Hussain (1953-), Altaf

24 June, 2008
Baixas Lionel

Also called “Altaf bhai” or “Pir Sahib” by its supporters, he created, along with other Muhajir students, the All Pakistan Muhajir Students Association (APMSO) at the University of Karachi Campus in 1978, which served as the organizing platform for the creation of the Muhajir Qaumi Movement (MQM; later renamed Muttahida Qaumi Movement) in 1984. The MQM aims to represent and defend the identity and the political rights of the Muhajir community. It asserts itself as a party dedicated to democracy and secularism. The party claims to be entirely non-violent and that its supreme leader, Altaf Hussain, who led it in a very centralized and personalized manner, has not been implicated in any terrorist attacks. It appears, however, that the MQM frequently resorts to street-gang methods, targeted killings, torture and terrorist attacks against its political opponents and the State agencies, and that it has been involved in many ethnic conflicts. Altaf Hussain’s responsibility for the party’s use of violence, nonetheless, remains unclear. Hussain left Pakistan in 1992 as the Pakistan Army launched a military operation against the MQM in Sindh, and lives since then in self-imposed exile in London. In 1992, the MQM split into two factions, one which remained loyal to Hussain, MQM (Altaf) and the other, MQM (Haqiqi) led by Afaq Ahmad and Amir Khan, former commanders of the MQM’s militant wing, the Black Tigers. The clash between the two factions resulted in many dead in added fuel to the chaotic situation in Sindh.

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Baixas Lionel, Hussain (1953-), Altaf, Mass Violence & Résistance, [online], published on: 24 June, 2008, accessed 17/05/2021,, ISSN 1961-9898
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