Throughout its 26 years of electoral life, MQM had preferred solo flights, as its unflinching faith in its vote bank has helped it write history. Thus its decision to de-link from a 5-year coalition in Sindh and at the Centre, therefore, was least surprising. What was surprising however, and comical in fact, was the party’s reluctance to withdraw its ministers from occupying seats meant for cabinet members.
The situation becomes confusing all the more when 36 of their fellow MPAs have taken their seats on the opposite side. It is not only dichotomy, it looks like some sort of a joke.
Governor Ishratul Ebad resigned without losing a minute after the party’s decision to part ways with PPP, and rested in Dubai, but as in the past, western countries, interested in their investment in Karachi, persuaded him and Altaf Hussain to let him be back for being the most suitable for a slot, which even though not as powerful as was the case during Musharraf’s days, can still have a calming effect on a situation getting worse.
He is calm, cool, and calculated, and excels in winning friends. These are rare qualities which has been assets from him and his party, and has helped him win even the worst of enemies to his side. That alone has been the reason for being acceptable to all, and earned him the credit of being the longest serving governor for any province in Pakistan.
Logical indeed, yet some of the most die hard supporters of MQM, have remained unconvinced as to what prompted the party to keep its governor in office and then keeping an indiscreet silence on the future of its ministers in the Sindh cabinet.
The confusion was further compounded when Rehman Malik met the MQM chief in London and
sought his cooperation for future also. The press release issued by the party after the meeting was least understandable. It quoted Altaf Hussain as saying that core committees of the two main coalition parties, i.e. MQM and PPP will meet to sort out the situation. Such a statement was bound to give rise to questions as to whether the party has really decided to be in opposition at least till after the elections, or has there been some rethinking lately.
Some analysts even want to know whether MQM has changed its priorities. Argument, advanced by certain quarters, that it has become a complete political party now, when throughout its existence it had been asserting itself as a movement, is not easily digestible. In fact one tends to dismiss it as perverted logic.
The party has not deviated from its founding principles. Its slogan of being the spokesman for the 98 percent have-nots, and its persistent opposition to vested interests, ‘waderas’ and ‘jagirdars’, its insistence for making the middle class the backbone of the country, continue to be very, very powerful in nature and does carry a strong appeal to the teeming millions. The question nevertheless will continue to be asked whether its basic philosophy is intact.
However, the party needs to explain to its sympathizers and supporters about the second most important question. This is about as to whether it now has chosen to be permanently in the government. Such a view emerges from the outcome of the meeting Rehman Malik had with Altaf in London. Nothing wrong with that! Seeking power to implement its policies is the most potent objective for any political party, and if MQM has learnt lessons over the years, and has reached conclusions that it can better achieve its goals of benefiting its people by being in the government, is in tune with the time.
Political parties are not charitable organizations to confine themselves to welfare of the people. That too is and ought to be their motto. MQM runs a powerful charity foundation which is investing in future with projects like academic institutions, and simultaneously provide whatever temporary or urgent relief it thinks is required by the suffering humanity.
In the opinion of some, MQM has reached certain levels, where it can always alter its policy, and most critics believe it to be a correct approach. Changes become unavoidable with the change in time. This is not 80s or 90s, when MQM was in infancy or in formative stages. It has gained in experience, and must put those to its own benefit and for the benefit of its followers. It can simultaneously need to protect the interest of urban population which provides its strong holds.
Complaints have been mounting of indiscretion and inequality in job provision in Sindh. The quota system, in vogue only in the southern province, does demand 40/60 ratio of jobs between urban and rural areas. This is not being done. In fact it has flagrantly been violated by the PPP. In Information department also, 45 new information officers have been recruited, without reference to the public service commission, whose involvement becomes necessary for jobs in grade 17 and above.
Even the educational qualifications were relaxed. No urban representative was chosen from amongst those 45 new recruits. There are several examples where fundamental of the Constitution have been violated. MQM voters are now looking up to their party for support. Its candidates may face an ugly situation in some areas.
The demand for separate muhajir province, has been stoutly rejected by Altaf and colleagues, but these kinds of injustices, can not keep it quiet for long. Such is the situation, under which the party will have to seek fresh mandate. Win it will, no doubt about that, but may face a tough situation during electioneering
(The writer is a former adviser of Sindh Government)