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News Analysis |

Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) Chairman Mustafa Kamal at a press conference in Karachi on Saturday stated that the establishment called upon his party to form an alliance with the Farooq Sattar-led Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) upon Sattar’s request.

“Today I want to tell all of Pakistan that, yes; the establishment called us and made us meet Farooq Sattar. When we reached, Sattar was already there and it was on his request that we were called. This did not happen a few hours ago. Sattar and his team have been calling us with help from the establishment for the past eight months.”

Read more: MQM-PSP Merger: Will it last and what does it mean for…

Kamal’s press conference was a response to the allegations leveled against him by Farooq Sattar in which he accused the former of ignoring the Muhajir community and its sacrifices in addition to being a crony of the establishment.

Political analysts have labelled these press conferences a ‘precursor of things to come’. They opined that such alliances, some of which might be short-lived, would be forged in the run-up to next general elections.

Kamal lambasted Farooq Sattar for using the Muhajir card to gain sympathy from the largest ethnic group in Karachi and questioned, “Who is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of young men from this community”.

Mustafa Kamal accused Sattar of still being soft on Altaf Hussain and using the language card to keep his party united. He warned that this kind of politics might lead to a bloodbath in Karachi that it cannot afford.

Kamal also took swipes at Altaf Hussian and accused him of being a RAW agent. He said, “Altaf Hussain is a traitor and a Research and Analysis Wing agent. If he is working openly for RAW, he is not doing any work for his own country. Have they [MQM] said one word against Altaf Hussain throughout this entire drama? I hope when they stand on Imran Farooq’s grave, they remember that they too will be in graves one day.”

Read more: Strong reaction by politicians to the announced MQM-PSP alliance?

Responding to the allegations of him being an agent of the military establishment, Kamal said, “I am not an agent [of the establishment]. If I was, I would not leave my post as the senator in 2013.” He added, “Farooq Sattar and entire MQM was with Altaf Hussain even hours after his infamous address in which he said ‘Pakistan Murdabad’. The entire MQM leaders and party workers attacked ARY and Samma. It was only after being arrested by Rangers that Farooq disassociated himself from Altaf.”

Sattar’s decision to use the Muhajir card may prove detrimental to his party since it will lead to political isolation and it will enter into 2018 elections as a much weaker party than it used to be.

He continued, “Farooq Sattar remained in Ranger’s custody for eight hours and he came out as a leader of a political party, so who is from the establishment?”

Kamal also revealed that it was Sindh’s governor Ishrat-ul-Ibad on whose instructions MQM leaders were released and that he also asked Anees Qaimkhani to ask PSP to merge with MQM-P which he refused.

Kamal also took jibes at the establishment and accused it of supporting MQM-P despite the parties alleged involvement in killings in Karachi and anti-state activities.

Mustafa Kamal’s press conference vs Farooq Sattar’s stunt 

Today’s press conference is significant in a number of ways. It not only signaled an end of the short-lived honeymoon between MQM-P and PSP but also indicated that the run-up to 2018 elections has already begun.

Mustafa Kamal’s press conference had much more substance compared to Farooq Sattar’s stunt a day ago. While Sattar reverted to traditional MQM rhetoric and focused on the ethnic politics of Altaf Hussain, Kamal steered his party onto the national scene by adopting a nationalistic narrative.

Kamal said, “I am not an agent [of the establishment]. If I was, I would not leave my post as the senator in 2013.”

Kamal refused to focus on a single ethnicity, rather, he chose a balanced approach by inviting people from every ‘hue and color’ to join him to solve the problems being faced by Karachi in particular and Pakistan in general. This move might not be beneficial for PSP in the short term but it is significant since Mustafa Kamal has presented himself as a good alternative to the mainstream parties that have dominated the Karachi scene for decades now.

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

Farooq Sattar’s press conference was more of a desperate move to secure his position as a party head. His one-hour resignation was a move to pressurize dissident MQM-P leaders to ‘forgive and forget’ his efforts to forge an alliance with PSP. However, in stark contrast, Kamal’s press conference has strengthened his hold over PSP. He successfully dispelled the speculations of him being under pressure, which might encourage the dissident MQM-P leaders to join him.

Run-up to 2018 general elections

Political analysts have labeled these press conferences a ‘precursor of things to come’. They opined that such alliances, some of which might be short-lived, would be forged in the run-up to next general elections.

Kamal’s press conference was a response to the allegations leveled against him by Farooq Sattar in which he accused the former of ignoring the Muhajir community

They cited Pervaiz Musharraf, PTI and religious party’s efforts to form alliances in the past as an example.Analysts added that MQM-P has been significantly weakened. Sattar’s decision to use the Muhajir card may prove detrimental to his party since it will lead to political isolation and it will enter into 2018 elections as a much weaker party than it used to be. They claimed that PSP, PTI, and PPP might also make gains in Karachi at the cost of MQM-P.

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