KARACHI: Announcing the name of his ‘new party’ on Wednesday, former Karachi mayor Mustafa Kamal said the “Pak Sarzamin Party” will release its manifesto in the near future.
The manifesto is being drafted by those who are “most competent”, he said.
“It should be clear to you that those of us on this path are not here to distribute power, gain power, to steal power or to steal positions,” Kamal said, adding that he and his colleagues “curse such power, posts and privilege which cannot serve the people”.
“The people of Karachi are witness to the time we had the power to bring change,” he said, referring to his time as mayor of the metropolis, “And when the time came that those positions were just posts of power, we left.”
“The day we distanced ourselves from this sin, we became rich,” he said, gesturing to himself and colleague Anis Kaimkhani, while referring to their separation from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).
“The freedom of Kashmir is the first priority of the establishment… Which Pakistani doesn’t want freedom for Kashmir? If the establishment has the same agenda, does that mean Pakistanis will stop wanting it?” he asked.
‘Will not allow further polarisation’
Lamenting the fragmented condition of the population along ethnic and religious lines, he said, “We don’t want to divide people’s hearts further.”
“If you want to join us, you must first respect our political opponents,” he said. “We will not allow more polarisation or division with in the Pakistani society. This is our first principle.”
‘Party flag a cause for divide’
The party will propose a new party flag for the Election Commission of Pakistan, he said, but will “not even look at this flag”.
“We will not hand it to our workers. We will only raise the flag of Pakistan. What constitution can stop me from raising the Pakistani flag?” he asked.
“A party’s flag is where divide begins… Everyone, no matter what political party he belongs to, believes in our symbol,” he said, referring to the Pakistani flag he had raised as the party symbol with Anis Kaimkhani at his first press conference upon his return to Karachi.
“It will be our responsibility to respect those who believe in this flag.”
‘The common man is NAB’
Kamal said the biggest problem right now is that “we are not taking ownership of Pakistan” and called for a “purely devolved local government system”.
“Our system has not given anyone a sense of participation,” he said. “What are you going to do with new provinces? Today there are four, tomorrow there will be 20, but powers will not be devolved to the lowest level and people will not be empowered. A purely devolved local government system should be in place to achieve this,” Kamal said.
Citing the example of foreign countries “for which we line up to get visas” as places with purely devolved systems of government. “They make sure their locales have clean drinking water and security.”
“The common man is the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). Make the man on your street NAB. He will enforce accountability.”
Earlier this March, when Kamal returned to Pakistan, the MQM dissident unleashed a salvo of bombastic ‘revelations’ against party supremo Altaf Hussain, accusing him of deception, addressing workers while intoxicated and poor running of the MQM.
Since then, the former mayor of Karachi has pulled former MQM heavyweights Advocate Anis, Raza Haroon, Anis Kaimkhani, Dr Sagheer, Iftikhar Alam, Waseem Aftab into his party.
Advocate Anis and Raza Haroon both have slammed Altaf Hussain, saying the MQM chief is the reason behind party members jumping ship. However, the MQM has denied all allegations regarding the ‘minus-Altaf formula’ and claims its workers are being ‘forced to change loyalties’.
Kamal and his colleagues have not specifically denied these allegations or others that suggest the new party is being backed by ‘certain quarters’.
A number of senior MQM members left the country suddenly around the time Kamal returned to Karachi, causing speculation as to the reasons behind their seemingly abrupt departure.
While certain party members left before Kamal’s visit to Karachi, uncertainty persists regarding the reasons for the absences of other party members.