PSP pries open MQM strongholds for the taking

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By Naimat Khan

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KARACHI: A group of influential Bihari activists convened at Karachi’s Shah Faisal Chowk in Orangi Town a few days after MQM dissenters Mustafa Kamal and Anis Qaimkhani fired a salvo at Altaf Hussain and announced their dramatic exit from the party in a fiery press conference.

The activists held a ‘Bihari Jirga’ where they pledged to never allow Kamal to enter the area. The jirga’s head, Tariq Noor Malik, better known as Tariq Bihari, had convened two jirgas in recent years following the murder of MQM leader Dr Imran Farooq in London in September 2010.

Yet, a few days after the third and final jirga, Bihari was spotted at the temporary office of the Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP), formed by Kamal and Qaimkhani, on Khayaban-e-Rahat.

The change of heart on Bihari’s part has paved the way for PSP to enter Orangi, which holds historic significance as the place from where the Mohajir Qaumi Mahaz was launched in the 1980s. The party later came to be known as the Mohajir Qaumi Movement and, finally, as the Muttahida Qaumi Movement.

“Tariq Bihari left for London where he resides. He comes and plays his part of game,” confided one of his close friends. “Before his meeting with Kamal, Bihari had been collecting printed stuff against former mayor”, his friend claims, adding though he had left the country before the Kamal’s visit, people, though not from his background but under his influence was present to materialize the plan.”

Another insider confirms Bihari negotiated the deal however an active group of former Pasban activists working for stranded Pakistanis of Bangladesh was the real force behind Kamal’s entry into the MQM’s stronghold.

Shaukatullah, a close aide of Shafi Ahmed who was chief of his own group of Pasban, and nearly two dozen of the group members were given the task to ensure smooth entry into town where the Bihari Qaumi Movement (BQM) and several others had failed to leave evident marks.

Shafi Ahmed, who started his political journey from Jamaat-e-Islami’s student wing, Islami Jamiat Talaba, joined Pasban on the eve of general elections in 1993. However, when the then JI Chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed disowned Pasban, Ahmed came close to Haseeb Hashmi, a former lawmaker and leader of Tehreek-e-Ittehad Pakistan working for stranded Pakistanis.

Ahmed later parted ways with Altaf Shakoor faction of Pasban and formed his own group, which he dissolved before joining PML-N during the General polls of 2013.  Ahmed died in a road accident on October 28, 2015, which his friends believe was ‘murder’ allegedly by people in his new political clique, who thought Ahmed was a political threat to them, a local journalist from the town told this scribe.

PSP in Orangi

With joining of Pasban’s guys, the PSP leader Mustafa Kamal briefly appeared in Orangi on April 8, 2016 to invite locals to attend 24th April rally. Here Mustafa Kamal called on higher authorities to give people of Orangi their ‘identity cards’ – an important issue of majority of the town. The second issue he raised was the water problem.

The proper entry he gave in Orangi was on August 31, 2016. Flanked by supporters and other party leaders, Kamal took his party’s public drive to the town where he urged the dwellers to follow him to “secure their rights”.

“You were told to sell VCRs and buy guns but I say buy books, books and education are our identity,” Kamal was quoted as speaking.

The town that matters

Orangi, the largest slum town in Asia, has housed people of different ethnicities but the Biharis who migrated from East Pakistan are in vast majority.

The demography of the town makes Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) a perfect choice for inhabitants of the area, opines Mazhar Abbas, Karachi based political analyst. Since, PSP is comprised of MQM dissidents there is space available for it.

“Pak Sarzameen Party is a party of MQM’s dissenters and many of them are from Bihari community. Therefore, a real space is available and the PSP will try to use it for increasing its mandate in the city,” says Abbas.

Bihari Qaumi Movement (BQM)

PSP is not the only group which has tried to enter into MQM’s footrest.

“The Town once known for the Biharis die-hard loyalists of Altaf Hussain, witnessed the rise of Bihari Qaumi Movement (BQM) but the movement suffered setback first with the death of its backer Dr Imran Farooq on 16 September 2010,” inform Abu Salam Ahmed, a local journalist, adding over two months later, Aftab Malik the MQM founder, chief and ex-UC Nazim of Orangi Town UC 14, was gunned down in Orangi Town on November 27, 2010.

Initially it was Dr. Imran Farooq, one of the MQM’s founding members and a Bihari who contributed a lot in influencing people from Bihar residing in Orangi Town to join MQM. “He could have made changes for BQM had he been alive.”

Orangi is the town, where the famous Qasba–Aligarh massacre occurred.  It was the flashpoint of ethnic violence in the city in eighties.  “Though we saw Haseeb Hashmi, Afaq Shahid and Shafi Ahmed claiming electoral victories but the locality’s ethnic environ never allowed any real change without ethnic color,” opines Wakeel Ur Rehman, a reporter covering ethnic groups.

“Only time will prove if the PSP, dominantly another Mohajir party, can take over the MQM constituency,” Rehman said.

Claver moves

On the model of enfolding electable for election victory – a model being practiced in Pakistani and elsewhere in Asian political arena – the PSP has adopted to enfold those with some force – right or wrong and legal or illegal – to win the strongholds.

This newspaper reported that Tariq Tareen, an alleged member of the ANP’s militant wing along with several workers of ANP and PSF announced to join the Mustafa Kamal’s Pak Sarzameen Party in its debut public gathering held at Bagh-e-Jinnah, Karachi on April 24, 2016.

Abdul Malik, the ANP spokesperson, told The Frontier Post that when Tareen was president of Pakhtun Student Federation (PSF), the party leadership dissolved PSF just because of Tareen wrongdoings.

Recently, some media reports claimed former gangsters of Liyari, a town in old city with Baloch ethnic dominance, have joined PSP. Like Sohrab Goth and Gulistan-e-Jauhar, where Tareen had authority and Lyari where the former gangsters-turned PSP workers have influence, in Orangi the group having joined PSP is effective one and will increase the PSP’s ‘strength’, analysts believe.

Published in The Frontier Post

 

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“No go area” for others, PSP conquers ANP fortress 

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“Sohrab Goth and its adjacent areas were strategically very important for the ANP, as on the direction of party command, the members had capacity to block Super Highway within five minutes, disconnecting the city from the rest of the country”,

Naimat Khan

KARACHI: A man with AK-47 roams around main gate of ‘Gulshan View’ apartment whereas Deen Muhammad Wazir tells about the threats workers of Awami National Party are facing.

It’s one of the January 2013 evenings when this scribe was doing a story on Taliban’s presence in Karachi.

Red flags would wave on the main gate and throughout the apartment, which was ‘unofficial’ headquarters in ANP’s stronghold, where Deen Muhammad Wazir would regularly sit alongwith other two of “DIT” – Ismail and Tariq Tareen.

Wazir’s worries regarding open threats to his life proved real by the end of the year when Taliban gunned him down near Janjal Goth on December 2, 2013.

In the coming years Tariq Tareen emerged as sole force of Al Asif Square, Sohrab Goth, Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Rabia city and Mekasa apartment.

No Go area for rivals

“With most powerful men from Pakhtun Student Federation (PkSP) reining the area, it had become a ‘no go area’ for rivals of ANP, including MQM, JI, PTI and JUI-F, who couldn’t dare to hold a rally or organize any political activity here,” recalls *Ayub Dawar, a shopkeeper and worker of ANP.

Dawar remembers the day when ANP and MQM workers would fight with each others for controlling most of Abdul Hasan Isfahani road, forcing the then Town Nazim of MQM – Wasay Jalil, who is now MQM’s central leader – to strike a written agreement with Gulshan-e-View boys.

According to the agreement, Dawar informs, the MQM workers couldn’t cross the bridge in front of famous Bara Market, which is situated few yards away from Abbas Town. Jalil, despite several attempts to reach him, was not available for comment.

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Deen Muhammad Wazir, who was killed by Taliban in Dec 2013, in Janjal Goth, Karachi

Change of regime

Though still the posters of ‘Shah Kalam Shaheed’ and ‘Deen Muhammad Wazir Shaheed’ hang at the entrance of ‘Gulshan View’ and red flags have been replaced with Pakistani flags – also flags of Mustafa Kamal’s newly launched party. The name of Pak Sarzameen Party has also been inscribed at the main entrance.

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Tariq Tareen ( TT) who recently joined Mustafa Kamal’s Pak Sarzameen Party

At right side of the apartments local chief of ANP Umar Badshah Mehsud has setup a stall to campaign for the May 12 to remember the day when dozens of ANP workers on their way to Jinnah International Airport to greet the then deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry were bathed in blood by rival party.

Inside stall few of the ANP workers are sitting. “As we are going to mourn the deaths of our fateful fellow workers, Shahi Syed is holding Valima Ceremony of his son in Islamabad,” a disgruntled ANP worker complained.

‘Dry cleaned’

Tariq Tareen alongwith several workers of ANP and PSF announced to join the Mustafa Kamal’s Pak Sarzameen Party in its debut public gathering held at Bagh-e-Jinnah, Karachi on April 24, 2016.

A local ANP worker and former comrade of Tariq Tareen (TT) told this scribe that like many MQM’s tented workers, TT found it good opportunity to get ‘dry cleaned’ at Mustafa Kamal’s Defence laundry.

“Tareen who “manages” some 370 flats in different apartments is still ruling alongwith Deen Muhammad Wazir’s nephew Sultan Wazir the areas of Rabia City, Jauhar, Micasa Luxury Apartment and Al-Asif Square,” he said. Wazir hasn’t left ANP yet but it’s Tareen who has say in everything, a worker said.

“When Tareen was picked up by Rangers in 2013 people took to streets and burnt vehicles, carts and tyres near Rabia City in Gulistan-e-Jauhar, showing his influence in the area,” he recalls, adding Tareen would also help PSP to gain ground in Gulistan-e-Jauhar and Sohrab Goth.

“Sohrab Goth and its adjacent areas were strategically very important for the ANP, as on the direction of party command, the members had capacity to block Super Highway within five minutes, disconnecting the city from the rest of the country”, another ANP leader said on the condition not to be named.

The ANP spokesperson, however, claimed Tareen had never been part of Awami National Party. “When Tareen was president of Pakhtun Student Federation (PSF), the party leadership dissolved PSF just because of Tareen wrongdoings,” Abdul Malik, the ANP Sindh’s spokesman said.

“We still have impact in Sohrab Goth and other parts from where hundreds of workers have come to attend the party’s May 12 public gathering in Banaras today,” he said.

“It’s the criminal record of Tareen, due to which he was refused the basic membership of ANP,” Malik added.

*Name has been changed to protect privacy.

Published in The Frontier Post

Arrest of Soran’s Killer: Sikh Community wants KPK to ‘do more’

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File Photo of Dr Sardar Soran Singh, adviser to Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on minorities affairs, who was murdered by fellow minority leader of PTI over ticket row. 

KARACHI: Happy with arrest of alleged killer of Dr Sardar Soran Singh, the Sikh Community of Karachi has urged upon the provincial government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf to show similar passion to arrest killers of eight other Sikhs being murdered in the Northern Province over the last couple of years.

Sardar Soran Sindh bags the credit of opening a Gurdwara in Peshawar, which was close for more than seventy years, say Ramesh Singh Khalsa, patron in chief of Pakistan Sikh Council.

“He met me at Hasan abadal – a holly place of our community in Pakistani Punjab – some fifteen days before his murder, and he was happy due to the great work he was during for the Sikh Community.”

He actively raised the voice of community in KPK’s provincial assembly, he would happily help orphan Sikh youths, he was a nice man, Khalsa said. Soran was also working on initiating some legislation for the community.

“Sardar Soran Singh was enjoying the portfolio of provincial minister, so his killers are apprehended so quickly, which we appreciate, however, we demand of the provincial government of PTI to arrest the killers of eight other Sikhs who are being killed for different reasons.”

It should be noted that a Sikh Hakeem, Paramjeet Singh, was killed in Shabqadar bazaar by unknown assailants in March 2014. His employee was also gunned down.  Earlier, on January 22, another Sikh Hakeem Baghwan Singh was murder in Charsadda’s Tangi Bazaar. Year 2014 was a bad year for the community as two other Sikhs were kidnapped from DI Khan in the same month.” The events prompted protest of the community.

According to reports quoting late Dr Soran Singh, the adviser to the CM on minorities, who gunned down in Buner few days ago, there are about 25,000 Sikhs in the province,  mostly in Buner, Swat, DI Khan, Bara, Khyber, Kurram and Orakzai agencies.

Zia Ur Rehman – a Karachi based journalist and researcher – says nearly two dozens of Sikhs, mostly associated with the profession of Himat [ doctors of herbal medicines] have migrated to Karachi from different parts of the KPK due to fears of being prosecuted.

Interestingly, the community remained unharmed in Swat and Buner, even during the Taliban rule.

However, the Taliban statement, in which they falsely claimed the responsibility of Soran Sindh’s murder, terrorized the community. Khalsa says that since the Taliban’s Statement has turned out to be false, it will certainly cut down the fear but the community is feeling unsafe due to other acts of target killing as well.

“The provincial government should take action and arrest all killers to rebuild the trust of community,” Khalsa demands. Rehman believes that the trend of migration may not be stopped but will slow down if strict action was taken by KPK government and its law enforcement agencies.

It is pertinent to mention here that while addressing news conference Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Malakand Azad Khan claimed on Monday that a fellow PTI leader Baldev Kumar was behind the murder of Soran Singh as he wanted to avenge political rivalry.

According to Khan, a local leader of PML-N Alam Khan was also involved in the murder, falsely claimed by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.

Published in The Frontier Post

Why did Sindh vote for PPP?

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The reasons behind the party’s remarkable victory in local elections

Why did Sindh vote for PPP?


Despite a setback in Badin and some lost ground in Lyari, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has seen a major victory in Sindh. The party has won all the district councils in the first two phases of local elections, a majority 21 of the 38 councils in Karachi District Council (KDC), and 17 union committees of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC).

Its former ally, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), will run Hyderabad, the KMC, and four of its districts – the Central, West, Korangi and East districts.

The PPP is in control of the KDC – consisting of the city’s suburbs – and the South and Malir districts. It will also rule over the rest of Sindh.

Coming at a time when the party is being accused of corruption and poor governance in the province, the remarkable victory has raised a lot of questions.

“The PPP hasn’t won the elections because of its performance,” says Jami Chandio, executive director of the Center for Peace and Civil Society (CPCS), a think tank based in Sindh. “There are several other factors that have helped the party retain support among voters.” An emotional bond between the party and the Sindhi masses is not one of them, he says. That bond does not exist any longer.

“People believe that a party in power can better resolve their routine problems, even if it fails to deliver on a larger scale,” says Irshad Khokhar, a Karachi based journalist who covers governance and politics in Sindh.

A key factor is that there is no competition. “The PML-N has never aimed to expand its base in Sindh,” says Chandio. “The PTI could have been an alternative, but it focused solely on Karachi and paid little attention to rural Sindh.” Sindhi ethnic political parties have become irrelevant, he says. “They never came out of the politics of the 1980s. They could have revisited their narratives, but they haven’t done so, probably deliberately.”

Veteran journalist Riaz Sohail says Sindhi ethnic parties practice “issue-based politics”, and that does not translate into electoral success. They are weak in “politics of constituencies”. Jalal Mehmood Shah’s Jeay Sindh group and Ayaz Palijo’s Awami Tehreek are exceptions to some extent, he says, but they focus on specific narrow areas.

‘They backed Hindu candidates to defeat the Arbabs’

The PPP defeated a possible contender, the PML-F, with good strategy. “The People’s Party worked hard, bringing on board anyone who had even ten or twenty votes. No such mobilization was seen on the part of the PML-F,” says Riaz Sohail. When some of the party’s workers were killed in the first phase of the elections, there were no major protests. Riaz says that may have been viewed negatively by the PML-F voters. The party had six district Nazims in 2005. Now, it will have none.

The two major parties – the PPP and the MQM – have been criticized for not challenging each other, focusing on their own separate areas of interest.

“There is a strong misconception that the people of Sindh don’t consider the governance factor. The real question is, what alternatives do they have?” says Jami Chandio. “They feel secure voting for the PPP and the MQM, and the two parties exploit their voters by making them feel insecure.”

There is a strong perception among Sindhis that if they do not vote for the PPP, the power will shift to the MQM. “Whenever the MQM has formed a coalition government with anyone other than the PPP, it has been the primary center of power,” says Chandio.

Wakeelur Rehman, a local journalist, agrees. “The local council elections in Karachi highlighted the same feeling of insecurity among the Urdu speaking people, which helped the MQM win in Urdu speaking localities,” he says.

The only signs of a formidable opposition can be seen in the large number of independent candidates that won this time. “Voters in small cities have shown political maturity and reacted to bad governance,” Riaz Sohail says. “The total votes to parties other than the PPP and independent candidates is higher than the number of votes to the PPP. The anti-PPP vote is divided.”

An interesting phenomenon in these elections is the massive defeat of three major influential political families – the Arbabs of Tharparkar, the Sheerazis of Thattha and the Jatois of Moro and Naushehro Feroz. “The PPP wiped out the Arbabs by fielding Hindu candidates,” according to Chandio. “That strategy worked well for it.” In the past, most of the candidates belonged to the Muslim minority or upper class Hindus, but the provincial ministers Gayan Chand Esrani and Kato Mal, both from scheduled castes, played a major role in awarding tickets to people from the scheduled castes. In all three cases, a mistrust towards former representatives and the fact that the PPP is in power in the province were also critical factors.

The writer is a Karachi-based journalist

Email: undisclosedtruth@gmail.com

Twitter: @NKMalazai

Pashtuns stand above ethnic biases in LG elections

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An ethnic community opts for Pakistan as ‘Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi cards’ yield results in Karachi

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Naimat Khan

KARACHI: While the Urdu, Punjabi and Sindhi speaking communities succumbed to ethic politics, the Pashtun community of Karachi stood above cultural bias in the recently held local government elections, unofficial results show.

Local government elections were held in six districts of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) and one Karachi District Council (KDC) on December 5, in which the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) secured first and second positions, respectively.

Both the parties attracted the ethnic Urdu- and Sindhi-speaking electorates in Karachi, a microcosm of Pakistan where class and cultural divisions increasing by the day.

Similarly, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had focused on neighbourhoods with a majority of Punjabi and Hazara populations, yielding sought-after results.

According to unofficial results so far, the MQM has won 50 of 51 Union Committees (UC) in district Central, and 26 of 37 UCs in district Korangi, 19 of 30 UCs in district East and 21 of 46 seats in district West. It also managed to secure nine of 32 UCs in district South, and four of 13 seats in district Malir.

The results clearly show a divide – the MQM won from areas where a majority of Urdu-speaking populace resides.

Muttahida failed to win even a single seat from KDC, which comprises the Sindhi-speaking population. The PPP grabbed a majority of UCs from here, despite an alliance against it of former party leaders as well as some Baloch tribal leaders.

The PPP, once a federal party with representation in all four provinces of the country, has been reduced to being a ‘Sindhi’ party.

However, results show a mixed trend in Pashtun-dominated localities of the city, as candidates of different parties have won from Landhi and Keamari areas of district West.

The PPP, PML-N, PTI, Jamaat-e-Islami, Awami National Party, Pakistan Rah-e-Haq Party (PRHP), Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazl as well as independent candidates have secured seats of chairmen, vice chairmen and councilors from these areas.

ANP, which has been using the Pashtun card, could only manage to win one seat from its symbol Laltain from Mominabad, Zia Colony.

Pashtun nationalism vs. Pakistan

“Pashtuns of Karachi have been misled. They have failed to demonstrate the desirable Pashtun nationalism,” says ANP General Secretary Younas Buneri. “Undesirable circumstances for the ANP, which was under direct attack from religious extremists, are a major factor [which has contributed to the Pashtun divide].”

Buneri says his party has so far won five seats for vice-chairmen and 19 UCs, mostly in alliance with other parties and on other symbols.

Niaz Ali Shah, a member of ANP from Landhi was allowed to contest elections as independent candidate due to fears from extremists, he informs, adding, reports of attacks on Rangers and Military Police personnel also prevented Pashtun supporters coming out in large numbers.

The party’s general secretary also sees the campaign by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Amir Sirajul Haq, the sole reason for a split in Pashtun electorates.

“The ANP failed to secure its workers when the Taliban accelerated attacks on them. During this period the leadership went either to Islamabad or abroad, leaving the common worker at the mercy of militants and the law enforcement agencies,” says Wakeelur Rehman, a Karachi-based Psashtun reporter.

Many workers facing threats knocked the door of JI when abandoned by the party, he adds.

“Other communities may allow its leader to lead them from abroad but among Pashtuns, it’s the most disliked thing.”

“If our association with ANP was a crime in the eyes of Taliban, our identity as Pashtun was enough for police to declare us Taliban,” an ANP worker tells this scribe on condition of anonymity.

The JI held a Pashtun jirga of the victims’ families, mostly ANP workers at Idara Noor-e-Haq – party headquarters – where for the first time in history all speeches were delivered in Pashto language.

“Those were the days when abandoned workers of ANP started looking towards other parties, adds Rehman.

The ANP worker – who wished not to be named – informs that at least 350 party workers are behind bars, which need legal assistance; ANP did not provide a lawyer to anyone.

“When the MQM was developing Qatar hospital for its electorates in Orangi town, ANP was selling medicines of Kulsum Bai Valika Hospital in the medical stores of Metroville,” claims the ANP worker.

Political analyst Dr Tauseef Ahmed Khan, sees a lack of unity among Pashtuns and the growing religiosity as two of the many causes that failed to monetise the ‘Pashtun card’.

Former UC Nazim from Metroville in SITE Town of the city Abdul Razaq insists Pashtuns, though misled in past in the name of Pashtun nationalism, have always preferred ‘Pakistaniat’ over ethnic nationalism.

“Pashtuns have demonstrated political maturity, judging things above ethnic and sectarian lines,” says Razaq, who belongs to JI.

According to economist Kaiser Bengali, Pashtuns by 2045 will be in a majority – 33 per cent of the Karachi population.

Currently, Karachi houses more Pashtuns than Peshawar, Quetta and Kabul, among other cities of the world.

“But whether elected in the name of nationalism or otherwise, our representatives have done nothing for their neighbourhoods, says a Pashtun resident of Keamari. “Pashtun-dominated areas do not look like Karachi – poor infrastructure with a lack of basic facilities.”

 

Left, right and center

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Naimat Khan

In Karachi, a sectarian group’s popularity has attracted both the liberals and the conservatives 

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The PRHP has won 9 Union Committees, the party, which is considered a political front of ASWJ, claims

In a Pashtun neighborhood in Karachi, the left-liberal People’s Party and the sectarian group Pakistan Rahe Haq Party (PRHP) are campaigning together for the local council elections.

Residents of Muzaffarabad Colony, especially the elderly who had seen the ideology-driven politics of the 1970s, are astonished that the two parties – ideologically poles apart – are canvassing for a ‘joint panel’ in the local council.

And so is Dr Tauseef Ahmed Khan, a political analyst and a former chairman of the Mass Communication Department at the Federal Urdu University in Karachi. He is equally surprised that a sectarian group has become so strong that the province’s largest party is compromising on its principles to gain its support.

“We have also seen the Barelvi group Sunni Tehreek and the Shia group Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen becoming active in electoral politics,” he said. “This is not a good sign.”

“The MQM, the PTI and the Jamaat-e-Islami contacted us for seat adjustment, but we have decided to go independent, or to make alliances with other independent candidates,” said Asif Safvi, a spokesman for Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen. The group has fielded three “full panels” of candidates from the Soldier Bazaar, Jaffar Tayyar and Ancholi localities, where people belonging to the Shia school of thought are in majority. “As many as 47 candidates of our party are contesting for local councils in various parts of the city, and we are allying with many independent contesters as well.”

In Muzaffarabad Colony, Maulana Mohuiddin of the PRHP – a Deobandi group founded by a former leader of Sipah-e-Sahaba in 2012 – is running for the chairman of the union council, and Haji Misal Khan, associated with PPP, is his running mate, contesting for vice chairman.

There were reports that their election office was inaugurated by Taj Muhammad Hanafi, a leader of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) – a sectarian political party believed to be an offshoot of Sipah-e-Sahaba. Local leaders of the People’s Party and the ASWJ attended the event, insiders said.

“The dynamics of local politics are different”

The union council falls in the Sindh Assembly constituency in which ASWJ President Maulana Aurangzeb Farooqi (then a candidate of Muttahida Deeni Mahaz, an alliance formed by influential Deobandi cleric Maulana Samiul Haq) bagged 23,625 votes for a narrow loss to MQM’s Waqar Hussain Shah, who got 23,827. The People’s Party candidate in the race could only get 482 votes.

“The dynamics of local politics are different from those of national politics,” says People’s Party Senator Saeed Ghani, who had visited the Deobandi seminary Jamia Banoria on November 12 to get the blessings of its principal Mufti Muhammad Naeem – among the city’s most influential religious leaders. “The PPP had given a free hand to its local leaders to make seat adjustments with various political groups and parties,” he said. Ghani said that the party’s Karachi chapter would probe the matter, but added that PPP candidates would only run under its own election symbol – the arrow.

“We have made electoral alliances with Jamaat-e-Islami and JUI-F in the past,” he said, “but we did not compromise on our principles.”

PPP is not the only liberal party to have made an alliance with the PRHP. In the city’s central district, the Awami National Party (ANP) and PRHP have fielded joint candidates for chairman and vice chairman in the Pashtun neighborhood of Pahar Jang.

“We have more than 250 candidates, and are supporting ANP’s panel in at least three union councils,” said Ashraf Memon, the Karachi chief of the PRHP.

In the UC-2 constituency of the Malir district council, the PRHP has allied with the PML-N. In UC-1, their chairman’s candidate has a Jamaat-e-Islami candidate as his running mate. The two parties have also made alliances in North Karachi.

The party has fielded its own candidates for the chairman and vice chairman of 15 union councils, of which five are in the West district of Karachi, three in the East, three in central district and two each in South district and Malir, Ashraf Memon told me. He said the West district and Malir were his party’s strongholds.

Established in 2012 by Hakeem Muhammad Ibrahim Qasimi – reportedly a former provincial leader of Sipah-e-Sahaba – the PRHP gained attention during the by-polls in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly constituency PK-95 in May this year. Its candidate, Qari Ziaul Haq Haideri, received more than 3,000 votes.

Qasmi – who had been elected to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on an MMA ticket – bagged 6,673 votes in the by-election in Peshawar’s NA-1 constituency vacated by Imran Khan. ANP’s Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour had won the by-poll with 34,386 votes.

The party fielded 20 candidates for district councils in Peshawar in the local elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, its information secretary Irshad Muhammad Haideri had told reporters.

In the first phase of local elections in Sindh, the party won two seats of councilors from Khairpur and Sukkur, and one of its candidate was elected unopposed in Tando Allahyar.

The PRHP spokesman said his party was not associated with the ASWJ. The ASWJ also insists the PRHP is separate entity. But the parties have very similar flags, and many ASWJ leaders are close to the PRHP. Some locals say they use both the names when campaigning.  “We are only supporting them,” said Umar Muawiya, the spokesman of ASWJ.

The writer is a Karachi based journalist

Email: undisclosedtruth@gmail.com

Twitter: @NKMalazai

Published In The Friday Times 

A Deobandi seminary that supports Liberal Left not JUI-F

By Naimat Khan

KARACHI: Thousands of Deobandi seminaries across Pakistan are considered source of electoral strength for the religious political party, JUI-F, but at least one of the major ones have chosen for the second time to announce its support to a liberal political party, it emerged on Thursday.

According to a statement issued by the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, Mufti Muhammad Naeem of Jamia Binoria Aalimiyah – an international Deobandi Islamic educational institute located in Karachi, Pakistan – has  announced to support PPP in the local bodies’ elections to be held on 3rd of December, next month.

According to PPP, the party delegation visited Jamia Binoria Aalimiyah and held a meeting with its administrator Mufti Muhammad Naeem, who assured them of full support local government elections.

“On this occasion Mufti Naeem said that Karachi needed development and for this there was dire need to resolve the problems of people above the political affiliation” the statement quotes him as saying and adding the same thinking was stimulus behind supporting PPP.

On this occasion Senator Saeed Ghani – who was leading the delegation – thanked Mufti Naeem for his support and assured him that the PPP will live up to the exceptions of the people. “According to the manifesto of PPP, masses are the source of power and PPP with the force of masses will defeat the opponents” the statement reads.

The Seminary, situated at 12 acres, imparts education to about 8 thousands students, male and female and is considered one of the few major Madrassahs of the Deobandi school of thought.

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Jamia Binoria Site – also known as Binoria University International and which was founded by the incumbent administrator Mufti Muhammad Naeem under the patronage of his father Qari Abdul Haleem in 1979 – had supported Muttahida Qaumi Movement in the 2008 general polls.

Instead of JUI-F, Mufti Naeem has always maintained good relations with Muttahida Qaumi Movement and PPP, source said. “This was the reason behind his announcement of support to MQM in 2008 and now PPP in 2015 local bodies’ polls”, a teacher associated with Madrassah said, recalling that when the MQM chief landed in hot waters for his condolence at the death of Sahibzadi Nasir Begum – wife of the chief of Jamaat-e- Ahmadiyya Mirza Masroor Ahmad, this was Mufti Naeem who issued a Fatwa in favor of MQM chief in July 2011.

Though many from his school of thought believed that the MQM chief Altaf Hussain had committed major sin by praying for a Qadianis, Mufti Naeem in his edict said MQM chief had done so in good faith and the same was not tantamount to belief of considering Qadiani as Muslims.

Mufti Naeem is also alleged of striking a secret deal between the MQM and owners of the Ali Enterprises, the garment factory which was put down to ashes with 258 people burnt alive. However, Naeem strongly rejects the allegations.

Though leaders of PPP have called it an achievement due to huge presence of the seminary’s students in Site Town, Wakeel Rehman, a senior reporter covering religious institutions and parties, downplays the importance of the support while citing some reasons.

“Religiously and academically the students and his religious followers follow Mufti Naeem but they pay least or no heeds to his political advices” said Rehman, adding the students have always supported JUI-F.

Published in The Frontier Post