Altaf Hussain

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The founder and leader of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) is one of the three political leaders who became prominent after 1985. Two of them Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto became the Prime Ministers of Pakistan but Altaf Hussain did not come out of Sind and especially Karachi politics.

He was born on September 17, 1953 at Karachi. His parents Nazir Hussain and Khurshid Begum both belonged to Agra and migrated to Pakistan after partition. Altaf Hussain did his matric in 1969 form Government Boys Secondary School Jail Road, Karachi. After passing his F.Sc. from Government City College, he joined the National Cadet Service Scheme but could not complete his training with the 57 Bloch regiment due to an unpleasant incident and returned again to pursue his studies. He did his B.Sc from Islamia Science College in 1974 and secured a degree in B. Pharmacy from Karachi University in 1979 but due to uncertain conditions he had to leave the university.

Altaf Hussain became active in politics during his university days and founded the All Pakistan Muhajir Students Organization, (APMSO). This organization was later upgraded to Muhajir Qaumi Movement (MQM) on March 18, 1984. Despite the fact that the venue of the party spread out from the university its main organizers remained the same as those during the university days working for APMSO. The main objective of the Muhajir Qaumi Movement was to urge the government to accept Muhajirs as a nationality of Pakistan like any other nationality of the country. In the center they demanded the right of representation and grant of quota in all educational institutions and jobs throughout the Sind province. They yearned for their quota in power echelon too. The movement played an important role to introduce the Mohajjirs in the power structure of Pakistan at high level. After he was severely criticized by the intellectuals and the general public, he was obliged to make his MQM onwards as Muttihida Qaumi Moverment.

Altaf Hussain himself has never contested any election held in Pakistan and even none of the members of his family ever took part in politics. The MQM won 13 National Assembly seats and 32 Provincial Assembly in the October 2002 elections. All the seats have been won in Sindh and MQM has been unable to secure any seat in rest of the provinces.

Altaf Hussain’s residence at Karachi, known as nine zero (90), had been the Head Office of MQM and all his political activities. But after an life attempt in December 1991 and just before the government operation in June 1992 he moved to Saudi Arabia and then to UK. Since then he has been living in self-exile and invariably continues to play his role as a power broker by leading his party from London and keeping in touch with his political party and workers through letters or on phone line. He also addresses the public meetings and rallies from time to time over phone / internet.

This article was last updated on Wednesday, Jan 06, 2010