December 2004 News

Muttahida calls for APC on Kashmir

5 December 2004
The Dawn

Karachi: Addressing a huge public meeting at the Nishtar Park here on Sunday, Muttahida Qaumi Movement's founder Altaf Hussain called for convening an all-party conference for evolving a national consensus on Kashmir and other vital issues confronting the country. He also stressed the need for a code of conduct for political parties and said criticism should not degenerate into calling an opponent 'a traitor or a kafir'. He offered an olive branch to rival political parties and declared he would not respond to the criticism because it was now essential to put heads together and work out a strategy for national survival. Mr Hussain claimed that he was making a last attempt to save Pakistan, as activists chanted slogans of 'jiyae Altaf'. Mr Hussain advised Sindh Chief Minister Dr Arbab Rahim to undertake a visit to Rajhastan and develop relations with people across the border. Why can't this be done by a functionary of the Sindh government when Punjab chief minister was undertaking a similar visit to the Indian Punjab and was mixing with the people there and even offering prayers in Sikh temples, he said. Nobody, he added, questioned the patriotism of the Punjab chief minister. He deemanded that the Khokhrapar-Monabao route be opened as soon as possible. Otherwise, he said, the people of Sindh themselves would do it. Mr Hussain stressed that 'no greater Punjab plan would be acceptable and demanded that people of smaller provinces should be recognized and respected. He talked about the changed geo-strategic environment since 9-11 and said that India's importance had increased in recent months while the importance of Pakistan, which was frontline state in the international war on terrorism, had diminished lately. It was, therefore, necessary for all political forces to put their heads together. Stressing that his party stood for peace and amity, he reiterated his stand on the two-nation theory and said that he did not violate this concept. The Quaid-i- Azam advocated it but he himself later declared that a vast majority of Muslims had to stay back in India. It was demolished on the day the borders of Pakistan were closed for the Indian Muslims in 1953. The two- nation theory was negated again when Bangladesh emerged in 1972. He warned that the country would suffer if political and religious forces did not change their attitude and did not give up the politics of accusation and counter-accusations. He offered that as a first the Muttahida would not reply to accusations and directed workers of his party not to respond to accusations at any stage because the party believed in love and peace and wanted to follow the policy of 'live and let live.' He reiterated his proposal for a code of conduct for all political and religious parties in the interest of forming a culture of democracy and tolerance in the country. The theme of the public meeting was 'Peace and stability leads to progress and prosperity'. Rejecting the criticism from certain elements of his recent India visit and his proposal about the Line of Control (LoC). Mr Hussain said that he would welcome and withdraw his proposal if anybody came up with a better proposal. Earlier the deputy convener of the party Dr Farooq Sattar said that the Muttahida public meeting was a referendum and proved that the people of the city were against religious fundamentalism and wanted a secular and tolerant culture in the province. He said the meeting was also a reply to the MMA public meeting held at same venue last week in which only a few thousand people turnout. He claimed that the participation would be doubled when all coalition parties of the Sindh government would hold a public meeting. Chief Minister Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim said that the Muttahida rally proved that the people rejected the MMA. He said he was chief minister because of the support of Altaf Hussain who had always fought for the rights of Sindh while those who used a Sindh card never defended the rights of the province. The Secretary General of the PML Sindh, Imtiaz Shaikh, congratulated Altaf Hussain for holding such a big public meeting. Dev Das MNA, Abdul Khaliq Baloch, Nisar Panwar, Col (retd) Tahir Mashhadi and Badsha Khan delivered speeches in Sindhi, Balochi, Pashto and Punjabi languages.


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