London/Islamabad: MQM leader Altaf Hussain has given up control over the party after coming under widespread criticism for calling Pakistan a "cancer", the media reported on Wednesday.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief has handed over all powers of party reorganisation as well as policy-making to the Coordination Committee, MQM spokesman Wasay Jalil said.
Hussain said: "Keeping in view the statements by MQM leader Farooq Sattar and other MQM members, I hand over powers of reorganisation, policy making and decision making to the Raabita Committee.
"I will continue to focus on improving my health in line with the Coordination Committee's suggestions," Hussain tweeted.
The MQM chief, who for decades has held sway over the Urdu speaking population of Karachi and Sindh, claimed he was "under acute stress" due to back-to-back "incidents", upsetting news and day-and-night work.
He also apologised for hurting the sentiments of Pakistanis with his earlier anti-Pakistan remarks.
Hussain lost his cool on Monday while addressing MQM activists in Karachi over telephone from London -- the usual way he keeps contacts -- after violence broke out in the city's southern districts.
The MQM workers were protesting outside the Karachi Press Club against "enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings of workers".
A livid Hussain then said: "Pakistan is cancer for entire world. Pakistan is headache for the entire world.
"Pakistan is the epicentre of terrorism for the entire world. Who says long live Pakistan... It's down with Pakistan."
On Tuesday, Khwaja Izahrul Hassan, leader of the opposition in the Sindh assembly, told Dawn that the MQM leadership in London had not been consulted before holding the press conference -- to indicate that the MQM in Pakistan was beginning to act on its own.
Sattar said: "From now onwards, decisions will be made in Pakistan. This message is for the London office as well as for Pakistan office-bearers."
Dawn reported that Sattar, after being released from the custody of Rangers, spoke to party leaders, lawmakers including some who were abroad and communicated his decision to disown Hussain's statement and take over the MQM.
Hussain has run the day-to-day organisational affairs of the party over phone from the confines of his palatial London residence for a long time although he does not hold any office in the MQM.
The MQM is a political party registered with the Election Commission of Pakistan in the name of Farooq Sattar.
But Sattar's announcement failed to cut any ice with other political parties which continued to denounce Hussain for his anti-Pakistan remarks.
Pakistan Sunni Tehrik leaders Maulana Noor Ahmed Qasmi and Khalid Hassan Attari and others insisted that the MQM must be banned and sedition cases registered against all those who raised anti-Pakistan slogans.
They accused Hussain of being an Indian spy who was out to destabilise Pakistan.