Whether by itself or with a little ‘help’, Haqiqi’s back

Posted: September 12, 2015 in Published in, The News
Tags: , ,

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by Zia Ur Rehman

September 9, 2015

http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-4-339000-Whether-by-itself-or-with-a-little-help-Haqiqis-back

Karachi

Passing through a turbulent phase because of the law enforcement agencies’ ongoing crackdown in Karachi and the legal cases against its chief in London, more bad news for the Muttahida Qaumi Movement is its rival party, the Mohajir Qaumi Movement-Haqiqi, staging a comeback in the latter’s lost territories in Karachi.

The MQM has been accusing the law enforcement agencies of not only backing Haqiqi, but even escorting its cadres to these areas.

MQM central leader Dr Farooq Sattar alleged that his party was being stopped from playing its political role and conspiracies were being hatched to “hand over” Karachi to its rival forces.

“This was done in 1992 to crush the MQM, but the people of Karachi had rejected terrorists and continued supporting the party and its chief Altaf Hussain. This will remain unchanged,” Farooq said at a press conference.

However, in recent visits to Landhi, once the Haqiqi’s headquarters, The News witnessed a different situation on the ground.

There is a history of violent rivalry between the two Mohajir parties spanning nearly 23 years and Landhi has remained a “no-go area” for almost a decade for each side.

Forced displacement 

In the 1990s, Afaq Ahmed and Aamir Khan, who were the MQM’s joint secretaries at that time, along with other leaders including Iqbal Qureshi, Younas Khan and Naeem Hashmat parted ways with the party and formed their Haqiqi faction.

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The faction gained strength when an army operation was launched against the MQM in June 1992 and the neighbourhoods of Landhi, Malir, Shah Faisal Colony, Lines Areas, and some pockets in Liaquatabad and New Karachi fell under its complete influence. Organisationally, the MQM had no presence in these areas and they became no-go areas for them until 2003.

Similarly, Haqiqi activists and supporters could not enter the areas that were under the MQM’s influence.

The Haqiqi cadres forcibly expelled MQM’s activists and supporters from their areas and occupied their houses and businesses. Those who were forced to leave relocated to Korangi, Liaquatabad, New Karachi, Orangi Town and Sujrani Town. Many residents also left these areas because of the violent clashes between the two sides.

Muhammad Arshad*, an activist of the MQM who lives in Landhi, is among those who say were forcibly evicted from their homes by the Haqiqi’s men.

“I still remember the midnight of June 18, 1992 when Haqiqi activists took over the MQM sector office [which was later converted into the Haqiqi’s central headquarters called the White House and the Baitul Hamza] and unit offices in Landhi,” he told The News. “Because many MQM activists were killed resisting them, the others went into hiding,” he added.

Arshad said he was forced to stay away from his home in Landhi for a year and move his family to New Karachi where their relatives lived.

Though there are no verifiable statistics available, Arshad and MQM leaders claimed that thousands of families had left Landhi and other Haqiqi-influenced areas and their properties were taken over by the rival faction’s men.

However, the MQM-H was unable to achieve electoral success in 11 years except once when it had won a seat each in the national and provincial assemblies contesting the polls in Landhi.

In the 2002 general elections, its candidates, Mahmood Qureshi and Younas Khan, had won the NA-255 and PS-122 constituencies respectively.

However, the situation changed in 2003 during the regime of military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

Analysts said after supporting Musharraf’s regime, the MQM, which was part of the federal and provincial government, used the state machinery to take control of the Haqiqi-dominated areas in the city.

The Karachi Building Control Authority, on the behest of the MQM, demolished the Baitul Hamza, the Haqiqi’s headquarter, and several of its key leaders, including Afaq Ahmed and Aamir Khan, were arrested in the following years.

After gaining control of the areas previously dominated by the MQM-H, this time, Haqiqi activists and their families were forced to leave. Afzal Hasan*, an MQM-H leader, said in the beginning, their activists mainly moved to different parts of Punjab. However, in 2008, they started shifting to Sherpao Colony, a Pashtun neighbourhood near Landhi.

“Haqiqi activists had personal ties with political leaders in the colony, who helped them in renting houses there,” said a former councillor of Sherpao Colony.

Hasan, who used to live in 36-B area of Landhi, said first he had moved his family to Khanewal, Punjab and in 2008, he shifted to Sherpao Colony.

His house and shop, he added, were occupied by MQM men and now the area is a no-go area for him and his family since 2003.

Haqiqi leaders Afaq Ahmed and Aamir Khan later developed differences while they were in prison, causing violent clashes between their supporters in Sherpao Colony.

A Quaidabad police station officer said there were two violent clashes between the two sides in which people were killed. Later, Aamir Khan and his colleagues rejoined the MQM in May 2011.

Return of Haqiqi 

Amid the law enforcement agencies’ ongoing operation, which the MQM claims is only aimed at targeting its activists, reports have emerged that Haqiqi activists are returning to some of their lost turfs including Landhi, Malir and Shah Faisal Colony.

The MQM-H leader, confirming these reports, said the party had told the authorities and the law enforcement agencies that its activists wanted to return to their homes in these neighbourhoods which had become no-go areas for them since 2003.

Sources in police and the two parties said several MQM-H activists had returned to Landhi. MQM-H activists have been seen staging rallies carrying national flags in Malir and Shah Faisal Colony.

Although no clashes between the two parties have been reported so far, residents and traders fear that it is just a matter of time before the rival sides return to their old ways.

An office-bearer of Babar Market traders association said the return of Haqiqi in Landhi and other areas was unlikely to affect the political situation there.

“They are trying to come back after 12 years. Most of their leaders have been killed, went into hiding or rejoined the MQM. Now they are in a weak position,” he added.

“Besides, the MQM has completed many development projects in Landhi including academic institutions, hospitals and parks.”

A law enforcement official dispelled the reports that the Haqiqi was being assisted in reclaiming their lost territories.

“Many activists of the MQM’s militant wing have been arrested in the crackdown and others have gone underground,” he said.

“This has allowed MQM-H cadres to return to their homes. If there are any clashes, the law enforcement agencies will take strict action against those responsible for them,” he added.

*Names changed for privacy

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The making of Haqiqi

In the 1990s, Afaq Ahmed and Aamir Khan, who were the MQM’s joint secretaries at that time, along with other leaders including Iqbal Qureshi, Younas Khan and Naeem Hashmat parted ways with the party and formed their Haqiqi faction.

Reaching its peak

The faction gained strength when an army operation was launched against the MQM in June 1992 and the

neighbourhoods of Landhi, Malir, Shah Faisal Colony, Lines Areas, and some pockets in Liaquatabad and New Karachi fell under its complete influence

The turning point

The situation changed in 2003 during the regime of military ruler Pervez Musharraf. After supporting Musharraf, the MQM, which was part of the federal and provincial government, used the state machinery to take control of the Haqiqi-dominated areas in the city

The fall of Baitul Hamza

The Karachi Building Control Authority, on the behest of the MQM, demolished the Baitul Hamza, the Haqiqi’s headquarter, and several of its key leaders, including Afaq Ahmed and Aamir Khan, were arrested in the following years.

The split

Haqiqi leaders Afaq Ahmed and Aamir Khan developed differences while they were in prison, causing violent clashes between their supporters in Sherpao Colony. In May 2011, Aamir Khan and his colleagues rejoined the MQM.

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