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Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM)
Mothaidda Quami Movement (MQM)
Mohajir Quami Movement [MQM]
Khidmat-e-Khalq Foundation (KKF)

The Muttahidda [Mothaidda] Quami Movement (MQM), formerly known as the Mohajir Quami Movement, is a political group which represents the Urdu-speaking immigrant urban Mohajir population which migrated from India at the time the creation of Pakistan in 1947). The Mohajir Quami Movement [MQM] came into being on March 18, 1984 as the "All Pakistan Mohajir Students Organisation" (APMSO) but politically it was activated in 1986. The Head Office of MQM -- generally known as "Nine Zero" -- is in Karachi. Khidmat-e-Khalq Foundation (KKF) is a charitable organisation affiliated with MQM.

The grip of the landed oligarchy in the Sindh over the rural population continued to be a main cause of the growth of inequality in Pakistan. MQM wants to rid the country of the medieval feudal system, and to rid Sindh from the domination of Punjab. Pakistan's Mohajir migrants remain marginalized, even though they are the principal speakers of Urdu, the national language. Karachi, the only industrialised port city in Pakistan, is bursting at the seams with a growing population, and public services have broken down. Sindhi nationalists are vehemently opposed to those Mohajirs who came after the first wave of migration following Partition. The Sindhis feel that the Mohajirs who came after this should be deprived of their citizenship.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Altaf (MQM-A) has been widely accused of human rights abuses since its founding two decades ago. It claims to represent Mohajirs- Urdu-speaking Muslims who fled to Pakistan from India after the 1947 partition of the subcontinent, and their descendants. In the mid-1990s, the MQM-A was heavily involved in the widespread political violence that wracked Pakistan's southern Sindh province, particularly Karachi, the port city that is the country's commercial capital. MQM-A militants fought government forces, breakaway MQM factions, and militants from other ethnic-based movements. In the mid-1990s, the U.S. State Department, Amnesty International, and others accused the MQM-A and a rival faction of summary killings, torture, and other abuses (see, e.g., AI 1 Feb 1996; U.S. DOS Feb 1996). The MQM-A routinely denied involvement in violence.

The MQM-A and other factions have been accused of trying to intimidate journalists. In one of the most flagrant cases, in 1990 MQM leader Hussein publicly threatened the editor of the monthly NEWSLINE magazine after he published an article on the MQM's alleged use of torture against dissident members (U.S. DOS Feb 1991). The following year, a prominent journalist, Zafar Abbas, was severely beaten in Karachi in an attack that was widely blamed on MQM leaders angered over articles by Abbas describing the party's factionalization. The same year, MQM activists assaulted scores of vendors selling DAWN, Pakistan's largest English-language newspaper, and other periodicals owned by Herald Publications (U.S. DOS Feb 1992).

The MQM-A has also frequently called strikes in Karachi and other cities in Sindh province and used killings and other violence to keep shops closed and people off the streets. During strikes, MQM-A activists have ransacked businesses that remained open and attacked motorists and pedestrians who ventured outside (U.S. DOS Feb 1996; Jane's 14 Feb 2003). The MQM-A allegedly raises funds through extortion, narcotics smuggling, and other criminal activities. In addition, Mohajirs in Pakistan and overseas provide funds to the MQM-A through charitable foundations (Jane's 14 Feb 2003).

In 1992, a breakway MQM faction, led by Afaq Ahmed and Aamir Khan, launched the MQM Haqiqi (MQM-H), literally the "real" MQM. Many Pakistani observers alleged that the MQM-H was supported by the government of Pakistan to weaken the main MQM led by Altaf Hussein, which became known as the MQM-A (Jane's 14 Feb 2003). Several smaller MQM factions also emerged, although most of the subsequent intra-group violence involved the MQM-A and the MQM-H (AI 1 Feb 1996; U.S. DOS Feb 1999; Jane's 14 Feb 2003). MQM-A leader Hussein fled in 1992 to Britain, where he received asylum in 1999 (Jane's 14 Feb 2003).

While the multifaceted nature of the violence in Sindh province in the 1980s and 1990s at times made it difficult to pinpoint specific abuses by the MQM-A, the group routinely was implicated in rights abuses. In 1992 after the Sindh government called in the army to crack down on armed groups in the province, facilities were discovered that allegedly were used by the MQM-A to torture and at times kill dissident members and activists from rival groups.

In response to chronic unrest in Sindh Province, in June 1992 the army was called in to assist police in restoring law and order. In November 1994, the army was withdrawn from law enforcement duties in Sindh, but the paramilitary Rangers were reinforced and specially trained police inducted. in 1995 and 1996, hundreds of people were killed by Rangers and police, including dozens of members of the Muttahida Quami Movement. In 1996, Amnesty International said that the PPP and other parties were reporting that some of their activists had been tortured and killed by the MQM-A (AI 1 Feb 1996).

Political violence in Sindh intensified in 1993 and 1994 (Jane's 14 Feb 2003). In 1994, fighting among MQM factions and between the MQM and Sindhi nationalist groups brought almost daily killings in Karachi (U.S. DOS Feb 1995). By July 1995, the rate of political killings in the port city reached an average of ten per day, and by the end of that year more than 1,800 had been killed (U.S. DOS Feb 1996).

The violence in Karachi and other cities began abating in 1996 as soldiers and police intensified their crackdowns on the MQM-A and other groups (Jane's 14 Feb 2003). Pakistani forces resorted to staged "encounter killings" in which they would shoot MQM activists and then allege that the killings took place during encounters with militants (U.S. DOS Feb 1996). Following a crackdown in 1997, the MQM-A adopted its present name, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, or United National Movement, which also has the initials MQM (HRW Dec 1997).

Sectarian violence, including bombings, experienced an upsurge in 1996 throughout Sindh, Punjab, and in the North-West Frontier Provinces, resulting in about 175 deaths. Although by the end of the year the government quelled much of the violence in Karachi, it has not produced a political settlement that would provide a lasting peace. The Pakistani Government attributed most terrorist acts in Karachi either to MQM, or to the Shaheed Bhutto group of the Pakistan People's Party, which was led by former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's brother until his death in a clash with police on 20 September 1996.

Tensions in Karachi, Pakistan's most populous city, experienced a disturbing resurgence in 1998, primarily as a result of fighting between the (majority) Altaf and (minority) Haqiqi factions of the MQM. 178 people were killed in Karachi in June 1998 alone, with over 3600 people killed as a result of political violence in Karachi over between 1996 and 1998. Apart from fighting between the two MQM factions, the Karachi conflict is also the result of a complex mixture of long-standing tensions between Mohajirs, the ethnic (predominantly rural) Sindhi population, and the provincial government. Responding to the violence, the Government of Pakistan on 28 May 1998 made a promulgation of Emergency under Article 232 of the Constitution. In August 1998 Interior Minister Ch Shujat Hussain denied MQM allegations that security agencies were involved in the Karachi unrest. He challenged the (MQM (A) to present proof of these charges, and denied the impression that "agencies" were patronising one political group MQM (H) to crush MQM (A).

The ruling PML(N)'s troubled alliance with the MQM(A) in Sindh province finally ruptured during October 1998. Without the MQM(A), the PML(N) no longer had the numbers to govern in the Sindh province, leaving a clear path for the opposition Pakistan People's Party of Benazir Bhutto to join with the MQM(A) to form a majority in the Sindh assembly. The mounting pressure of a failed alliance and possible loss of government in Sindh, plus the increased violence, led Nawaz Sharif, on 30 October 1998 to impose Governor's rule.

The Pakistan Armed Forces (Acting Aid of the Civil Power) Ordinance was promulgated on 20 November 1998, with provisions that included the establishment of Military Courts in the Province of Sindh. This Ordinance extends only to the province of Sindh and visualizes that on the direction of the Federal Government the designated authority would convene as many courts as may be necessary to try offenses tribunal under of Ordinance. The offenses include the newly defined offense of "Creating Civil Commotion." The military measures reduced the number of murders in Karachi. But oposition and human rights groups challenged the legality of the special military courts in the Supreme Court. And on 17 February 1999 Pakistan's Supreme Court ruled that the special military courts were unconstitutional. Since the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the United States, the MQM-A has been increasingly critical of Islamic militant groups in Pakistan. The MQM-A, which generally has not targeted Western interests, says that it supports the global campaign against terrorism (Jane's 14 Feb 2003). The MQM-A is not on the U.S. State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations (U.S. DOS 23 May 2003).

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 15:41:06 ZULU