WASHINGTON: MQM chief Altaf Hussain has said that he would visit the United States in October to highlight the alleged human rights violations against political workers in Pakistan.
Addressing hundreds of his supporters outside the White House on Saturday afternoon, Mr Hussain also urged the US administration to send its observers to Pakistan to monitor the alleged continued violation of human rights in the country.
“The United States does not only send its observers but also its troops to other places, they should at least send their observers to Pakistan,” he said.
The MQM gathered hundreds of workers from across the United States in Washington this weekend for its 20th annual convention in the United States. Key MQM leaders like Farooq Sattar, Babar Ghauri and Zareen Majeed also attended the convention.
Mr Sattar, who spent 10 days in Washington and held several ‘important meetings’ here, said that State Department or White House officials were not among those he met.
Yet, what was supposed to be an MQM show, turned into a shouting match between its workers and those of the PTI, PML-N and PPP who were unhappy with the party’s decision to hold a protest outside the White House.
“We cannot allow them to defame Pakistan outside such a sensitive place,” said one of the counter-protesters, Khalid Tanvir. “We are not against political protests, but this is a domestic issue and it should be highlighted in Pakistan, not outside the White House.”
The MQM and its leaders disagreed with this suggestion. Mr Sattar said the MQM made “all possible efforts to resolve these issues at home” but when the government showed no inclination to “redress our grievances, we were forced to raise this issue here”.
Mr Ghauri, a former federal minister, said the MQM had not come to Washington to defame Pakistan or “hatch a conspiracy” against the government. “We want to make it clear that we will not support any unconstitutional move to topple the current government. We want it to complete its tenure,” he said.
“Extrajudicial killings, disappearances and torture are violations of international norms and laws as well,” said Ms Majeed. “The international community must play a role in stopping these violations.”
The MQM adopted several resolutions at the end of the convention, urging the government to consider dividing the country into 20 small provinces, immediately hold a census, and to take action against those responsible for extrajudicial killings and disappearances.
Addressing his supporters, Mr Hussain said the MQM was holding this rally “outside one of the world’s greatest symbols of democracy to underline the grave injustices being done to its workers”.
He alleged that Karachi had been under an undeclared martial law since 2013 and the operation that was designed to root out terrorism was only targeting one particular community.
Published in Dawn, July 25th, 2016