Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) marks 18th March as their foundation day or ‘Youm-e-Tasees’. The urban political party has had a controversial run since it made it onto the mainstream political scene in Pakistan. From braving military operations to sweeping Local Bodies elections, MQM has been at the center of Pakistan’s political affairs since its inception. Commanded by party chief Altaf Hussain, under whose supervision the Rabita Committee (also known as Central Coordination Committee) formulates political strategies, MQM has faced a host of controversies till date.
The All Pakistan Mohajir Student Organization, a political student organization, launches into Mohajir Quami Movement (MQM).
MQM becomes a force to be reckoned with after winning the local municipal elections with a thumping majority.
Traditional rivals, MQM and PPP enter into a formal alliance by forming a coalition government in Sindh. MQM agrees to be part of the PPP-led administration after the former gains a massive foothold in urban areas of Sindh.
1989 and 1990
MQM and PPP suffer a setback in their relations following a spate of violent incidences, linked ethnically. As the PPP government is overthrown, Altaf Hussain’s party decides to join forces with the Nawaz Sharif-led Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI). The IJI was openly considered a tool of the military establishment which needed to overthrow Bhutto’s government and set up a pliant setup instead. In the 1990 elections, MQM successfully becomes the third most popular political party in the country, behind the PPP and PML respectively.
In January, MQM chief Altaf Hussain departs for London, citing medical reasons for his leave. In June, a massive ‘Operation CLeanup’ is launched against MQM in Karachi. The intent behind the operation was to rid the city of terrorism but MQM was selectively targeted. The Party’s political offices were shut down as scores of its workers were killed in extra judicial murders and shootouts.
In October, MQM decides to boycott national polls but participated in provincial elections and secured a sweeping victory in areas where the party had a strong foothold. Once again, an operation was launched by the Benazir Bhutto government against MQM to quell the party’s militant activities in mostly Karachi.
The government of Benazir Bhutto again collapses, in the wake of scores of MQM workers being killed extra judicially. MQM forms a strong coalition government with Nawaz Sharif in the next polls, who secures a consolidating two-thirds majority in both Houses of the Parliament.
Hakeem Syed, a renowned philanthropist is murdered and once again, MQM is blamed for the violence. The MQM-PML(N) marriage of convenience comes to an end. In the same year, General Musharraf overthrows Nawaz Sharif’s government after a row involving Kargil and an alleged hijacking episode involving the army chief.
In October, MQM secures 17 seats in the National Assembly and decides to support General Pervez Musharraf and form government with the Musharraf-backed Pakistan Muslim league (Q).
When Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry’s rebellion against the Musharraf regime lands in Karachi, a day of ensuing violence erupts in the metropolitan city as political parties open fire, killing scores of each others workers. All political parties announce a boycott of MQM and blame them for the tragic deaths.
MQM wins big in the National Assembly following boycotts by Jamaat-e-Islami. Again, an alliance is formed with Pakistan Peoples Party to distribute power mostly in Sindh. During the PPP’s five years of power, constant clashes with outlawed Peoples Aman Committee (PAC) in Lyari takes place.
MQM sweeps polls in most of Karachi except for NA-250 from where Dr.Arif Alvi alleged rigging on behalf of MQM. PTI’s protests and demonstrations across the city irk MQM chief who issues harsh statements against the emerging political party.
In June, Scotland Yard apprehend Altaf Hussain in London in a money laundering case, connecting to the Imran Farooq murder case.
Currently, MQM is embroiled in a host of controversies and is undergoing a severe crisis. After being out of government, MQM has been involved in an ugly brawl with the armed forces of Pakistan, mostly Sindh Rangers. After a raid conducted on the party’s political headquarters Nine Zero, the situation has worsened with Altaf Hussain issuing harsh statements against Pakistan army and rangers.