MQM-PSP Merger: Will it last and what does it mean for Karachi?

Merger

News Analysis |

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) have announced their eventual merger and decided to continue their struggle for the rights of the people of Karachi and Sindh. MQM-P’s head Dr. Farooq Sattar and PSP’s Syed Mustafa Kamal made the announcement during a highly anticipated press conference on Wednesday in Karachi.

Both leaders elaborated on their intentions before the people by stating that: “It is our job — the leaders of both parties — to convey to our workers that we are doing this because we want a better future for the city. We want our due share in the development of this city. We want to be counted. We want jobs for our youth.” Mustafa Kamal said they would conduct politics for the whole of Pakistan and not represent the ‘muhajir’ community exclusively.

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Moreover, Dr Farooq Sattar while talking about the nature of the alliance in technical terms said: “the modalities of this alliance will be decided in the days to come”. However, he stated that “We will chalk out a strategy for the next elections under one name, manifesto and symbol.”

The MQM and PSP leadership quite reasonably assessed the emerging political threat in the city and decided to re-organize the internally disorganized MQM.

While talking about the rights of the people of Karachi and particularly of the Muhajir community, the MQM-P head stated, “we should ensure that Karachi never faces the kind of political violence it witnessed in the past. We seek a good working relationship and a political alliance with each other, and this is what we wanted to talk to you all about”.

Mustafa Kamal made strong critical remarks about Altaf Hussain’s late-night monologues from London and what it meant for the MQM party on ground in Pakistan. He also stated that it was Altaf’s self-serving identity politics which ultimately weakened the muhajirs and created insecurity for them. It was often felt by party members that Altaf Hussain’s, strong ‘anti-Pakistan’ speeches led to the feeling that all muhajirs were against Pakistan and were then treated as ‘outsiders’ or even ‘traitors.’ 

PSP’s chief agreed with what Dr Sattar had stated and reaffirmed his stance by clarifying that “the gist of Farooq bhai’s speech is that we need one manifesto, one symbol, and one party to continue our struggle for the people of Pakistan”. 

Discord from within ranks?

However, during the ongoing conference, MQM-P MNA Ali Raza Abidi parted ways with his party because of the ‘surprising’ merger of the two Karachi-based parties and announced to resign from his National Assembly seat. He sent a tweet from Saudi Arabia saying this is not what he had signed up for. 

Other leaders of the party have also expressed discord over the changed mandate of the party. One mentioned that the MQM will retain its name and its symbol going into the elections. As far as he was aware it was meant to be an electoral alliance only. Faisal Subzwari also during the meeting tweeted to clarify that it was an alliance and not a merger of the two parties. 

Nadeem Nusrat, about whom last month rumors surfaced that he had left MQM London and was in the USA also tweeted and blamed the establishment for not accepting Mohajir identity.

MQM was initially formed to protect the socioeconomic and political rights of the Muhajir community. It has been the only political party in Pakistan to represent Muhajirs exclusively. As a result, due to its strong control over the city, the party has been able to exploit ethnic identities to remain in power. 

MQM itself was divided into two main blocks: MQM led by Altaf Hussain and PSP led by Syed Mustafa Kamal.

The instrumentalization of identity has always served the fundamental political purpose of the founder of MQM. However, in recent years we have witnessed a new wave of political consciousness and social change in Karachi. 

MQM itself was divided into two main blocks: MQM led by Altaf Hussain and PSP led by Syed Mustafa Kamal. Later on, Pakistan-based MQM leadership parted ways with the London-based party chief after his anti-Pakistan speech on August 22, 2016. 

Read more: MQM rejects census results, demands “true population record”

How PTI is affecting electoral politics in Karachi

This internal disorganization and creating of two separate factions led to serious problems for the leaders at both sides. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s emergence in Karachi and a changed attitude of the establishment towards the leadership of MQM left the disorganized political party with no other option but to unite once again.

The current move by two factions of MQM to reunite the main party (to be more accurate the mother party) is essentially the result of several political challenges that lie ahead, which the party leadership needs to deal with. PTI has become a very viable alternative for the people of Karachi, even amongst MQM voters. The split between the two arms of the former MQM only created divisions amongst themselves.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and Pak Sarzameen Party have announced their eventual merger and decided to continue their struggle for the rights of the people of Karachi and Sindh.

Unlike the MQM, PTI presents itself as a national level party and that represents every community and every part of the country, whether it has representation there or not. It has made inroads into the same people who voted for MQM on the basis of identity card politics. The alliance of the parties is a realization that the two parties (MQM-P and PSP) are splitting the same voters between themselves and may allow through a third party.

Read more: Are MQM factions thinking of uniting against PPP for 2018 elections?

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