A day before the Muttahida Qaumi Movement is set to stage a show of strength on the occasion of its foundation day, MQM dissidents Syed Mustafa Kamal and Anis Kaimkhani lost momentum as no one from the Altaf Hussain-led party joined them on Thursday, forcing them to cancel their scheduled press conference.
With the cancellation of the press conference, the beleaguered MQM may heave a sigh of relief, at least for now, since its dissidents failed to give it a surprise, allowing it to focus on the preparation of a convention scheduled to be held at the Jinnah Ground on Friday to celebrate its 32nd foundation day. Also on Thursday, Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad distanced himself from the unnamed party of the former Karachi nazim and termed all reports that he was behind the MQM dissidents ‘conspiracy theories’. Since their March 3 return to the country, Mr Kamal and Mr Kaimkhani have been holding press conferences every Monday and Thursday in which some second- and third-tier leaders of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, including two sitting members of the Sindh Assembly, announced joining the new party.
A similar press conference was scheduled for Thursday at 7pm at the Defence headquarters of the unnamed party, but first it was delayed and then cancelled. Instead, Mr Kamal, along with other dissidents, went to the Defence cricket stadium to inaugurate a cricket tournament, said to have been sponsored by some real estate developers. In a damage control exercise, Mr Kaimkhani told reporters in the evening that the scheduled press conference was ‘postponed’ till March 21. He said that the event was postponed because of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan’s press conference. “Then some DHA residents came to meet us and requested us to attend a gathering of youths in the stadium.” He said that a number of ‘friends’ would join their party soon.
Earlier in the day, a few DHA residents staged a demonstration briefly outside Mr Kamal’s residence-cum-party headquarters in protest over carrying out political activities in the city’s upscale neighbourhood. Meanwhile, Sindh Governor Ibad inspected the under-construction second track of the Lyari Expressway on Thursday, where he was asked by media whether he was behind the unnamed party of Mr Kamal and other dissidents. In a lighter vein and with a smile on his face, Dr Ibad replied: “I would have been in the forefront and not behind if I were with them.”
Asked to comment over the return of Mr Kamal to politics, he compared the differences between the former nazim and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement with the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, which calls for devolution of powers and decentralisation – apparently an indirect reference to the accumulation of all powers by the London-based MQM leadership.