader like Altaf and a convincing narrative like ‘we, the Muhajir community’.

Interestingly, however, last night Farooq Sattar not only showed strong leadership (in Altaf’s style to control MQM) but also shaped a new narrative; respect and love for the martyrs. He repeatedly said that PSP was bad for being unable to remember their martyrs who made and saved Pakistan. 

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This ‘graves of martyrs’ was appealing and sentimental enough to capture the hearts of the Muhajir community. He established a common identity and then exploited it in his own terms for his own larger political interest. Secondly, he was unhappy with his friends and colleagues, which furthers gives birth to two speculations. 

Two days ago the head of MQM-P, Farooq Sattar, after consulting his ‘close’ colleagues decided to ‘merge’ MQM and PSP.

One, the decision of a merger with PSP was not taken after any consultation and Farooq Sattar tried to be Altaf Hussain but other senior leaders refused to accept it. Two, there was a consensus amongst top leadership of the party but after assessing public opinion many of MQM leaders came to know that the step they had taken was miscalculated and took a U-turn.  

Time will tell what the case actually was, but, at the moment, there is only one thing to be looked into; MQM is no longer an organized political force in Karachi nor is it the only force now.  Sattar’s decision seems emotional and lacks rationality but, in my opinion, Sattar has set the agenda, shaped the narrative, talked about the services for the party and bashed PSP for misleading his people. The content of his speech suggests his respectful return and his tone during the talk confirms it.

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