KARACHI - In the first ever press conference at Karachi Press Club after being tagged as Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) London, members of Interim Coordination Committee of the party said on Saturday there was no difference between Pakistan and London chapters of the party.

They blamed Dr Farooq Sattar and Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui for ‘hijacking’ the party founded by Altaf Hussain.

It was the first press conference by MQM- London leaders after August 22 incident when MQM-London chief Altaf Hussain had raised anti-state slogans and resultantly MQM Pakistan, led by Dr Farooq Sattar, disassociated itself from the London chapter.

Those who attended the press briefing included Prof Hassan Zafar Arif, Advocate Sathi Ishaq, Kanwar Khalid Younus, Ismail Sitara and others. A large number of party workers were also present outside the press club and were shouting slogans in favour of MQM-London chief. Rangers cordoned off the KPC and even barred the media men from entering its premises. However, later the media men were allowed to enter when a body of journalists intervened.

The newly-inducted coordination committee member, Prof Hassan Zafar Arif, while reposing confidence in the leadership of Altaf Hussain at the press conference, argued that all attempts to damage MQM had remained unsuccessful, and that party could not even imagine minus-Altaf formula.

“There is no such thing as MQM-Pakistan Chapter. MQM is only one which is headed by Altaf Hussain,” he said, adding that Altaf had already apologised to the nation over contents of his August 22 speech but the apology was not accepted.” “Even party’s senior leaders have switched their loyalties to others,” he regretted. “We are holding this press briefing in response to minus-Altaf formula,” he said, and reiterated, “Neither the minus formula can be implemented now nor is it ever possible in future. Altaf Hussain is an unchallengeable component of MQM,” said Arif. He opined that the MQM chief was only authorised to make amendments in the party’s constitution.

“Dr Farooq Sattar, MQM-Pakistan chapter chief, is rubbish,” he remarked.

He alleged that Dr Farooq Sattar, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and others had ‘hijacked’ the party founded by Altaf.

Arif further said this was not the first time attempts were being made to divide MQM. “In fact, MQM-Haqqiqi was launched in the past with the support of establishment to dent Altaf’s MQM,” he said, and alleged, “Similarly, the establishment-sponsored Mustafa Kamal’s Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) is making efforts to make people leave MQM.”

He said operations were carried out against MQM, its members were arrested, the party's headquarters were sealed and cases were launched against Altaf Hussain, but the party had remained intact.

“The MQM chief should not be treated like a convict just because there are cases against him,” he contended.

“It is right of Altaf to defend himself in the courts and being his brothers, it is our responsibility to defend him. No one should stop us from doing that,” he said emphatically.

He recalled that MQM had not been registered in the name of Altaf Hussain as he had left the country before the party’s registration.

Further criticising Mustafa Kamal, he said that the establishment had brought back home some people who had sold their conscience to finish MQM.

“People have witnessed that they have been gifted bungalows worth millions of rupees and are now living lavishly. However, the Karachiites have rejected PSP politics,” he claimed.

Calling for lifting media ban on MQM chief, he said the government should lift all media restrictions on Altaf Hussain.

“MQM should be allowed to continue its peaceful political activities without any hindrance,” he demanded. He also demanded that media trial of the party be ended.

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Speaking on the occasion, Ishaq Advocate informed that the MQM chief had constituted a new decision making body to project the party’s stance while the members had also been directed to coordinate with MQM London leadership.

He called upon the government and law-enforcement agencies to reopen sealed offices of MQM, including its headquarters, Nine-Zero, and Khursheed Begum Secretariat.

On the other hand, MQM-Pakistan leader Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, while responding to Saturday’s press conference by MQM-London, has said that everyone has the right to express its stance, but the time will prove as to whose stance was right.

“The party is same: MQM. But the ideologies are different and the time will tell as to whose action was in favour of the nation,” he said, and added that MQM-Pakistan had only disassociated itself from the August 22 speech and now identified itself with the viewpoint, it had given on August 23.

“We will go home if people reject our way of grappling with the issues,” he pledged.