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MQM Bounces Back

MQM Bounces Back

Karachi: A rejuvenated Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) bounced back on the national political scene, threatening to quit the ruling coalition over the holding of local elections in urban Sindh under the controversial re-demarcated constituencies, but an intervention by former president Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif saved federal government – at least for now.

The MQM had pushed the beleaguered Shehbaz Sharif government into a tight spot by threatening to quit the ruling coalition because its concerns and demands regarding the local elections and delimitation of constituencies in Karachi and Hyderabad were not addressed.

The Pakistan People’s Party-run (PPP) Sindh government merged the rural areas of Karachi and Hyderabad into the metropolitan corporation of these two cities. The outskirts of these cities previously functioned under the DMCs (District Metropolitan Corporations). The way the Sindh government demarcated the new constituencies also came as a jolt for the MQM-P and all the urban based parties, including the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Jamaat-e-Islami. However, the MQM remained in the forefront of rejecting the local polls under the new delimitations, pointing out what it called the biased and discriminatory attitude of the Sindh government which created Union Councils in the MQM-dominated areas comprising 70,000 to 90,000 plus voters while in the PPP-dominated areas, these were created on just 30,000 voters. The number of seats in the Union Councils in congested areas like District Central were also reduced, while in the newly created districts, their number was increased.

“This is open discrimination and aimed at robbing the people of Karachi of their due representation in the local bodies,” Aminul Haque, senior MQM leader and a minister in Shehbaz Sharif’s federal cabinet, told Bol News.

But the PPP had to yield to the MQM-P’s demand to save the rickety ruling coalition.


However, sources within the MQM-P say that there is extreme pressure from the party supporters to abandon their alliance with the PPP, whom many Karachiites hold responsible for the plight of their city. The MQM-P’s alliance with the PPP is damaging for the party which faced the wrath of its voters in the recently held by-polls in Karachi.

The weight of the hardliners has increased following the merger of Dr. Farooq Sattar’s MQM Rehabilitation Committee and Mustafa Kamal’s Pak Sarzameen Party in the mainstream MQM. The unity move earlier this week gave a quick dividend to the party as it scored a symbolic victory by getting the local bodies polls in Karachi and Hyderabad postponed.

However, the MQM-P remains a long way from reviving its past glory given the fast-changing demographics of urban Sindh and the rise of alternate political leadership there.

That said, the merger has certainly lifted the spirits of the party’s ardent supporters and workers. Within hours of the announcement of the merger on Thursday, the Sindh government not only accepted the MQM’s demand for the postponement of the local elections, but it also revoked the controversial notification regarding the new constituencies – the main bone of contention.

However, the Election Commission of Pakistan spoiled the party by announcing that the local polls would be held on time, which forced the MQM to issue an ultimatum of quitting the government. This forced the PPP leadership to call its legal hawks to find ways to oblige the MQM-P.

These political developments in Sindh have certainly been influenced by the country’s broader political scene where the Shehbaz Sharif government appears battling for its survival as former premier Imran Khan mounts pressure for early elections by his decision to dissolve the Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa assemblies. This made it all the more necessary for the 13-party coalition at the Centre to keep all its big and small allies aligned. This explains why the Pakistan People’s Party-run Sindh government suddenly yielded to the MQM’s demand, which earlier it did not want to accept.


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