Few political observers were surprised when Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain took back his decision to step down as party supremo in a matter of hours, but his decision to name three potential successors for the first time caused widespread wonderment.
In a telephonic speech that was aired live on private news channels in the early hours of Monday, Mr Hussain told a meeting of the elected representatives and office-bearers of his party that they could choose Dr Farooq Sattar, Nadeem Nusrat or Mohammad Anwar as his replacement because he did not want to lead the party. Dr Sattar is the most senior leader of the MQM who is based in Karachi. Mr Nusrat and Mr Anwar live in London and their association with Mr Hussain spans three and two decades respectively.
While Dr Sattar and Mr Anwar are members of the party’s coordination committee, Mr Nusrat is practically MQM chief’s second-in-command as the senior deputy convener of the committee. “More rigorous actions will be taken against our community if I continue to lead the party…so it is better to step down and save the nation from oppression,” he said, asking his followers to gather in the evening to choose anyone as their new leader. Emotional scenes were witnessed when Mr Hussain insisted that his decision to leave the party leadership was final.
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While the meeting was being held at the auditorium of the Khurshid Begum Memorial Complex, a large number of workers reached the Nine Zero headquarters and shouted slogans that they would not accept Mr Hussain’s decisions. Mr Hussain said he was disturbed over allegations levelled against him by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan. He said the PTI chief used swear words against him for living in London and accused him of supporting former military dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf. “Imran Khan, didn’t you support Musharraf in his referendum?” he asked.
I am living in exile for 25 years for the sake of future generations, but still some politicians are levelling allegations and using swear words against me.” He regretted that his party’s workers and office-bearers did not defend him in television programmes. Parliamentarians belonging to the MQM announced that they would resign from assemblies and the Senate if Mr Hussain did not review his decision.In a matter of a few hours, Mr Hussain took back his decision on the “insistence of workers”. He warned against attempts to change the result of by-election in Karachi’s NA-246 constituency.