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Farooq Sattar is authorised to grant Senate election tickets to MQM-P members: ECP

10 February, 2018

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ISLAMABAD/KARACHI: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) ruled on Friday that only Farooq Sattar was authorised to grant Senate election tickets to Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) members.

“Nominating candidates for Senate elections is the sole right of any party’s leader, and since the MQM-P is registered in Farooq Sattar’s name, handing out party tickets will be his call,” the ECP said in response to a letter written by Rabita Committee stating that Sattar will not be given the authority to extend tickets for the election since powers to issue tickets rest with Rabita Committee, not the party chief.

Sattar told media outside his residence in PIB colony that while everyone had the right to disagree, rivals might use this situation to their advantage. He said that the person leading a party is held responsible for any loopholes. “The head of a party should have powers in proportion to his or her responsibilities,” he said, and added, “No one should be allowed to cast doubts on my intention.”

The party leadership has been expressing its concerns ever since Dr Sattar appointed Tessori deputy convener of the party. His presence is reportedly creating divisions and groupings within the party, which is in turn causing great difficulty for the MQM-Pakistan chief.

Party leader Faisal Sabzwari, in a chat with reporters on Friday, said under the party constitution, neither the convener nor any other person had the right to hand out party tickets. He said this right was the sole privilege of the Rabita Committee, which was transferring it to deputy-convener Siddiqui. The move, however, failed when the ECP later in the day ruled in Sattar’s favour.

When asked about the decision to write letter to the ECP, Sabzwari responded, “This decision was taken when we were unable to meet Farooq Bhai (brother) at his residence last night.” He said the Rabita Committee and two of its delegations went to see their estranged leader, but he did not once visit their office in Bahadurabad as a show of goodwill.

He also said that party workers were at a failure to comprehend why Kamran Tessori was so important to Sattar that he had gone to such lengths to secure a Senate ticket for him.

“We do not oppose Farooq Sattar’s wishes, but if his wish is in direct conflict with the party’s principles, then we will be unable to accept,” he said.

Sabzwari also questioned the quality and the source of advice Sattar was receiving, adding that he and others wanted to reconcile but one-sided measures never worked.

Apparently hinting at implementing the minus-one formula, MQM leader Faisal Subzwari told reporters after the meeting that the party was not against Dr Sattar, but “we will not accept” his directive if it was in direct conflict with the party’s principles.

Announcing that the party had delegated the power to give tickets to Dr Siddiqui, he said it was beyond anyone’s understanding as to why Dr Sattar was giving so much importance to jeweller-turned-politician Kamran Tessori.

Mr Tessori was among many candidates whose Senate nomination form was filed by the Dr Sattar-led group.

ECP spokesperson Haroon Shinwari told Dawn in Islamabad that the returning officer (RO) would take a decision on the issue at the time of scrutiny of nomination papers. The RO would decide the matter in the light of the Elections Act, 2017, Election Rules, 2017 and the constitution of the political party concerned, he added.

According to Section 201 (1)(f)(iii, iv and v) of the Elections Act, a political party shall formulate its constitution, by whatever name called, which shall include selection or nomination of party candidates for election to public offices and legislative bodies; resolution of disputes between members and political party, including issues relating to suspension and expulsion of members; and method and manner of amendments in the constitution of the political party.

Irked by the developments, Dr Sattar, who had on Thursday promised to go to the Bahadurabad headquarters at 6pm on Friday to hold a meeting there to hammer out differences, held consultations with party MNAs and MPAs at his house till late in the night and informed them about the prevailing situation.

However, not all parliamentarians belonging to the MQM were in attendance. Sources said that those present in the meeting gave Dr Sattar the mandate to nominate whosoever he wanted to for the Senate seats.

Earlier, in view of the Bahadurabad camp’s claim that they enjoyed the support of “90 per cent” members of the coordination committee, Dr Sattar played what many considered as his trump card when he told the media that those coordination committee members who remained government employees had no right to vote and from now on they would no longer be part of the MQM’s top decision-making body.

At least nine of the over four dozen members of the coordination committee are said to be government employees and all of them are supporting the Bahadurabad camp.

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