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Muttahida Qaumi Movement. (Urdu: متحدہ قومی موومنٹ, English: United National Movement) generally known as MQM, is third largest political party and the largest liberal political party of Pakistan.[1]. It is generally known as a party which holds immense mobilizing potential in province of Sindh.[2] The student organization, All Pakistan Muhajir Student Organization (APMSO), was founded in 1978 by Altaf Hussain which subsequently gave birth to the Muhajir Quami Movement in 1984.[3] Initially founded on quasi-socialist lines, the organization now maintains liberal, progressive and secular stances on many political and social issues.

From 1992 to 1999, the MQM was the alleged target of the Pakistan Army's Operation Cleanup leaving hundreds of civilians dead[4][5].

In 1997, MQM officially removed the term Muhajir from its name, and replaced it with Muttahida (United)

The MQM is one of few socially liberal political parties in Pakistan and organized the largest rallies in Pakistan in protest of the actions of al-Qaeda on September 11, 2001 demonstrating sympathy with the victims of the terrorist attacks.



Muhajirs (English: immigrants) were the Urdu-speaking Muslims who struggled for the freedom of Pakistan and subsequently migrated to newly independent country in 1947. Most of the Muhajirs settled in Karachi as it was the capital of Pakistan. Karachi was then home to very diverse set of ethnicities including Urdu and Gujrati speaking (Memons, Bohras and Ismailis) Muslim immigrants, Punjabis , Pashtuns, Sindhis, Seraikis, Balochis, Brahuis and migrants from several South Asian countries. It was this very ethnic rivalry that led to Muhajir political mobilizaton, which was further provoked by stagnant economy and tales of Biharis in Bangladesh concentration camps.[6]


The first political organization of Muhajirs, called All Pakistan Muhajir Student Organization (APMSO), was founded in 1978 by Altaf Hussain, a former Pharmacy student of University of Karachi, which later evolved into Muhajir Qaumi Movement in 1984.[3] APMSO, earliest political organization of Muhajirs, was launched to protect Muhajirs who perceived themselves as the victims of discrimination and repression by the quota system that gave weight age to ethnicity for admissions in educational institutions and employment in civil services.[7][8] The student movement transformed into a political party called Muhajir Qaumi Movement in 1984 which later removed the term Muhajir officially from its name, and replaced it with Muttahida (English: "United")on July 26, 1997.[9]

Late 1986 - 1990

In its early years, MQM was regarded as a phenomenon more than as a party due to its massive local support gained by ethnic and social factors. MQM drew enormous crowds, the epitome of which was the rally of August 8, 1986 at Nishtar Park, Karachi.[10] Three years into existence, MQM won November 1987 local body elections in Karachi and several other urban centers of Sindh.[3][10] Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) won the general elections of 1988 and formed a coalition government in the Sindh province with the help of MQM, which then had larger mandate in urban Sindh in comparison to PPP whose majority of support came from rural areas on Sindh. A 59-point agreement, called Karachi Accord, was signed which included statements about protection of democratic system and political rights, urban development goals, and creating objective criteria for admission to universities and colleges etc. Within few months of agreement, differences surfaced and MQM ministers in Sindh cabinet resigned for not implementing the agreement.[4] Thus, the alliance broke up in October 1989 when MQM joined hands with PPP's opponents.[3]. During these times MQM made mark not only for violence and intimidation of political opponents, but also for public benefit initiatives.[11]. Khidmat-e-Khalq Committee, a social welfare initiative, was founded in 1978 which later transformed into Khidmat-e-Khalq Foundation in 1998.[12]

1990 - 1999

In October 1990 elections, MQM emerged as the third strongest party in the country. This time, it made its alliance with Pakistan Muslim League (PML) to establish provincial government in Sindh whereas PML formed the federal government.

During these times, a small factions of MQM separated itself from main body of party and formed MQM Haqiqi (English: Real MQM). It is generally believed that MQM Haqiqi was purpose-built to weaken MQM and was supported by successive federal governments and military. In years to come, federal governments switched between forming alliance with MQM and fighting against it to establish greater control over Karachi.[6]

The political violence that started in 1990 gradually gained momentum in 1992 and military was called in by the provincial government. The federal government responded with mass arrests and initiated a widespread military "Operation Clean-up" in Karachi to seize unauthorized arms.[10] This operation began in June 1992 and, by objective, sought to eliminate all terrorists irrespective of their political affiliation. MQM perceived this operation as an attempt to wipe out the party altogether.[3] Political violence erupted while MQM organized protests and strikes.[3] The lawlessness prevailed in this largest metropolitan city of Pakistan and president dissolved the national assembly.

MQM boycotted the subsequent 1993 general elections claiming organized military intimidation but participated in provincial elections. MQM secured 27 seats in provincial assembly, in comparison to its political rival PPP which won 56 seats. Thus PPP formed both the provincial and federal government.[13] Whereas, MQM Haqiqi failed to gain any seats at federal or provincial level.[3]

During 1992 violence, Altaf Hussain, left the country when a warrant was issued for him in connection with a murder.[14] Since then, party is being run on autopilot by Hussain from London.[1][6]. In 1997, MQM boycotted the general elections and officially changed the previously maintained name 'Muhajir' to 'Mutahida'(English: "United").[10]

2000 - Present

In 2001, MQM boycotted the local body elections but in 2002 general elections, MQM won 17 out of 272 seats in national assembly.[15] After winning 2001 municipal elections, MQM concentrated on its local government wing Haq Parast and introduced highly educated and fresh faces.[10] On International front, the MQM was one of few socially liberal political parties in Pakistan and organized the largest rallies in Pakistan in protest of the actions of Al-Qaeda on September 11, 2001 demonstrating sympathy with the victims of the terrorist attacks.

Party Structure

The party is led by Altaf Hussain under whose supervision, members of the Rabita Committee formulates political general stances.

Criminal allegations

MQM has been a focus of numerous terrorism allegations. Major criticisms emerged during the political violence of 1990 and upon the incident of May 12 and April 9, 2008 in Karachi. In mid 1980s, the organization was associated with extortion, gun smuggling and South African crime networks. Despite the allegations of terrorism, political opposition and Operation Cleanup, MQM survived and continued to appeal those who believed in its roots.[10]

Political violence of 1991

In the mid-1990s, the MQM was heavily involved in the widespread political violence that wracked Pakistan's southern Sindh province, particularly Karachi, the port city that is the country's commercial capital. MQM militants fought government forces, breakaway MQM factions, and militants from other ethnic-based movements. In the mid-1990s, the U.S. State Department, Amnesty International, and others accused the MQM and a rival faction, MQM Haqiqi, of summary killings, torture, and other abuses. The MQM-A routinely denied involvement in violence.[16]

The MQM along with its other factions also have been accused of trying to intimidate journalists. In one of the most flagrant cases, in 1990 MQM leader Hussain publicly threatened the editor of the monthly NEWSLINE magazine after he published an article on the MQM's alleged use of torture against dissident members (U.S. DOS Feb 1991). The following year, a prominent journalist, Zafar Abbas, was severely beaten in Karachi in an attack that was widely blamed on MQM leaders angered over articles by Abbas describing the party's factions. The same year, MQM activists assaulted scores of vendors selling DAWN, Pakistan's largest English-language newspaper, and other periodicals owned by Herald Publications (U.S. DOS Feb 1992).[16] The MQM has also frequently called strikes in Karachi and other cities in Sindh province and used killings and other violence to keep shops closed and people off the streets. During strikes, MQM-A activists have ransacked businesses that remained open and attacked motorists and pedestrians who ventured outside (U.S. DOS Feb 1996; Jane's 14 Feb 2003).[16]

The MQM allegedly raises funds through extortion, narcotics smuggling, and other criminal activities. In addition, Mohajirs in Pakistan and overseas provide funds to the MQM through charitable foundations (Jane's 14 Feb 2003).[16]

From 1992 to 1999, the MQM was the target of the Pakistan Army's Operation Cleanup leaving hundreds of civilians dead[4][5].Torture cells allegedly maintained by MQM were discovered in 1992. These cells were allegedly used to torture the abducted members of MQM-Haqiqi and other political rivals.[3].

Jinnahpur controversy

It was during Operation Cleanup when MQM was blamed of being anti Pakistan and a separatist movement for planning of Jinnahpur. However, later the few senior army officers at the time confessed that JinnahPur was "nothing but a drama" [17] against MQM for the military operation and there was no map of Jinnahpur.[18]

The IJI government led by Nawaz Sharif completely denied Jinnahpur.[19] In Pakistan on "October 19 newspapers carry ISPR press release, conveying Army’s denial of the knowledge of the Jinnahpur plan. The ISPR, the public relations arm of the Pakistan Army said "The Army had no evidence concerning the so-called Jinnahpur plan, it is clarified that the newspaper story in question is baseless. The Army has neither handed over to the government any document or map as reported, not is it in possession of any evidence concerning the so-called ‘Jinnahpur’ plan. It is also factually wrong that the matter was discussed at any meeting of the corps commander.”[19] Asif Zardari who is now President of Pakistan is said to have "said in a court premises in Karachi that the Jinnahpur scandal was created to malign the MQM."[19]

It may also he noted that Director General Rangers Safdar Ali Khan and corpse commander Karachi General Nasir Akhtar at the time, still argue that Jinnah Pur maps were indeed recovered but such reports were refuted under pressure of political leadership.[20]

May 12, 2007 incident

MQM and its leadership in UK were blamed of planning carnage which left 42 dead in May 12 incident.[1][7] In March 2007, President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf dismissed Chief Justice of Supreme Court, Iftikhar Chaudhry on allegations of misconduct and misuse of authority.[21] This started the lawyers' movement throughout Pakistan and May 12 Karachi visit of suspended chief justice was part of these countrywide protests. Opposition parties alleged that MQM called its supporters out on streets to defend that decision of president and prevent chief justice from leaving Karachi airport.[1]

Leadership among NRO beneficiaries

On Nov 22, 2009, Pakistan government released the limited list of beneficiaries of notorious legal act called National Reconciliation Ordinance which granted amnesty to politicians, political workers and bureaucrats who were accused of corruption, embezzlement, money-laundering, murder and terrorism between 1 January 1986 and October 12, 1999, the time between two Martial Laws. Two most significant personalities of MQM occupied the first two slots on the list. According to the list, Altaf Hussain had the highest number of cases withdrawn against him - 72, with 31 on murder and 11 on murder attempts. MQM's leader in national assembly, Farooq Sattar had the second highest number of cases withdrawn - 23 , including five on charges of murder and four on attempt to murder.[22]


US government, in a 1998 report, declared MQM and its opponents as a 'cause of much of the violence' in Karachi. Allegations of fostering the criminal elements and generating income through extortion and racketeering were also made in this report.[23]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Lawson, Alastair (2007-05-16). "Running Pakistan's biggest city - from London". BBC News, London. Retrieved 2009-08-03. 
  2. ^ Mitra, Subrata Kumar; Mike Enskat, Clemens Spiess (2004). Political parties in South Asia (illustrated ed.). Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 366. ISBN 0275968324. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Pakistan: Human rights crisis in Karachi". Amnesty International. 1996-02-01. Retrieved 2009-07-26. 
  4. ^ a b c Haq, Farhat (1999-11-01). "Rise of the MQM in Pakistan: Politics of Ethnic Mobilization". Asian Survey (University of California Press) 35 (11): 990–1004. 
  5. ^ a b Ethnicity and State Power in Pakistan: The Karachi Crisis, Moonis Ahmar, Asian Survey, Vol. 36, No. 10 (Oct., 1996), pp. 1031-1048, Published by: University of California Press
  6. ^ a b c Cohen, Stephen P. (2004). The idea of Pakisan (illustrated ed.). Brookings Institution Press. pp. 382. ISBN 0815715021. Retrieved 2009-07-30. 
  7. ^ a b Walsh, Declan; Matthew Taylor (2007-06-02). "The Karachi ruling party 'run like the mafia' from an office block in London". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-08-02. 
  8. ^ Kronstadt, K. Alan (2008-01-24). "Pakistan’s Scheduled 2008 Election: Background". Congressional Research Service, Govt. of USA. Retrieved 2009-07-28. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b c d e f Peshimam, Gibran (2009-03-18). "25 years of MQM: a critical analysis". The News. Retrieved 2009-08-04. 
  11. ^ Lyon, Peter (2008). Conflict Between India and Pakistan: An Encyclopedia (illustrated ed.). ABC-CLIO. pp. 277. ISBN 1576077128. Retrieved 2009-08-03. 
  12. ^ "This is KKF Website". Retrieved 2009-08-03. 
  13. ^ Ford, Jonathan (1995-07-13). "Fighting Benazir by fax from Mill Hill". The Independent. Retrieved 2009-08-06. 
  14. ^ "Mysterious world of a movement in exile". The Independent. 15 November 2007. Retrieved 2009-06-23. 
  15. ^ "Detailed Position of Political Parties / Alliances In National Assembly General Elections - 2002". Election Commission of Pakistan. Retrieved 2009-08-04. 
  16. ^ a b c d "UNHCR". United States Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. 2004-02-09. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Truth in allegations of Jinnahpur uncovered". Geo News. 2009-08-24. Retrieved 23 November 2009. 
  19. ^ a b c Abbasi, Ansar (2009-09-03). "Where PPP, PML-N and MQM stood on Jinnahpur in 1992". The News. Retrieved 23 November 2009. 
  20. ^ "Asif admits Jinnah Pur incident during press conference". SANA News. 2009-08-27. Retrieved 23 November 2009. 
  21. ^ Masood, Salman (2007-03-15). "Furor over Musharraf's suspension of Pakistan's chief justice". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-05. 
  22. ^ Wasim, Amir (2009-11-22). "NRO list out, 34 politicians among 8,000 beneficiaries". DAWN News. Retrieved 2009-11-23. 
  23. ^ "1998 - Human Rights Report - Pakistan". U.S. Department of State. 1999-02-26. Retrieved 2009-07-28. 

External links

Official Websites
MQM Projects

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