Lahore: Pakistan`s major political parties, especially former premier Nawaz Sharif`s PML-N, are wary of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement`s attempt to garner
support in the politically crucial province of Punjab by holding a large public meeting in Lahore.
The MQM rally held at the Gaddafi Stadium yesterday was attended by over 15,000 people from across Pakistan.
The party, which largely draws its support from Urdu-speaking migrants from India settled in Karachi, has launched a concerted drive to establish a presence in Punjab.
Addressing the rally on phone from London, MQM chief Altaf Hussain said his party had come to Punjab despite efforts by the "establishment" to block its entry in Pakistan`s most populous province.
He asked the people of Punjab to give the MQM a chance, saying it would not disappoint them like other political parties.
"No one can now say that the MQM is only a party of Karachi. All should witness there is no difference between Karachi and Lahore...This is not a public meeting.
"In fact, it is the beginning of a peaceful revolution," Hussain.
Besides pledging to work for the "labour class, women and minorities", Hussain said the MQM would also solve the Kashmir issue if it succeeded in forming the government.
The PML-N, which rules Punjab, criticised the MQM rally, saying the party had brought in supporters from outside the province for its show of strength.
PML-N leader Saeed Elahi, also a spokesman for the Punjab government, said the MQM had spent a huge sum of money for its gathering in Lahore. "It is collecting bhatta (extortion money) from Karachi`s businessmen and spending it on meetings like the one in Lahore," Elahi alleged.
The MQM`s meeting was a "flop show" as it would never manage to make inroads into Punjab, he contended.
Senior Jamaat-e-Islami leader Liaquat Baloch too said the MQM always brought its workers and supporters from Karachi and Hyderabad districts of Sindh province for putting up "good political shows" in Punjab.
He said it was surprising the way certain media outlets were giving coverage to the MQM`s meeting.
"The MQM earlier had a public meeting at Alhamra in Lahore last year but no revolution has come as promised by Altaf Hussain," he said.