Altaf faces interview with Najam Sethi
By Ahmed Hashmi
There is a long synopsis of the interview of Mr. Altaf Hussain, leader of the Muttahida Quami Movement who was interviewed by a renowned journalist named Najam Sethi while in London, United Kingdom.
Altaf started answering questions by offering Najam Sethi with a self-hand-made Haleem party then moving on to clarifying the allegations on his party came during Military operation against his party in 1992.
At the beginning of the interview, Altaf Hussain reveals that Nawaz Sharif agreed after his first term government that no operation against mqm will ever take place in future now.
Najam Sethi asked about how you plan to work with Nawaz Sharif if he becomes prime minister, of which Altaf said that his party has got its doors of negotiations open for all political parties.
Changing the ladder, Altaf Hussain tells about some facts about how mqm was accused of Hakeem Said murder of which the court proved the party innocent.
Altaf also tells about the fact that there was an APC held in London in which Nawaz Sharif presented with a clause in the MoU that no party should negotiate with MQM for any coalition, where as Pakistan People’s Party was the only party which disagreed to sign the clause.
After 2008 election, Altaf addressing in his first speech, congratulated Nawaz Sharif by his name and publically told Nawaz Sharif that MQM is a democratic party and accepts its mandate with an open heart. When Najam Sethi asked if Nawaz Sharif responded to your good gesture, Altaf Hussain said that no such message came from the other side.
Altaf complained that after elections, Nawaz didn’t openly accept the victory mandate of MQM and accepted that MQM is Pakistan’s third largest political party.
Altaf Hussain said about the peace situation of Karachi that, ever since the law and order situation turned foil in northern areas of Pakistan, the situation has begun to turn violent in Karachi.
Altaf asked Najam Sethi to consider the crime records of month of June 2009; and see yourself what kind of Taliban have been arrested from Karachi possessing highly explosive materials and automatic weapons. He said that Taliban are trying to settle in the outskirts of Karachi where the middle and lower-middle class neighborhood of citizen been living since decades.
Answering to a question by Najam Sethi that why nationalist parties and Muttahida Quami Movement have a similar agenda to keep the IDPs out of Sindh, MQM chief Altaf Hussain said that the nationalist parties are against any arrival of the displaced people, whereas Muttahida Quami Movement is welcoming IDPs but just with a condition that the people arriving must be registered and information like their names, father names be recorded and they be settled in a separate designated area.
Najam Sethi questioned Altaf Hussain about the violence took place in the beginning of June of which Altaf Hussain responded that MQM had announced within the citizens of Karachi and asked them to establish citizen’s vigilance committees to overlook any Talibanization taking place there, and as a result Taliban took preemptive measures and started violent actions.
Furthering to that, Altaf said that Taliban started a land grabbing activity in the outskirts of Karachi, which resulted in locals defending their neighborhood which then turned violent.
At a point during interview, Najam Sethi mentioned that it has been you Altaf Hussain who has been the first to signal the danger of Taliban to Pakistan, your party was the first party and we saluted you, and now all the Pakistan seconds your policy against Taliban. Najam also mentioned that when Muttahida Quami Movement first began to denounce Taliban, other political parties started supporting Taliban and literally called them heroes as they were fighting against their common enemy ‘America’.
Altaf said that he salute the officers and soldiers of the Pakistan Army, Frontier Constabulary, and Police who are fighting war against Taliban in the northern areas of Pakistan.
Altaf Hussain mentioned one key thing of his point that he has been signaling danger of Taliban in Pakistan from last 2-3 years and if a proper action would have then taken, the situation would have not been worst like it is at present.
When Najam Sethi asked why Gen (R) Pervez Musharraf did not, the then president of Pakistan, took actions against the Taliban to such extent, Altaf said that Muttahida Quami Movement was a collation party and was not the absolute authority to take actions, but did what was possible by informing via phone calls and giving press statements to take actions. Altaf also mentioned that Muttahida Quami Movement took a different stance on the issue of Baluchistan than that of the government in power.
Altaf Hussain said that on the 12th May it was a conspiracy against Muttahida Quami Movement by the hidden forces that literally provided weapons, funds and MQM party flags to some covert persons and sent them to hide themselves in different parties during the rally. Altaf said that witnesses including photographs, video films can be presented into the courts if asked.
Altaf Hussain questioned Najam Sethi that how could MQM even think of any violence taking place on the 12th May rally in which thousands of women and children, including mothers, sisters and daughters were participating. Altaf said that if MQM had pre-planned any violence, then why would they have let the rally be attended by their supporter women and children?
While smiling Najam Sethi asks Altaf Hussain, What is a secret hand and hidden force? Responding to that Altaf Hussain said that Ojri Camp incident – it was a secret hand, Liaqat Ali Khan murder – was a secret hand, Benazir Bhutto assassination, – was a secret hand, a number of lost democratic governments – it was a secret hand, which is still secret and a mystery.
He explicitly took name of Punjab and said that the awareness is being spread in Punjab now, and said that just like your wife (Najam Sethi’s wife), stood to raise her voice against Taliban, the message that the status-quo of feudal class and a country’s ruling by some special blessed families, is spreading wider than before, who have been ruling the country from last 60 plus years.
Altaf Hussain said that Muttahida Quami Movement is the only party in Pakistan which is against feudal system in Pakistan, which is against the ‘selling’ of assembly tickets, and that’s the only reason that neither I have ever contested an election for senate, provincial or national assembly, for speaker, deputy speaker or for mayor or deputy mayor, nor my any brother, sister contested ever have.
Najam Sethi asked that why the people of Punjab do not like the anti-feudal and anti-family-politics ideology of Muttahida Quami Movement of which Altaf answered that in Punjab, there has been a massive propaganda against MQM that will take a while to negate itself and this is going to take some time.
When Najam Sethi asked who did this propaganda, the chief of MQM said that the ‘country’s feudal elite’ and a coalition of generals of the army and civil bureaucrats, and the trica of these forces who wants to maintain this status quo.
Altaf asked that more Muslims are living in India than in Pakistan, being the Muslim power divided. He said that if we suppose for a while what if Quaid-e-Azam’s 14 point were accepted by Congress as is and subcontinent was not divided.
He said that a very few people are aware of this fact that, in his address at Allahabad India during Presidential Address on the 25th Session of the All India Muslim League on 29th December 1930; Allama Iqbal never asked for the establishment of the state of Pakistan, but instead he said that wherever there is a Muslim majority in sub-continent, it should be formed into a small state.
Altaf said that the people of Punjab can verify this statement by the son of Allama Iqbal, Justice Rtrd. Dr. Javed Iqbal.
Najam Sethi asked about the Jinnahpur saga which was made a reason to eliminate Muttahida Quami Movement during the 1992 operation. Najam Sethi said that the whole picture now sounds like propaganda as now Muhammad Ali Durrani has also presented a bill in the Senate of Pakistan that there should be smaller provinces coming out of 4 large provinces.
Answering to the Jinnahpur saga which was raged against MQM, Altaf Hussain said that there was a Brigadier named Asif Nawaz who was at that time present in Karachi, called a press conference in which he invited the journalists from Punjab but never invited any single journalist from Karachi & Sindh and presented them with fake and fictitious Maps of Jinnahpur and lured them to publish the maps on their front pages of newspapers with the news of MQM secretly planning a Jinnahpur.
Altaf said that just a few days later, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) which is a public relations department of forces o Pakistan, sent an in-writing clarification to the media, stating that the Pakistan Army have never found any Jinnahpur Map or plan from any office of Muttahida Quami Movement and this information is completely baseless.
Altaf complained that the ISPR clarification that no such thing as Jinnahpur existed, did not get as much media attention as it was when MQM was blamed, and newspapers published just a one-column news, where as the Jinnahpur propaganda news against MQM was placed in the headlines of the newspapers.
Najam Sethi asked if MQM approached court against the defamation of the party with the Jinnahpur propaganda, to which Altaf said that since there is a clarification already published in the newspapers, nothing more can be done now to recover from the defamation.
Answering to another question of having smaller provinces in Pakistan is feasible; he said that that this is a global phenomena to create multiple administrative units by introducing more smaller provinces just like we have seen India.
Altaf said that the population of Punjab is equal to that of whole Iran, which has 36 provinces. Having that in front of us, there is a dire need of creating new administrative units. As people of Saraiki area and people of Bahawalpur are demanding creation of new provinces, as this will be in the favor of the country and will make it further easy to administer and will also ease the federal government’s job.
Altaf Hussain said that this is also written in the manifesto of Muttahida Quami Movement that the demand of Saraiki people and the people of south Punjab be fulfilled with the creation of a new province who have been complaining that they have been the servants of the throne of Lahore since the creation of Pakistan.
The leader of the MQM said that during my address in the India, I said that Pakistan is a reality and India is a reality and both the countries should accept each other with an open heart. Staging war and rift relations between militaries of the both countries is not in the favor of the citizens of the countries. The people of the both countries should be allowed to roam freely and there should be open trade to improve economic ties.
Najam said that two days ago I asked Gen (R) Pervez Musharraf that who is our enemy? If it’s India which is our enemy? As it has been told us from the last 40-50 years, on it is not. Responding that Pervez Musharraf said that there is a threat from India, but our enemy is Taliban.
Commenting on the statement of Pervez Musharraf, Altaf Hussain said that unfortunately there has been ruling elite in both the countries which have taught their citizens that India and Pakistan are enemies of each other. He also said that both the countries are now an equipped with nuclear arsenal and this is not easy to say that even after being nuclear powers, two countries could afford to go in a war.
Altaf said that this is my humble request to leaders of Pakistan and India that they should improve relations and learn from the history of Europe. He mentioned that countries in Europe have fought countless number of wars for 1000 years, including first and second world wars and there are countless number of one-to-one wars and now they have learnt from it. He also said that if we look at Europe, now they have learnt this lesson that there are no benefits of war.
Najam Sethi asked Altaf Hussain about what do you think if the Judiciary is free to decide in Pakistan? Responding to it Altaf said that the justice should be easily accessible by common people and not just the elite class. He said that the justice also be served to the people who are jailed for as long as 15 years for minor crimes and supreme court should also take suo moto action on it.
At the end, Najam Sethi asked about the NRO as it helped to overcome political cases against all parties, to which Altaf replied that this can be better decided in the court of law of how to deal with NRO, and if the NRO gets declared illegal, Muttahida Quami Movement will contest any pending case the way it has contested the others.
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