A day after the top brass of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) revolted against his leadership, party chief Altaf Hussain issued a statement on Wednesday endorsing their decision to keep him away from party affairs.
This development came even as the MQM’s candidate for the post of Mayor of Karachi, Waseem Akhtar, created history by winning the election from behind the bars.
Mr. Akhtar, who has been in jail since July 19 after an Anti-Terrorism Court dismissed his pre-arrest interim application in a terror-related case, was handpicked for the post of Mayor by Mr. Hussain several days ago. His election is a sign that despite the virtual ouster of Mr. Hussain, the MQM’s support base remains intact.
On Wednesday, a chastened Mr. Hussain said in a statement he has handed over party affairs to the Coordination Committee.
“Keeping in view statements made by MQM leader Farooq Sattar and other members, I hand over powers of reorganisation, policymaking and decision making to the Rabita Committee,” he said in the statement shared on Twitter by MQM spokesman Wasay Jalil.
A speech by Mr. Hussain — on a self-imposed exile in London for 25 years— on Monday proved to be his undoing. His comments, calling Pakistan “a cancer to the entire world” triggered an attack on a few local TV channels leading to one death.
Within hours, the Pakistani military and security establishment took up the case with the British authorities and booked a case of sedition against him. The top brass of the party was picked up and the party headquarters in Karachi were locked up.
Mr. Akhtar, the newly elected Mayor of Karachi, also left no one in doubt that he has distanced himself from the MQM supreme. “Let bygones be bygones,” he told journalists after the results were announced.
“Its enough, we have fought enough and enough blood has been spilt. I am not a Mayor of MQM. I will work for Karachi, I am Karachi’s Mayor,” he said.
Given the numerical strength of MQM in the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation — 214 members out of 308— Mr. Akhtar’s victory in the mayoral election did not come as a surprise.