Who is the World Muhajir Congress?

On 28th April 2017, some Indian outlets ran a story which announced that members of a new mysterious group called World Muhajir Congress met with members of The House Foreign Affairs Committee and briefed them on “strong connection between the ISI and terrorist groups”. The story was mostly ignored by Pakistani media for a few days except for Daily Pakistan. The word ‘Muhajir’ is an Arabic-origin term used in Pakistan to refer to Muslim immigrants and their descendants of multi-ethnic origin who migrated from different regions of India after the Partition of India to settle in the newly formed state of Pakistan. Today, Muhajirs are considered an ethnic minority in Pakistan and their political stronghold is Karachi. The general meaning of the word ‘Muhajir’ in Arabic and Urdu is the same: Muslim immigrants.

At this point some questions come to mind: what exactly is World Muhajir Congress? Who is behind it? Why is it lobbying U.S. government against Pakistan? And so on. To get answers, we will have to go all the way back to 22nd August 2016.

The MQM-London Connection

Last year on 22nd August, founder and leader of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Mr Altaf Hussein, during a live audio speech to MQM members in Pakistan who were protesting at the time, made some highly provocative comments, bordering on incitement to violence and treason, about Pakistan and Pakistani Army. These comments were not against the government but against the state and the national army. While Mr Hussain had made similar comments with lesser intensity in the past in private functions of MQM in U.S., Canada, etc, this was the first time this happened in Pakistan during a public protest and was instantly covered by all national media. On Mr Hussain’s part, the speech was no accident and was well-timed. None of the main MQM leaders in Pakistan knew this was going to happen until it was too late. Local MQM leaders went into damage control mode later that night but it was too late and soon after that a crackdown started against MQM’s political activities. The crackdown left MQM, which was already divided into three groups by then (PSP, Haqiqi and Altaf group) was now divided into four groups; a new group emerged with the name of MQM-Pakistan which was led by Mr Farooq Sattar and Mr Amir. The remaining pro-Altaf Hussain group emerged as MQM-London but since it is not a registered party in Pakistan, its activities were banned and several of its members were arrested. But even today MQM-London has many supporters in Pakistan, who are no more concentrated in Karachi. Instead, MQM-London’s operatives have scattered themselves across the country as well as abroad. Very recently MQM-L operatives were arrested from Islamabad along with heavy weaponry while similar raids across Karachi continue to expose large quantities of weaponsexplosives and ammo hidden by MQM-L members. By analyzing the kind of weapons, explosives and ammo found hidden across Karachi by MQM-L members any security expert reaches the same conclusion: these caches of weapons weren’t meant for petty crimes but to wage a small war against a national army as anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons were included in these caches.

Since getting all but outlawed in Pakistan, MQM-L’s rhetoric against Pakistan and its state institutions has increased as they have little to lose now. Very recently, Mr Altaf Hussain said in a statement, which was widely quoted in Indian media, that Pakistan Army and Rangers is pushing Sindh towards civil war. Amusingly, Altaf didn’t explain if Pakistan Army was pushing Sindh towards civil war then why were MQM-L’s members preparing to wage civil war in Pakistan since as far back as 2008 and why does everyone from Pakistani media to BBC accuse MQM-L to be involved in heinous crimes including burning alive the very same Muhajirs they claim to represent.

The Haqqani Network

Another piece in the puzzle is Pakistan’s former ambassador to United States of America Mr Husain Haqqani, who has been accused of treason in Pakistan in a major scandal dubbed Memogate scandal. Mr Husain Haqqani also recently admitted in his own article published in Washington Post that while he was ambassador, visas were issued to CIA agents apparently to locate and kill or capture Osama Bin Laden. These days Mr Haqqani is enjoying a nice quiet life in United States after nicely having played the role for which he was chosen as ambassador to U.S. by his boss who took over a political party after the mysterious assassination of his wife which he never investigated during his five year rule. Makes one wonder that it all sounds too good to be a coincidence.

Pakistan’s Former Ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani with President George W. Bush.

Today, Mr Haqqani works for Hudson Institute, a pro-India and anti-Pakistan think tank, and is very close to all major Indian lobbyists in DC, while his wife Farahnaz Isphani is getting great book deals. In last ten years, Mr Haqqani has actively undermined Pakistan’s interests and more recently he has stepped out of the bag and has established himself as someone who has a narrow anti-Pakistan agenda, which is what makes him popular in India as well as among pro-India lobbyists in U.S. Mr Haqqani is now playing a leading role in the ‘recruitment’ of Pakistanis based in U.S. who may be disgruntled from the state or maybe easily influenced. These Pakistanis will be eventually used to undermine Pakistan’s interests in various ways. More on that later.

 

The London Meeting

On October 28-30, 2016 a mysterious conference was held in London where many anti-state/anti-military leftists and liberals were invited and which was officially backed and funded by SAATH Forum, which was launched specifically to act as a front group and financier-on-paper of this conference.

When we visit the website of SAATH Forum, we see this suspicious message:

Reading the message, it becomes clear that the main reason behind the conference as well as launch of SAATH Forum was to begin collaboration between anti-state and anti-Pak Army Pakistanis. It also becomes somewhat evident that the ideas those behind this conference want to mainstream among Pakistan’s youth are more than just secular ideas since this conference included only anti-state left-wingers and a had an obvious anti-Pakistan Army theme.  If there’s one thing that is most dangerous for the secular movement in Pakistan, it is association with a bunch of anti-state left-wingers.

Further exploring tells us SAATH Forum is based in Austin, Texas.

One of the first tweets sent out by SAATH Forum is this unsubtle post that may give us a hint who is behind this group:

All the people invited in this conference were staunch anti-Pak Army people while many genuine secularists and liberals, whether based in West or Pakistan, who want to see Pakistan thrive and prosper were ignored. The funding of this conference was provided by MQM-London group which itself is funded by India, according to BBC and Pakistan’s intelligence community.

On the sidelines of this conference, another meeting was held between Mr Altaf Hussain and Mr Haqqani, where it was decided that MQM-L and Mr Haqqani’s network will collaborate in their fight against the Pakistani state and military in particular, which they both see as a righteous fight. This information comes from highly credible well-placed sources. It is worthy to note here that Mr Haqqani himself is a Muhajir and even though he was associated with Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami and then secular PPP in the past, he has recently made statements on Pakistani media that indicate he is pushing himself as a ‘Muhajir voice’.

In the photo below, Altaf Hussain can be seen seated in the front while Mr Husain Haqqani can be seen right behind him, standing beside Mr Murtaza Solangi, who works for Capital TV.


Below are some more photos from the conference featuring usual suspects:

Two well-known journalists seen in this image: Miss Asma Shirazi, who works for AAJ TV, and Faizan Lakhani, who works for Geo Network.

World Muhajir Congress As Proxy Lobby Group

Coming back to World Muhajir Congress, which emerged 6 months after the London meeting, and after analyzing the first story published in media relating to this group it is safe to say that the designated purpose for this group is to be used as a proxy lobby group to undermine Pakistan’s interests and lobby for Indian interests in Washington DC and possibly other capitals of the West. The fact that this new shady group was able to meet with U.S. government officials signals it has the backing of some very influential individuals in U.S. Mr Haqqani himself has major connections with DC elite, from being friends with a former CIA Director to having connections with influential think tank fellows and DC lobbyists. Mr Haqqani played a major role in bringing his former boss Mr Zardari to power in Pakistan, which is why readers will never find Mr Zardari being very vocal against Mr Haqqani. An investigation would most definitely lead to Mr Haqqani’s role in the emergence of World Muhajir Congress in some capacity. This is part of the collaboration that was decided between the anti-state elements in the London conference, an event which had indirect backing from New Delhi. As part of this collaboration, World Muhajir Congress will be used in future to lobby Washington against Pakistani military and intelligence community while lobbying for well-placed foreign assets in Pakistan. For anyone who understands how DC works, this would be no surprise. Indeed, similar proxy lobby groups consisting of disgruntled immigrants and dual nationals have been used in the past against the regimes in other countries to further the foreign policy interests of U.S. Since U.S. is a strategic partner of India and views Pakistan with suspicion, it has willingly become part and parcel of the India-backed campaign against Pakistan.

How has Pakistan decided to tackle this new threat is yet to be seen but not much can be expected from a government that simply refuses to appoint a strong Foreign Minister, which is by design. But what can be said for sure is that Pakistan will likely see more anti-Pakistan lobbying by World Muhajir Congress as well as similar groups that may be created in future to portray to represent other Pakistani ethnic groups. It has been part of the Indian hybrid war strategy to create and promote ethnic fault-lines in Pakistan to create and strengthen divisions may eventually lead Pakistan towards civil war. Unlike what Altaf Hussain recently said, it is not Pakistan Army or Rangers who are pushing Sindh towards civil war; instead, it is the domestic and foreign enemies of Pakistan who want to see a civil war not just in Sindh but in whole Pakistan that would weaken and controversialize the Pakistani military and allow Pakistan’s foreign enemies to use it as an excuse to start openly backing their assets in Pakistan for a final proxy takeover of the country.

Pakistan, on its part, is already well aware of all the plans of its foreign enemies and is effectively fighting back. Pakistan will stumble here and there but as a state it will move on. But what will happen to traitors of Pakistan? Being liberal, secular, atheist or whatever you identify as is never a problem; traitors who hide behind these labels are not fooling anyone except themselves. But collaborating with foreign agents and lobbying for the interests of an enemy state is treason under every law and in any case cannot be ignored or forgiven.

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Faran Jeffery

Faran Jeffery is a Pakistani researcher, analyst and expert on radicalization who comments on all-things security, terrorism & geopolitics, especially in South Asia region. Faran Jeffery holds M.A. in Military History from Norwich University, M.A. in International Relations from Karachi University and Bachelors in Israel Studies from American University.
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