All Pakistan Muttahidda Students Organization

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The All Pakistan Muttahida Students Organization (APMSO) is notable for being the student organization that created its mother organization, the Muhajir Qaumi Movement, now called the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).[1] APMSO was founded by Altaf Hussain who was a member of Islami Jamiat e Talaba. This is claimed that his organisation failed to help him when he was struck off the roles because of shortness in attendance. Altaf Hussain claimed that he was targeted because of his eyhinicity.

Instead of trying to downplay destructive ethnic politics that were a danger to national cohesion,the Pakistani government allowed the existence of ethnic-based student organizations.In one of Pakistan’s well known universities, Karachi University, there were at least ten different groups of students;The Pakhtoon Student Federation, Baloch Student Organization, Punjabi Student Association, Punjabi Medico Organization, Sindhi Medico Organization, Jiye Sindh Student Organization, Sindhi Student Action Committee, Saraiki Student Organization, Kashmiri Student Federation, Balochistani Student Association, and the Islami Jamiyat-e-Talba.In 1978,a group of Urdu speaking students of Karachi University, led by Altaf Hussain, created the APMSO on June 11, 1978.[2]

Muhajir identity[edit]

Muhajirs had never liked the idea of identifying themselves with sindhi population on the basis of ethnicity or nationality and were always hostile of "Sindhi nationalism" instead of "ethnic nationalism." But Ethno-nationalist politicians convinced them that circumstances needed them to seek their identity on ethnic lines.[3] The Muhajir sense of isolation came into being through a series of events. The three most important being the 1964 presidential elections, the 1972 language riots, and the post-1985 ethnic clashes between Muhajirs and non-Muhajirs in Karachi. "During the December 1964 presidential elections, the Muhajir population of Karachi experienced a wrath of a Pathan backlash when Gohar Ayub Khan, son of President Ayub Khan, launched a series of attacks on Muhajir communities because of their support for Fatimah Jinnah, the sister of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, against Ayub Khan." Though Gohar Ayub's intentions were to target those who opposed his father, ethno-nationalists portrayed the move as specifically targeting Muhajirs[4] At this time Ayub Khan moved the federal capital from Karachi to Islamabad, causing further anger amongst the elite of the Muhajir community, especially the bureaucracy.

The 1972 language riots were caused by the passage of a language bill by the Sindhi Assembly declaring Sindhi to be the provincial language along with Urdu.The making of Sindhi as an equal language to Urdu for official purposes frustrated the elite of the Muhajir community as it disfavored their hegemony over the region.

His regime's policies denationalized banks, insurance companies, and other big businesses. Initially, two banks were transferred from government to private management. Soon the government had earmarked 125 industrial units for privatization.[5]

In June 1978 the All Pakistan Muhajir Student Organization was formed and it took on the task of creating a sense of distinction amongst Muhajir youth,on linguistic line,from the rest of Pakistanis. From the APMSO, in March 1984, was created the Muhajir Qaumi Movement. Now called the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM),its leader declares its ideology to be based on Realism and Practicalism. "Acceptance of reality with an open heart is Realism, a concept based upon the philosophy of its Founder and Leader Mr. Altaf Hussain. Based on Realism positive achievement made through ideologically supported pragmatic programs is called Practicalism." [6]

Karachi University and youth politics[edit]

Karachi University has been the hub of student political activity for many decades. "Student politics were born with the formation of Islami Jamiat Talba (IJT) and the Democratic Students' Federation (DSF) in 1948."[7] Since then, numerous student political groups have emerged throughout the country representing different races, ethnicities, cultures, and ideologies.

"In the first few decades of Pakistan's existence, student politics was a symbol of the students' socio-political awareness."[7] But change was quick and drastic, especially in the 1980s and 1990s. "Karachi University, like its host city, has always been a melting pot for students from all over the country. Its grounds have seen the spirited expression of various socio-political schools of thought, the gradual desensitisation of students after the military takeover of 1979 as well as the violent military crackdown on the APMSO-PSF conflict in 1993 that was followed by the indefinite deployment of Rangers on campus."[7] In April 1984 General Zia Ul-Haq imposed a ban on all student organizations throughout the country, which prohibited the "formation and continuance" of student unions and stipulated a punishment of violators of the regulation by rigorous imprisonment up to five years, by a fine, or by both.[8]

Although political parties still exist on campus, authorities deny their presence. Because of the constant rise in violence, the number of student political activists has dropped tremendously. Today parents "fearfully raise their children to mind their own business, study to build careers, not ideologies and lead safe, peaceful lives in sheltered cocoons. While student attendance may be full at academic, entertainment, or sports events organized by these parties, for any other events, students hesitate.

Despite constant condemnation by university administration, media and even the general student body, these parties maintain that they still have a role to play in society. Some students attribute this intolerance to the intolerance of university authorities for students' expressions against injustice. Nabeel Husain, in charge of APMSO's KU wing, adds to the case for political restoration of students, "We propose the restoration of a student union that has equal participation from all students. What we want is a students' parliament accommodating all the students in a peaceful, free environment."[7]

According to the APMSO's KU Organizer Nabeel Husain, the alleged party workers had in fact nothing to do with APMSO, and that there have been numerous cases of students belonging to certain ethnic groups using the APMSO name to get out of attending classes. He insisted that his party strongly condemns students' missing classes for any reason. However, Nabeel does agree that security threats are indeed an issue and that the party has in the past requested the administration to provide security to some workers threatened by rival parties persisting to destroy the peace of the university.[7]


  1. ^ "Muttahida Qaumi Movement". Pakistan Zindabad. Retrieved 10 July 2012. 
  2. ^ Altaf Hussain. Retrieved on 2013-08-03.
  3. ^ Ethnicity and State Power in Pakistan
  4. ^ Professor Moonis Ahmar, University of Karachi
  5. ^ Pakistan in 1991: Light and Shadows
  6. ^ Official MQM Website
  7. ^ a b c d e The News International
  8. ^ Pakistan:A Country Study, Richard F. Nyrop

External links[edit]