LAHORE – Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain on Thursday expressed all-out support to Dr Tahirul Qadri’s ‘reforms before polls’ agenda and said elections should not be held unless flaws in the electoral system were removed and terrorism uprooted.“At present the integrity of the country is at stake. Pakistan’s flag cannot be hoisted in vast areas of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. I urge the army to stand by the people and stamp out terrorism. The MQM will fully back the initiative,” he said in a telephonic interview with TheNation.He said at a time when the country was facing so many challenges, elections could be delayed.Altaf called upon the Pakistan People’s Party to throw its weight behind Dr Qadri’s agenda in the larger national interest. In case it did not, the MQM would part ways with the PPP.“We are not haris or tenants of anyone. We are free to take our own decisions.” This is the first time that the MQM chief personally took up the cudgels for the Tehrik Minhajul Quran chairman and expressed willingness to pay the price for a cause.Elaborating, Altaf said the MQM would not compromise its ideology. “If they (PPP) disagree with us, we too cannot give up our ideology. We make alliances to promote our ideology. We can leave alliances, not our fundamentals,” implying that the ‘love-hate’ relationship between the two predominant forces of Sindh could come to an end anytime.If the coalition with the PPP comes to an end as a result of differences, so be it, said the MQM chief.Answering a question, he said he was for the change of system, no matter what the methodology.“The change of system is imperative for the survival of the country as the status quo can’t last long.”Highlighting the role of the army in the decision-making process, the MQM leader said the army must be consulted on all important national issues. There is not a single party, be it the PPP, the PML or JUI-F, that does not meet with the army leadership. But, he regretted, these parties do so secretly.In his opinion there is nothing wrong in meeting the army leadership publicly, in broad daylight. “Don’t hide behind curtains. Meet and consult the army leadership openly because it’s national army. They will never go against the country.”He said those meeting the army chief secretly are ‘hypocrites’.Altaf said just like a girl should let her parents know the boy she likes as her life partner, political leaders should consult the military leadership to take right decisions on all important national issues.Referring to Army Chief Gen Kayani’s meeting with the Chief Election Commissioner, he said if there was no role for the army in political matters, as some people argue, why the general was consulted at all.Then the Muttahida chief maintained nowhere in the ‘book of democracy’ had it been written that the army should be kept out of the loop. “Nothing can happen without army’s nod.”Substantiating his argument, he said the return home of Benazir Bhutto and Mr Nawaz Sharif from exile and the reinstatement of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had been done with the approval of the army.Responding to a question, Altaf said he was striving to change the system to rid the country of the feudal, capitalists and bring middle class people to the fore. If the elections were held in the prevailing situation, the same ‘thieves, dacoits and robbers’ would get elected.About the Karachi situation, he said it could ne normalised if political parties and the army worked jointly against terrorists. All forms of extremism should be stamped out, he emphasised.Underlining the need for strengthening the local bodies system, the MQM chief said the edifice of democracy would remain vulnerable and shaky unless the lowest tier of the government was reinforced.He lashed out at those critical of Dr Qadri’s plan to go for a long march on Islamabad and said there was no justification for anyone to oppose the programme.“Tell me who had not resorted to the long march? Had Benazir Bhutto not used the long march (to mount pressure on the rulers to get her demands met?) Had Qazi Husain Ahmed not staged a long march? Had the Chief Justice of Pakistan and lawyers not used the long march in support of their demands? the MQM chief asked.As for the demand that Dr Qadri should let the nation know who was going to finance his planned long march to Islamabad, Altaf said the questioners should first tell who had funded their marches in the past.He said there was no justification for anyone to ask Dr Qadri why he had returned to Pakistan at this juncture. “This is just like asking someone why he had converted to Islam after so long.”He was of the view that the state could be saved only by uprooting corruption from all walks of life.“Duplicitous democracy will not serve any purpose. Lands should be given to haris and the limits of landing holdings be set,” he said. Flawed political system and corruption always led to disintegration of states, not strengthening them.