MQM to hold referendum on 8th, despite Taliban threat
KARACHI, Nov 4: Unfazed by a Taliban threat, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement announced on Sunday that it would hold a referendum across the country on Nov 8 in what appears to be an attempt to unite the nation against the militant organisation.
Addressing a press conference, senior MQM leader Dr Farooq Sattar said people would be asked in the referendum whether they wanted a Pakistan of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah or of Taliban.
Referring to the armed attack on Malala Yousufzai and two other girls in Swat, he said it was unfortunate that terrorists belonging to the outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan were carrying out attacks in the name of Islam to stop students, particularly girls, from acquiring knowledge.
He said the nation had demonstrated remarkable unity after the attack on Malala, adding that people wanted the spread of knowledge and education, religious tolerance, sectarian harmony and protection of life and property and did not subscribe to distorted ideas and thinking of the Taliban.
“The MQM referendum will help to infuse a new spirit in the problem-ridden country and help it in getting back on its feet. It will also help in making Pakistan a truly independent country,” said Mr Sattar, who is federal Minister for Overseas Pakistanis.
He said the Quaid-i-Azam had not wanted Pakistan to be a theocratic state. He wanted Pakistan to be a liberal, secular and progressive state where followers of every religion, sect and school of thought would be free to go to their places of worship.
“Taliban terrorists are trying to mutilate the Quaid’s vision and it is now for the people of Pakistan to decide what type of Pakistan they want,” he said.
Accompanied by members of the MQM coordination committee, Mr Sattar appealed to professionals, religious scholars, businessmen, industrialists, farmers, peasants and students to take part in the referendum for a bright future of Pakistan. He said the MQM would set up thousands of polling stations across the country to let people cast their votes on Nov 8. The polling would start at 9am and continue till 5pm, he said, adding that ballot papers had been published and would be available at every polling station.
Dr Sattar said a commission comprising retired judges, senior lawyers and intellectuals would oversee the referendum and announce the results. The names of members of the referendum commission and other details would be announced later, he added.
He said an online voting facility would be available on MQM’s website (www.mqm.org) and people could also cast their votes through SMS.
Answering a question, he said that irrespective of the consequences the MQM would continue its struggle to develop the country in accordance with the vision of Quaid-i-Azam.