PPP may poach more disgruntled Muttahida men amid anti-‘N’ push

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• Two ex-MQM-P lawmakers join Bilawal’s party
• Khalid Maqbool sarcastically thanks PPP for ‘picking up their trash’

KARACHI: After the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s (MQM-P) deal with the PML-N, the PPP has hit back by successfully luring two former Muttahida lawmakers, and is said to be in an advanced stage of talks with certain other disgruntled MQM-P members to get their support before the announcement of the election schedule, it emerged on Monday.

However, sources in the MQM-P blamed their nemesis, the Altaf Hussain-led MQM-London, for sending its loyalist to the PPP just to hurt the group that had parted ways with their London-based founder after his Aug 22, 2016 incendiary speech.

The MQM-P and the PML-N had recently agreed on a seat adjustment pact that is seen by many as an anti-PPP move that could give the latter an advantage in urban areas of Sindh during the general elections.

Although several former lawmakers and office-bearers of the MQM-P had joined the PPP over the past two years, the recent inclusion of two former lawmakers into the PPP — ex-MNA Muzammil Qureshi and MPA Wasim Qureshi — has created ripples. Muzammil had announced the decision during a meeting with PPP-Parliamentarian president Asif Zardari, while Wasim pledged allegiance to the PPP at a public meeting held on Sunday in district Central.

But the MQM-P is trying to play down the development. At a workers’ convention held on Sunday, MQM-P convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui “thanked the PPP for picking up our trash”. And at the same event, senior leader Mustafa Kamal described those joining “the sinking ship” of the PPP as “mad persons” and announced that none of them would be taken back into the party fold.

He went one step further when he blamed the leadership of the Altaf Hussain-led MQM, commonly known as MQM-London, for facilitating the PPP, particularly in district Central, and said that the former ruling party in Sindh was banking on the possible call of boycott of elections from London.

An MQM-P source told Dawn that most party workers or former lawmakers who had joined the PPP had not been active in the party. “Some people in our party suspect that MQM-London is sending its loyalists to the PPP to weaken and damage us in the upcoming elections.”

However, London-based convener of the MQM-L Mustafa Azizabadi termed the allegations “false” and part of a baseless propaganda against the party leadership.

“It’s the Bahadurabad group that had made a deal with the PPP [before the completion of term of the provincial assembly] to get its MPA appointed as the leader of the opposition in the Sindh Assembly,” he said. “Mustafa Kamal had said in a speech that he had evidence. I challenge him to present the so-called evidence in front of the people in any public meeting.”

He said that the MQM-P was levelling allegations only because the “Mohajir people” had rejected them.

MQM-P sources said that there were two schools of thought in the party and the first group wanted to have an understanding with the PPP, but the other group who stressed the need to continue their partnership with the PML-N prevailed.

“Blaming MQM-London for our own weaknesses is not the right thing. Everyone knows many leaders have been sidelined after the merger between PSP and MQM-P… so there should be no surprise if some of them have joined or going to join or even considering joining the PPP,” another MQM-P source said, adding that this would not have happened had the MQM-P not joined hands with the PML-N so early.

The PPP leadership, however, has kept its cards very close to the chest as they are not even naming names in private conversation of those planning to join.

Senator Nisar Khuhro, the provincial president of the PPP, told Dawn that his party had welcomed all those leaders and workers of the MQM-P who wanted to become part of mainstream politics and believed on the supremacy of the Constitution, solidarity of the country and democracy.

“We will welcome all MQM-P workers and leaders who are ready to join the PPP, but there will be no compromise on the Constitution and the integrity of Sindh.”

Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2023