Are Mustafa Kamal's days as the 'great Mohajir saviour' over?

Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan is expected to make a comeback
Oct 30, 2018
Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan, the MQM heavyweight who left Pakistan in November 2016 after serving as Sindh governor for over 14 years, is expected to make a comeback. Anees Advocate, the vice-chairperson of Mustafa Kamal’s Pak Sarzameen Party, met the former Sindh governor in Dubai two weeks ago. Both confirmed the meeting. Anees Advocate told SAMAA Digital that he had taken his party into confidence before the meeting. However, the sources suggest otherwise. “The PSP is not the MQM,” Anees said. “In our party, everybody has the right to meet anyone.” The PSP leader said that he met Dr Ebad to reinstate their relations. “No one can doubt his abilities, and we want to make the most of his experience,” Anees remarked. “I wish to see him in the PSP, and if he agrees I will convince my party to accept him too.” However, the circumstances seem a little dubious as Kamal has been very vocal about his dislike for Dr Ebad. He has called him an “extremely dishonourable man”, and even used to refer to him as ‘Rishwat-ul-Ebad’, who never did anything without asking for a bribe first. [caption id="attachment_1590547" align="alignnone" width="640"] When Mustafa Kamal and Anees Qaimkhani had announced their decision to launch a political party in Pakistan in March of last year, they had announced that the national flag would be the party’s flag.[/caption] Kamal accused Dr Ebad of maintaining contact with MQM founder Altaf Hussain even after his August 22, 2016 speech, in which he chanted slogans against Pakistan. Will Ebad’s return help the PSP? Mazhar Abbas, a senior analyst, believes the PSP has realised its mistake and this meeting with Ebad appears to be damage control. “Not only Mustafa Kamal, but the PSP as a political party has weakened after the elections,” Abbas said. However, he said that replacing Kamal is not a solution. There was a perception that Kamal was launched like Afaq Ahmed was introduced in the 90s and it hurt the PSP in the elections, Abbas added. Related: Mustafa Kamal hits back at Farooq Sattar “Ebad was a big name but his return to politics won’t have any big impact,” the analyst said, adding that the in urban areas parties are important not personalities. Waseem Aftab, another PSP leader, said that his party wants to serve the people. The decision to approach Ebad was to find a common ground to fix Sindh’s politics. However, he clarified that Anees Advocate didn’t discuss the possibility of forming a new party. The rise and fall of Kamal Mustafa Kamal left his Senate seat in 2013 after developing serious differences with Altaf Hussain. In March 2016, the former Karachi mayor returned after spending over 30 months in Dubai. He came with a mission to destroy the party he once defended. “This man has destroyed us,” Kamal said about Hussain. He then formed his own political party to ‘rescue the Mohajir community’. He received a warm welcome and managed to gather a dozen MQM leaders under his party’s umbrella in just a few days. After Hussain’s August 22 speech, the MQM collapsed and its leaders started running to seek shelter. Dr Farooq Sattar, MQM’s cleanest political face, jumped to the rescue. He said that the party is breaking all ties to its leaders in London and formed MQM-Pakistan. The rifts between the party leaders continued to weaken it. More MQM leaders pledged their allegiance to Kamal as speculation was rife that the establishment has decided to sideline the party and the PSP will be given a free run. [caption id="attachment_1590552" align="alignnone" width="640"] Dr Sattar and Kamal addressing a press conference together at Karachi Press Club in November 2017.[/caption] At one point in November 2017, it appeared that MQM-P will be merged with the PSP. Dr Sattar and Kamal even sat together to address a press conference at Karachi Press Club. However, the merger failed the very day next. Dr Farooq Sattar painted Kamal as an anti-Muhajir figure, who wanted Muhajirs to forget their identities. Still, Kamal thought he will comfortably take the MQM’s mandate home. In 2018, the PSP is two years old and the elections are just a few months away. Karachi walls are plastered with pictures of Kamal and Anis Qaimkhani, his deputy and Hussain’s former man of operations. Related: Doors of PSP closed for Farooq Sattar: Mustafa Kamal Kamal promises his party leaders that they will replace the MQM-P as the largest party in the rural Sindh. The election day came and the PSP couldn’t even win a single provincial or national assembly seat. Was Kamal really the right guy? After the PSP’s abysmal performance in the elections, a group within the party started questioning Kamal’s political strategy. A PSP insider, who doesn’t want to be named, told SAMAA Digital that some leaders in the PSP think that Kamal’s strategy to run the party was “flawed”. They blamed Kamal for party’s ‘embarrassing’ performance in the elections, he added. [caption id="attachment_1590577" align="alignnone" width="640"] Mustafa Kamal addressing a press conference in November 2017[/caption] The party worker believes that Kamal unnecessarily provoked the MQM support base. “You can’t expect people to forget a man who ruled the city for over 30 years from outside the country,” he said. His biggest mistake was to leave the Muhajir support base, said another PSP worker, adding that the PSP chairperson tried to act bigger than his image. Kamal’s future? Kamal has lost the elections but he is still the party’s chairperson. The PSP workers say that Kamal needs to revisit his strategy and control his temper. Kamal has an image of an angry man and he sometimes loses control of his emotions. His close aides, as well as other party leaders, are reluctant to publicly discuss what went wrong in the elections. “They are closely watching the situation and may go public with their reservations if Kamal doesn’t find a way to maintain a grip on his party,” said a former MQM office-bearer who joined the PSP in November 2017.    

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