KARACHI – Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Farooq Sattar announced on Thursday the party will stage hunger strike for the next four days against the media ban on party chief Altaf Hussain.
Addressing a press conference in Karachi on Thursday, party’s senior deputy convener said a 12-hour hunger strike outside Karachi Press Club will begin on Friday and last till Monday.
The announcement comes a day after MQM’s Rabita Committee asked the nation to stock up food at their homes and take precautions while going out, saying “next 15 days were very crucial” as “something big” was likely to take place.
“After this hunger strike and protests, we will think about the option of staging sit-ins,” Sattar added while speaking at the Khursheed Begum Secretariat.
The MQM leader said it had been six months since the media ban on Altaf was imposed, but a decision was not taken that for how long the ban would remain in place. The restriction on party chief should be removed under Article 19 of the constitution, he said.
According to a Lahore High Court order released in September last year, there is a complete blackout on the coverage of Altaf Hussain in the media after his alleged statements against the state institutions.
Taking aim at Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Sattar said it was their sit-in, which barred the Chinese president from coming to Pakistan. If the “MQM staged a sit in, then [even] the president of the country will not be able to step out from his home,” added Sattar.
However, Sattar downplayed Altaf Hussain’s ‘prediction’ which termed the next 15 days as crucial, saying there was no need to worry and that the MQM chief had said so in a “broader context.”
“Altaf Hussain did not issue a statement to spread panic or fear; he wanted to alert public to be prepared for all kinds of situation,” the MQM leader said.
On February 16, Altaf Hussain retrieved his passport after the cancellation of bail in the money laundering case against him. London Metropolitan police, however, had clarified investigation against the party chief continued.
Meanwhile, PTI’s Karachi chapter condemned the statement given by MQM chief, saying it “should have led to criminal charges for causing mischief as there are limits to free speech and expression”.
PTI leader Ali Zaidi said it was sad that political leadership was silent over the issue. “How can any individual or group in this country make such public statements, which cause fear, apprehension, panic and terror among the public? Why, no stern response from both our civilian and military leadership?” Zaidi asked.