Despite resignations, MQM plans to contest by-polls

| Rejecting minus-Altaf formula, party decides to launch protest drive

ISLAMABAD/KARACHI - Despite handing down resignations in the parliament yesterday, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement intends to take part in the by-elections, the party members say.
“We, under compulsion, have detached ourselves from parliamentary politics, but have a large vote bank in our constituencies,” Rashid Godil, senior party leader, told The Nation.
In the mist of confusion over the acceptance of MQM resignations from the parliament, the government has also asked other political parties to woo the departing lawmakers back to the parliament.
Earlier, yesterday afternoon, MQM legislatures from the National Assembly, the Senate and the Sindh Assembly tendered en masse resignations.
The fourth biggest political party in the National Assembly announced to quit the parliament after hurling accusations that it was being pushed to the wall by the powerful military establishment.
“This is now clear that law-enforcement agencies are paving way for PTI’s activities and other vultures,” said MQM parliamentary leader Dr Farooq Sattar.
Sattar said the law-enforcement agencies, particularly Rangers, were clearly seen supporting PTI with a view to marginalising MQM. “Our party is being targeted just like the 1992 operation,” he added.
Sattar lamented MQM was being politically victimised under the garb of the Rangers’ operation in Karachi, warning of a strong public reaction if its mandate was snatched in the by-polls.
“MQM office bearers, workers and supporters are being arrested, unlawfully detained and subsequently subjected to brutal torture and atrocities,” he said and alleged their 40 workers had been killed extra-judicially by the law enforcement agencies (LEAs).
“150 workers of MQM are reported missing after their arrest by the LEAs,” said the MQM MNA, complaining the government had not arrested killers of thousands of their workers.
Strongly criticising the ban on live broadcast of Altaf Hussain on television news networks, he termed it violation of Article 19 of the Constitution, depriving him of right to free speech.
He said the MQM headquarters was also raided twice to malign the party’s reputation and demoralise its members and supporters.
Giving reasons behind their resignations, he said hundreds of false cases had been registered against Altaf Hussain, the party’s parliamentarians and workers.
About the Karachi operation, Sattar said the Rangers had arrested over 5,000 MQM office bearers, workers and supporters while courts failed to provide justice to them. “The current operation was supposed to be fair and transparent against criminals, but it has exclusively been turned against Mohajirs and MQM,” he alleged.
Sattar said Pakistani politicians, religious leaders and journalists, including Imran Khan, Khawaja Asif, Mehmood Khan Achakzai, Munawar Hasan, Maulna Abdul Aziz and former president Asif Ali Zardari had publicly criticised Pakistan Army, but only Altaf Hussain was being criticized and restricted over his right to free speech,” he said.
Sattar left the house along with his 22 colleagues after completing his speech. The MQM members also raised slogans “Pakitsan Zindabad” and “Altaf Zindabad”, while leaving the house. Interestingly, some ruling party members bid farewell to them by loudly saying ‘good bye.’
Taking the floor, PTI lawmaker Arif Alvi strongly condemned MQM’s allegations and levelled a volley of charges against it. “PTI will win elections with its own power, not with the support of anyone,” he said.
After registering their protest in the house, 23 MQM MNAs met Speaker Ayaz Sadiq in his chamber and individually submitted their resignations, which were verified by him, but he did not give a final nod to accept them.
Likewise, eight MQM senators also tendered their resignations in the Senate Secretariat. The six senators of the party, led by their parliamentary leader, first went to Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani to hand over their resignations. According to official sources, the chairman told them that they would have to submit their resignations in the Senate Secretariat under the rules. MQM lawmakers, Farogh Naseem and Khushbakht Shujaat were not present when the resignations were submitted in the secretariat. Both mailed their resignations.
MQM has total eight seats in the 104-member upper house of the Parliament, including three female and five male senators.
Later, Chairman Raza Rabbani informed the upper house that the Senate Secretariat had received resignations of MQM lawmakers, adding all constitutional and legal requirements would be fulfilled in this regard.
Responding to the query of JUI-F lawmaker Maulana Attaur Rehman, the Senate chairman said the requirements of Article-64 of the Constitution and Rule 18 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the house would be fulfilled.
The MQM lawmakers submitted their resignations in the Senate Secretariat soon after the party MNAs resigned from the National Assembly.
Following the party decision, MQM MPAs in the Sindh Assembly also submitted their resignations to Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani in his chamber. Soon after the assembly session was adjourned for an indefinite period, the MQM lawmakers, led by Opposition Leader Khawaja Izharul Hasan, gathered outside the speaker’s chamber, met him and submitted their resignations. Of 51 MQM lawmakers, 41 were present at that time.
Khawaja Izhar said 10 lawmakers were out of the country, so they could not come here, however, they had sent their hand-written resignations which could be verified.
Syed Faisal Ali Sabzwari, Irtiza Khalil Farouqi, Adnan Ahmed, Ashfaq Ahmed Mangi, Khalid bin Wilayat, Adil Siddiqui, Iram Azeem Farouqi, Iftikhar Alam, Muhammad Kamran and Sheikh Abdullah were not present.
Later, the party lawmakers also addressed media persons individually outside the provincial assembly and said, “We were with Altaf Hussain and will remain with him forever in raising voice of the suppressed people of the society.”
Meanwhile, MQM decided to launch protest against the ongoing targeted operation in Karachi. Sources privy to the matter revealed that following the instructions of Altaf Hussain, MQM legislators tendered their resignations and decided to launch a protest drive against the Karachi operation. The MQM plans to hold rallies and huge gatherings and stage sit-ins.
Earlier, the MQM Coordination Committee held a meeting simultaneously in London and Karachi with Altaf Hussain in the chair. The committee expressed extreme reservation against the minus-Altaf formula and said MQM would never accept anybody in his place. The MQM chief endorsed the decision of tendering resignations against the Rangers’ operation.
However, Altaf Hussain, while talking to a private TV channel, came up with a formula that if the Rangers halted the ‘illegal’ action against MQM and conducted the operation without discrimination, he would try to safeguard the dignity of institutions. Altaf also appealed to the chief of army staff to direct the Rangers to conduct the operation sincerely.

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