Pakistan: Information on Mohajir/Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Altaf (MQM-A)

To See the source, click here, UNHCR

Query: Provide information on the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Altaf (MQM-A) in Pakistan.

Response: SUMMARY- 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.

BACKGROUND

The current MQM-A is the successor to a group called the Mohajir Qaumi Movement (MQM) that was founded by Altaf Hussein in 1984 as a student movement to defend the rights of Mohajirs, who by some estimates make up 60 percent of Karachi’s population of twelve million. At the time, Mohajirs were advancing in business, the professions, and the bureaucracy, but many resented the quotas that helped ethnic Sindhis win university slots and civil service jobs. Known in English as the National Movement for Refugees, the MQM soon turned to extortion and other types of racketeering to raise cash. Using both violence and efficient organizing, the MQM became the dominant political party in Karachi and Hyderabad, another major city in Sindh. Just three years after its founding, the MQM came to power in these and other Sindh cities in local elections in 1987 (AI 1 Feb 1996; U.S. DOS Feb 1997, Feb 1999; HRW Dec 1997).

The following year, the MQM joined a coalition government at the national level headed by Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), which took power in elections following the death of military leader General Zia ul-Haq. This marked the first of several times in the 1980s and 1990s that the MQM joined coalition governments in Islamabad or in Sindh province. Meanwhile, violence between the MQM and Sindhi groups routinely broke out in Karachi and other Sindh cities (AI 1 Feb 1996; 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).

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).

MQM-A leader Hussein fled in 1992 to Britain, where he received asylum in 1999 (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).

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 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).

The MQM-A and other factions also 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).

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).

This response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the RIC within time constraints. This response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.

References:

Amnesty International (AI). HUMAN RIGHTS CRISIS IN KARACHI (1 Feb 1996, ASA 33/01/96), http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGASA330011996?open&of=ENG-PAK [Accessed 6 Feb 2004]

Human Rights Watch (HRW). WORLD REPORT 1998, “Pakistan” (Dec 1997), http://www.hrw.org/worldreport/Asia-09.htm#P823_214912 [Accessed 6 Feb 2004]

Jane’s Information Group (Jane’s). JANE’S WORLD INSURGENCY AND TERRORISM-17, “Muthida [sic] Qaumi Movement (MQM-A)” (14 Feb 2003), http://www.janes.com [Accessed 6 Feb 2004]

U.S. Department of State (U.S. DOS). “Foreign Terrorist Organizations” (23 May 2003), http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/fs/2003/12389.htm [Accessed 6 Feb 2004]

U.S. Department of State (U.S. DOS). COUNTRY REPORTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES FOR 1998, “Pakistan” (Feb 1999), http://www.state.gov/www/global/human_rights/1998_hrp_report/pakistan.html [Accessed 6 Feb 2004]

U.S. Department of State (U.S. DOS). COUNTRY REPORTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES FOR 1996, “Pakistan” (Feb 1997), http://www.state.gov/www/global/human_rights/1996_hrp_report/pakistan.html [Accessed 6 Feb 2004]

U.S. Department of State (U.S. DOS). COUNTRY REPORTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES FOR 1995, “Pakistan” (Feb 1996), http://dosfan.lib.uic.edu/ERC/democracy/1995_hrp_report/95hrp_report_sasia/Pakistan.html [Accessed 6 Feb 2004]

U.S. Department of State (U.S. DOS). COUNTRY REPORTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES FOR 1994, “Pakistan” (Feb 1995), http://dosfan.lib.uic.edu/ERC/democracy/1994_hrp_report/94hrp_report_sasia/Pakistan.html [Accessed 6 Feb 2004]

U.S. Department of State (U.S. DOS). COUNTRY REPORTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES FOR 1991, “Pakistan” (Feb 1992).

U.S. Department of State (U.S. DOS). COUNTRY REPORTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES FOR 1990, “Pakistan” (Feb 1991).

Attachments:

Jane’s Information Group (Jane’s). JANE’S WORLD INSURGENCY AND TERRORISM-17, “Muthida [sic] Qaumi Movement (MQM-A)” (14 Feb 2003), http://www.janes.com [Accessed 6 Feb 2004]

Source: UNHCR
http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/414fe5aa4.html

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30 thoughts on “Pakistan: Information on Mohajir/Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Altaf (MQM-A)”

  1. MQM created major problem after Banglai they are playing with the signal of indian agencisese even in karachi divided the nation and call as major who is major all ofhave pakistan isentitu card pakistani land properties than why call major in the karachi they are divided the nation and playing in other hands against the fadration against the nation unity we are condumaned this and asked army and govt to totally band this party this party leqder sittong in london and working against country and nation how many innovent peoples killed in karachi who is responsible of this sitution this ia big symble so nation and army thought and a took action against auch party who want to divide the countty if they sincer do ploitics come in pakistan and work sincerly for country and nation

  2. mqm is a terriorist party.the leaders of the mqm have very cheapest views and they are leading this party as a terriorist group.

  3. jo log kom parsti ka nara lgatay hai,,vo sb sai bray baygairt hai,,hm phlai muslim or phir pakistani hai bs,,jaha tk baat mqm ki hai,,to es jesi zalil or kamini party shaid hi dunia mai koi ho,,muhajir koam ke asl party jamatay islami or muhajir komi movment afaq bhai hai,,,ap kaatlo ka es vjha sai sath na do kai vo muhajir hai,,,mqm nai to muhajir komi movment kai hazaro logo ko katl kia ,,vo sb bhi to muhajir thai,,,jamatay islami ko puray pakistan mai ehtram ki nazr sai dekha jata hai,,us kai sb leadr bhi to muhajir hai,,,i like muhajirs i like all muhajir peopels,,muhajir koam ka lfz hi galt hai,,muhajir to vo sechay pakistani hai ,,jinho nai apnay lakho bhai k jaan gnva kr pakistan ko hijrat ki,,but afsoos aj muhajir koam ko iltaf kuttay nai yargamal bnaya hoa hai,,ankhay kholo meray bhai,,kaatlo ka sath mt do ,,shayay vo kisi bhi koam jamat sai ho..hak or sech ka sath do,,dr abdul kadir khan bno,,iltaf jesa baygayrt mt bno,,jis nai mizaray qaid pr komi flag ko aag lgai thi,,

  4. …. Umeed hay Allah Rabul Izzat isko or iskay terrorist network Kuttay ki moat naseeb farmay ga. Ameen nahuzoor sarbasujood

  5. Jo MQM ko bura bhala keh rahey hain, wo khabees log hain. Jesey punjabi etc. inhi punjabion aur sindion ne mulk ko yarghamal banaya hua hai. MQM muhajir ki power hai, aur kiun na ho. jab PML punjabion ki jamat hai,ppp sindion ki to MQM kiun nahin muhajiron ki jamaat ho sakti. Tareekh gawah hai ke in punjabion, sindion ke toley ne MQM pe ghatia , jhootey aur bebuniyad ilzam laga kar jhoota operation karaya , jis ka bhanda baad men DG ISI ne phor diya. ab ye sindhi, pathanon ke sath mil kar dubara muhajiron ka qatl e aam kar rahey hain. Lakin karachi ki awam MQM ke sath hai aur wo in luteron ko karachi pe qabza nahin karney de gi. Long live MQM & ALtaf bhai.

  6. MQM in reality is a terrorist organization,killing innocent people. A.H is leading this mafia

  7. I belive if altaf ……
    …..
    On this way we can safe, save the people of PAKISTAN.

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