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Altaf Hussain, founder and leader of Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), was born on September 17, 1953 in the port city of Karachi. His father Nazir Hussain and his mother Khurshid Begum both belonged to a religious family of Aghra, a very prominent City in India. His Grand-father Mufti Muhammad Ramzan was Mufti of the City of Aghra. He was a great Islamic scholar. His mother and his maternal Grandfather, Haji Hafiz Raheem Buxsh also belonged to a well-known religious and honorable family of Aghra.
After the creation of Pakistan on August 14, 1947, his whole family migrated from India to Pakistan and settled in a lower middle-class neighborhood of "Ibn-e-sena line" in Karachi. Mr. Altaf Hussain's father died on March 13th, 1967 and mother died on December 5, 1985.
After getting his primary and secondary education from Government schools, as the family could not afford private schooling, he joined compulsory National Cadet Service Scheme. After being selected for training he was assigned in 57 Balochistan Regiment as soldier # 2642671 and sent to war in former East Pakistan. After the war was over, he willfully wanted to join the regular army, although being cleared all the tests and interviews he was rejected from the army because he was a “ Mohajir “ (a son of an Immigrant). He then joined Karachi University in the faculty of Pharmacy. During his stay at the University he felt a vacuum in student politics for the sons and daughters of Urdu-speaking immigrants. So in 1978, he along with some of his classmates founded All Pakistan Mohajir Student Organization (APMSO). It is said that this was the turning point in the student politics of Pakistan. APMSO gained momentum like wild fire in the colleges of Karachi, as if this platform was eagerly awaited and finally this student movement transpired into MQM of Mohajir Quami Movement by 1986.
Altaf Hussain in his mid twenties not only saw and felt the unfairness of the admission policies in schools but also in the broader spectrum he saw and felt the unfair feudal framework consisting of only 2% of the elites who were busy in writing the faith of 98% of the middle and lower middle classes of the country. In general, a son of an immigrant started a struggle of awareness against the unfair feudal system of Pakistan. How dare a harmonic system of elites who were systematically and methodically dislodging the wealth of the people of Pakistan being challenged by a son of an immigrant, how dare a son of an immigrant starts raising his head and voice of those 98% who have been working hard but disregarded and ignored, this was the mother of all the sins of the century, and sinner must be punished so at the day break of June 19th, 1992, young workers of MQM started getting punished by the elite forces of the country and by the time dust settled in 1996, twelve thousand families were either waiting for their young sons to return back to them or they were hoping for some justice from God.
Mr. Altaf Hussain established a political party representing lower- and middle-class population of Pakistan. First time in the history of the country lower middle-class gained access, through the MQM platform, by being elected for National and Provincial assemblies of Pakistan.
The most interesting phenomenon was that nobody from either sides of Altaf Hussain’s families were politicians or close to politics. Now MQM led by its founder and leader Mr. Altaf Hussain is the third largest political party of Pakistan and the second largest political party in the Southern Province of Sindh. Unlike the leaders of various political parties of Pakistan and their families, neither Altaf Hussain nor any of his relatives were ever seen contesting for any political office in Pakistan.
Altaf Hussain came from a family of seven brothers and four sisters. His elder brother, Nasir Hussain was a government employee and was allotted a small quarter on Jahangir Road, where the whole family was moved from Ibin-e-sena lines. In early 1970's Mr. Altaf Hussain and his family shifted to a small house of 120 sq yards (1,080 sq.ft.) in Azizabad, Karachi. This small house later became the party Head Quarter of MQM and presently known as Nine Zero.
On December 5, 1995, during Pakistan People’s Party’s (PPP) government, Nasir Hussain , 66, and his son Arif Hussain, 28, were arrested from their home by police on unknown charges and were found brutally murdered on December 9, 1995. Their tortured and mutilated bodies were thrown in a remote area of Karachi.
Altaf Hussain now lives in London, where party workers would like to see him insulated from the death squads of Pakistan, But Mr. Hussain is by no means isolated from his workers. He not only directs and controls the direction of the movement but is also in a very close contact with his people - the people of Pakistan.