The unexplained visits of two senior leaders of the MQM to the UAE have triggered speculation that Dubai-based former Pakistani dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf is keen to become joint president of the two factions of the party, media reports said on Sunday. The city was abuzz with reports that senior Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui flew to Dubai on Friday where he met Musharraf who is more than willing to unite the Dr Farooq Sattar-led MQM and the Pak Sarzameen Party led by former Karachi mayor Mustafa Kamal, Dawn reported.
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Siddiqui returned home on Saturday. While those representing Musharraf, 73, on the social media remained tight-lipped about his political engagements in the UAE, the MQM promptly denied the meeting, the report said.
A spokesperson for the MQM, Aminul Haq, rejected reports of the meeting and said Siddiqui was in Pakistan. “He did not meet any politician, including Gen Pervez Musharraf.” He, however, confirmed that Siddiqui, MQM’s deputy parliamentary party leader in the National Assembly, visited Dubai for “less than 24 hours”, but said his trip was strictly personal in nature.
Before Siddiqui, MQM-Pakistan head Sattar also visited Dubai and returned on Friday. He told reporters at Karachi airport that he met neither Musharraf nor former governor of Sindh Dr Ishratul Ibad during his stay in the UAE. Meanwhile, The Express Tribune reported that the former Pakistani president has expressed his wish to become the joint president of the MQM and PSP.
According to Express News, MQM leader Khawaja Izhar held a meeting with Musharraf where the latter told the former that MQM is not left with any prominent personality and that the party needs one to foster its roots in the masses, presenting himself as a suitable personality for the purpose.
Musharraf said that if he were to become the leader of MQM it would greatly benefit the party since he was popular among the masses and could utilise this platform to make major contributions, the report said. During the meeting, the former president also expressed his idea of a merger between PSP and MQM and offered to take responsibility for getting PSP to accept MQM in its fold.
The former army chief, who took power in a 1999 coup and was facing charges of treason, was removed from the country’s “exit control list” in March after almost three years of being banned from international travel.
He had been prevented from leaving since April 2013, soon after he returned from self-imposed exile and became embroiled in a series of legal cases, including a historic government-initiated high treason trial.