Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leader Farooq Sattar and other supporters of the party paid a visit to the ‘Martyrs’ Monument’ in the Azizabad Area in a ground close to the party’s sealed headquarters in Karachi on Saturday. The MQM-P was to stage a rally to visit the monument, but changed tack at the last minute, with Sattar alleging that the party was not granted permission by the administration to march to the Yadgar-i-Shuhada at Jinnah Ground.
Instead, Sattar said he and members of the party’s Rabita Committee would visit the monument in the afternoon, a move for which permission had been accorded, the party chief announced at a press conference outside his residence this morning. Sattar had said the party had asked its supporters not to show up for the march after being denied permission, however, ‘if they end up coming nevertheless, it is [because of] their own respect for the martyrs’. ‘The government and administration should have made these arrangements… [they] should have given us our right to use our freedom, which we are not being given,’ he said while speaking outside MQM-P’s office in Bahadurabad.
Before leaving for the monument, the party held a consultative meeting of the Rabita Committee at its Bahadurabad office. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Sattar said they had applied for permission for the march, but the administration refused, citing ‘threats to our lives’. Scenes of the Yadgar-i-Shuhada show a large crowd of supporters turned up to pay their respects.
Since MQM founder Altaf Hussain’s incendiary Aug 22, 2016 speech, the party’s Nine Zero headquarters and its public secretariat at Khurshid Memorial Complex in Azizabad have been sealed off and the MQM-P, or those associated with Altaf-led MQM-London, have not been allowed to visit the monument known as Yadgar-i-Shuhada, Dawn reported. While the ‘powers that be’ want the MQM-P to end its Mohajir politics and merge itself with the Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) by forming a new party, Dr Sattar’s decision to stage the rally towards the monument to pay tribute to those who lost their lives while ‘struggling for the Mohajir cause’ was being seen as a clear act of defiance.
However, police had on Saturday morning started sealing all the roads leading to Yadgar-i-Shuhada. The main route from Ayesha Manzil to Mukka Chowk was also sealed using containers and barricades. A large contingent of police was deployed in the area around the monument, and Rangers personnel patrolled the roads to thwart any untoward situation. In a video statement posted on his Twitter account on Friday, Dr Sattar had told his party’s workers and ‘Haq Parast’ people that his party would march from Ayesha Manzil to the ‘Martyrs’ Monument’ on Saturday at 3pm. ‘The MQM will never forget the sacrifices of our martyrs,’ he said.