KARACHI: Altaf Hussain, the chief of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, has said that wrong policies and suppression of the voice of Baloch people have brought Balochistan to the verge of separation from the country.
“If we fail to find a solution we may lose Balochistan,” he said while addressing on phone a large gathering of women at the Bagh-i-Quaid on Sunday.
Mr Hussain mainly focused on issues of women and said the country could not be strengthened without empowering them.
About Balochistan, he said he had always raised the sensitive issue but no-one paid heed to it.
Referring to a recent move in the US Congress, he said the situation had worsened to an extent that resolutions were being tabled in parliaments of other countries for granting the right of self-determination to the Baloch people.
He said he had repeatedly asked the rulers to convene a conference on Balochistan, but “it appears to be already late because Baloch leaders have lost trust in the rulers of Pakistan”.
He urged the authorities concerned to give the people of Balochistan all their “legitimate rights”. “If no solution is found then,
God forbid, Balochistan may be lost,” he said.
The MQM chief said a new chapter had been written in the country’s political history with the women’s meeting.
Referring to recent rallies held at Bagh-i-Jinnah, he said that although other parties had made tall claims about massive shows of strength, the MQM had shown that only its women could face the opponents’ challenge.
He claimed that the gathering was the largest of its kind held anywhere in the world and ‘over a million’ women filled the Bagh-i-Jinnah, adjoining roads and the premises of the Mazar-i-Quaid.
He said the event itself was “a revolution” and claimed that all other parties would not be able to organise such a huge gathering even if they joined together to do so.
Mr Hussain said the MQM had brought women in the mainstream of national politics and had organised its first women’s meeting in 1988 and another in the Nishtar Park in 2005.
He said the MQM always raised its voice against injustices against women. The party forcefully raised its voice in favour of Shaista Almani, Dr Shazia and Dr Aafia Siddiqui .
The MQM chief demanded Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s release on humanitarian grounds.
He said there were areas in the country where women did not have the right to vote or contest elections.
He condemned customs like karo-kari, honour killing, vani and marriage with the Holy Quran and said incidents of gang rape, throwing acid on women, shaving their heads and cutting off their limbs were extremely shameful.
He said the MQM was against all evil customs, cruelties and injustices and wanted to emancipate women and restore their dignity.
He said the Women Protection Bill had been passed by parliament because of MQM’s efforts. The MQM also introduced legislations in the Sindh Assembly about honour killing and domestic violence.
Mr Hussain said that women should be given an equal share in every sphere of life.
He said the MQM’s manifesto was based on the last address of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) which clearly stated that all people were equal.
He called for abolition of feudal system and said educated people from the poor and middle classes should also be given the right to take part in politics.
He said the MQM wanted to end gender discrimination and give equal opportunities to women.
He also called for the recovery of all ‘missing’ persons, including 28 workers of the MQM.
The speech was followed by a fireworks display.
MQM’s decision to hold the women’s gathering at the place where the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl) and Difa-i-Pakistan Council had recently held their public meetings appeared to be aimed at showing that the party still had a firm
grip on the city’s politics.