Former MQM-Pakistan National Assembly member Muzammil Qureshi and ex-Sindh Assembly member Wasim Qureshi — who recently joined the PPP — on Tuesday urged the people of Karachi to support the PPP in the upcoming elections, citing its “contributions to the development of the province” and a substantial vote bank as crucial factors to choose it.
The endorsement for the PPP from former MQM members came during a press conference led by PPP leader Saeed Ghani. Others who flanked Ghani included Mirza Khalil Baig, Saleem Bandani, Manohar Lal, Sumita Afzal, Tehseen Abidi, Muhammad Ali Brohi, Tauqeer Ahmed, and Tanveer-ul-Haq Thanvi.
The MQM-P and the PML-N had recently agreed on a seat adjustment that is seen by many as an anti-PPP move that could give the latter an advantage in urban areas of Sindh during the general elections.
Although several former lawmakers and office-bearers of the MQM-P had joined the PPP over the past two years, the recent inclusion of two former lawmakers into the PPP — ex-MNA Muzammil and MPA Wasim — has created ripples, according to a Dawn report.
Muzammil had announced the decision during a meeting with PPP-Parliamentarian president Asif Zardari, while Wasim pledged allegiance to the PPP at a public meeting held on Sunday in district Central.
But the MQM-P tried to play down the development. At a workers’ convention held on Sunday, MQM-P convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui “thanked the PPP for picking up our trash”. At the same event, senior leader Mustafa Kamal described those joining “the sinking ship” of the PPP as “mad people” and announced that none of them would be allowed back into the party fold.
He went one step further when he blamed the leadership of the Altaf Hussain-led MQM, commonly known as MQM-London, for allegedly facilitating the PPP, particularly in district Central, and said that the former ruling party in Sindh was banking on the possible call from London to boycott the polls.
At a presser today, Muzammil said everyone had a right to join a political party of their choice and any allegation or demeaning remarks by rivals had no value.
“We were tissue papers for you. Yes, you used us whenever you wanted, and then discarded us,” he said in a reference to the MQM-P leadership.
“I want people to try the PPP as their work is evident and they have a large vote bank in the province.”
Former MQM MNA Khawaja Sohail Mansoor, who is now also a part of the PPP, credited the party for appointing an educated individual — Murtaza Wahab —as Karachi’s mayor.
He emphasised that during the turbulent period of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination in 2007, it was only the PPP that advocated for unity, in contrast to the “MQM’s stance on the disintegration of the country”.
Mansoor commented on the recent MQM-PMLN alliance, suggesting that former PM Nawaz Sharif should recognise the lack of his influence in Karachi and MQM’s absence of a stronghold in Punjab. “This alliance is not going to make any impact,” he added.
Former MPA Wasim Qureshi highlighted, “Karachi got peace after numerous sacrifices. Today we have no no-go area in the city.”
Reflecting on the incident of August 22, 2016, when MQM supremo Altaf Hussain allegedly raised an “anti-Pakistan slogan,” Qureshi pointed out, “We stood for Pakistan and chose the country’s stability. Since that day, we served this country.”
PPP leader Ghani asserted that MQM was purportedly leading a campaign to impede the inclusion of more of its members into the PPP.
He stated, “There was a tradition in the past that no one could leave MQM, but the situation has changed now. Many people have come to us, others joined different political parties. But inductions into PPP have triggered shock and panic among MQM ranks.”
Ghani added that more such inductions were expected in the days to come.
He claimed that a growing number of people within the MQM had “realised that the party is no longer operating as a political entity. Instead, it is being used to weaken the PPP in the province”.