In the early hours of December 14, some unidentified miscreants destroyed some parts of Yadgar-e-Shuhada, a monument built by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) to pay homage to its workers killed during the 1992 operations and other incidents of violence in Karachi.
All Mohajir groups who were united once under Altaf Hussain-led MQM have condemned the act. This is a rare show of unity since the split of the political group that ruled the metropolis for over three decades.
Various Muhajir groups – MQM-P, Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP), and the MQM-Haqiqi led by Afaq Ahmed – have strongly condemned the destruction of the monument and have demanded that the authorities take action against the culprits.
Since the launch of operation approved by then prime minister Nawaz Sharif in September 2013 to root out crime and terrorism from Karachi, the MQM’s hold on the city has weakened.
Intelligence agencies and Sindh Rangers conducted the operation to clean up the city from land grabbers, criminals, target killers and terrorists in various phases during Nawaz Sharif’s tenure.
The PSP is running its network in six districts of Karachi as well as in union councils under the chairmanship of Mustafa Kamal and Anis Qaimkhani
The MQM has experienced violent operations before. Earlier, it was divided when an operation was launched in 1992 to clean up Karachi by the government. A strong faction led by Afaq Ahmed separated. In that operation, troops busted torture cells and killed many notorious target killers. During that period, a central leader and chairman of MQM, Azim Ahmed Tariq, was killed in a house allegedly by his own party men.
Amjad Qaimkhani, a journalist based in Karachi covering political parties, says that all Mohajir factions have strongly condemned the destruction of Yadgar-e-Shuhada by miscreants in Azizabad. This incident is an indication that weaker Mohajir groups may once again resurface.
Qaimkhani said when MQM was formed in 1984, another party was created by Dr Saleem Haider which was calling itself Mohajir Ittehad Tehreek. MQM became a national political party but Mohajir Ittehad Tehreek is still working as a nationalist party in urban areas of Sindh, he told The Friday Times.
The initial divisions surfaced in 1992, when Afaq Ahmed and Aamir Khan left Altaf Hussain-led MQM and formed a new party, MQM-Haqiqi after a clash between two mohajir factions, said Qaimkhani. When former Karachi Mayor Mustafa Kamal and Anis Qaimkhani announced dissociation from MQM on March 3, 2016 and formed Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP), mohajir groups were further divided, he said.
He said that after Altaf Hussain’s speech on August 22, 2016, Dr Farooq Sattar took charge of MQM-P and announced his disassociation with Altaf Hussain-led MQM, which is known as MQM London group since then. Later, in February 2018 due to personal rifts with other MQM-P party leaders, Dr Farooq Sattar was side lined and Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui took charge of MQM-P.
Currently, the MQM-P is limited to Bahaudarabad area and Dr Farooq Sattar’s politics is in Pir Elahi Bux (PIB) Colony, said Qaimkhani. He said the group led by Afaq Ahmed was limited only to Defence and Landhi areas. The Altaf Hussain-led MQM network is still strong in other parts of Karachi and rest of Sindh, Qaimkhani said.
Despite this, the PSP is running its network in six districts of Karachi as well as in union councils under the chairmanship of Mustafa Kamal and Anis Qaimkhani. The PSP has a strong network in Hyderabad, Umerkot and Mirpurkhas. MQM-P is in the control of Aamir Khan.
There is another strong committee led by Mohajir elders. This committee includes intellectuals, doctors, educationists and lawyers working under MQM Coordination Committee (Rabita committee) to resolve issues and disputes of all Mohajir factions in Karachi as well as the rest of Sindh.
When Altaf Hussain was heading the MQM, Dr Farooq Sattar, Wasay Jalil, Dr Hassan Zafar Arif (late), Mustafa Azizabadi, Momin Khan Momin, Zafar Rajput, Qasim Ali Raza and Sathi Ishaque were member of the elders’ committee. This group was working as a think tank in Karachi but after divisions in MQM, it is mostly inactive now.
Former Head of Mass Communication Department at Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology (FUUAST), Dr Tauseef says when the Karachi operation began, MQM workers were arrested and large caches of weapons were seized. Many people were killed during the operation. “Due to the Karachi operation, the MQM has lost its grip on the city,” he said.
Many MQM leaders have settled abroad after announcing their disassociation from Altaf Hussain, he said. “MQM headquarters Nine Zero and other offices were sealed and militant wings were busted by Sindh Rangers. Khalid Maqbool, Farooq Sattar and Mustafa Kamal do not have the ability to lead the Mohajir community as Hussain did,” said Dr Tauseef.
After the destructions of Yadgar-e-Shuhada in Azizabad, Dr Farooq Sattar alleged that Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan’s senior leader Amir Khan was behind the destruction of Yadgar-e-Shuhada. MQM-Pakistan leader Amir Khan blamed it on security agencies.
The writer is a journalist based in Karachi. He can be reached on Twitter @Zafar_Khan5