MQM chief Altaf Hussain steps down over anti-Pakistan remarks
Pakistani protesters carry placards as they shout slogans against Altaf Hussain, the leader of Pakistani political Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) party during a demonstration in Karachi.
Photograph:( AFP )
Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain on Wednesday "handed over powers to the Rabita committee in Pakistan", after drawing criticism for raising anti-Pakistan slogans and calling it a “cancer for the entire world”, media reports said. Hussain's stepping down comes a day after he apologised to the Pakistani military for the vitriolic comments.
Dawn, a Pakistan newspaper, reported that senior MQM leader, Farooq Sattar, spoke to party leaders and lawmakers, and communicated his decision to disown Hussain's controversial statement and take over the MQM.
"Keeping in view the statements by MQM leader Farooq Sattar and other MQM members, I hand over powers of reorganisation, policy-making and decision-making to the Rabita Committee,” Hussain said.
The coordination committee will now have the power in policy-making, MQM spokesman Wasay Jalil said.
"From now onwards, decisions will be made in Pakistan. This message is for the London office as well as for Pakistan office-bearers,” Sattar added.
But Sattar's announcement failed to cut ice with other political parties as they continued to denounce Hussain for his anti-Pakistan remarks.
Jalil had shared Hussain's apology statement on Twitter, saying that he was under 'mental stress' over the forced disappearances and extra-judicial killings of his party members. Parts of his speech that showed him addressing the workers of MQM protesting outside the Karachi Press club and raising anti-Pakistan slogans on Tuesday had taken the social media by storm.
The MQM is a political party registered with the Election Commission of Pakistan in the name of Farooq Sattar. According to MQM, Pakistani's establishment has hounded the party for years, carrying out extra-judicial killings of its members since 2013.
Hussain had been running the party's day-to-day organisational affairs over phone from his office in Edware, London, where he lives in what some call self-imposed exile. However, death threats from the Taliban over the years are said to be the main reason behind his staying away from Pakistan.
"I will continue to focus on improving my health in line with the coordination committee's suggestions," Hussain tweeted. Many sections of the international press have reported that this could be a compromise deal between MQM and the Pakistan Army that Hussain had attacked in his speech.
On Tuesday, however, Khwaja Izahrul Hassan, leader of the opposition in the Sindh assembly, said that the MQM leadership in London had not been consulted before holding the press conference to indicate that the MQM in Pakistan was beginning to act on its own.
Pakistan Sunni Tehrik leaders Maulana Noor Ahmed Qasmi and Khalid Hassan Attari and others insisted that the MQM must be banned and that sedition cases should be registered against all those who raised anti-Pakistan slogans.