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August 26, 2016

Tough times for the MQM


August 26, 2016

One is enraged when people’s statements and behaviours exude hypocrisy. The debate after Altaf Hussain’s insane tirade has attracted a plethora of statements.

What intrigues me is when one congratulates the people of Karachi for shrugging off the fear of Altaf Hussain and his MQM, and not allowing themselves to be held hostage to any provocation. No one asks, perhaps for extremely difficult reasons, who allowed MQM to become what it is today.

It was my beloved state and its institutions that not only nurtured the party but also used it to perpetuate their unconstitutional regimes. From businessmen to the media, everyone has been subservient to the MQM. No one could dare question its actions. And the ones who did were dealt with accordingly. The question arises: what has changed for the MQM now? Why is it not the same MQM that it once was?

As they say, politics is a ruthless game and demands continuous improvisation at every stage, be it of any nature. No political party, regional or national, can afford to lose its highly sellable commodity. If it does then the damage has no limits. This is precisely what has happened to the MQM over the last few years.

First, its militant side, which it used to establish its political might, has not only been challenged but has also been neutralised to a significant extent. Second, its established political side has been marginalised. Altaf Hussain, who self-styled this party from London, has virtually gone insane now.

Seeing the impending end to his gruesome ethnic militancy, Altaf Hussain has stooped to incendiary language and personal insults. If one takes into account the happenings of the last three days then it is all thumbs down for the MQM for the moment.

The way forward for the party is going to be a complicated equation. The recent act of distancing the MQM from Altaf Hussain has hardly impressed anyone. The leadership in Karachi has an uphill task at hand. They not only have to maintain the trust of their voter but also have to woo back acceptance by the military establishment, the Rangers in particular.

The first task seems a little less difficult whereas the later will not be easy at all. Pakistan’s military is not ready to accept Altaf Hussain’s MQM. At the same time, Dr Farooq Sattar and his friends cannot afford to disown Altaf Hussain as their electoral strength lies with Brand Altaf. As long as this brand is connected to the MQM, finding acceptance from the brass will be next to impossible. The situation is going to murkier for the MQM and for the people of Karachi.

This is because Altaf Hussain, whose physical and mental health is questionable, can make some desperate and suicidal moves by reinvigorating a new wave of violence in Karachi. Altaf Hussain and his militant side may have been hit hard but they certainly have the capacity to hit back.

The Rangers and their strategists, who have done a splendid job in restoring peace in Karachi to a large extent, may have to think through this situation with a cool head. It is undeniable fact that the MQM does have its support base in Karachi which is based on loyal voters.

The Rangers and the military should allow the MQM’s Karachi leadership to work and function like a political party. Similarly, the MQM needs to come out clean and not only disapprove the verbal assaults of Altaf Hussain but also condemn him for doing so.

Any disproportional excess from either side could cost Karachi its hard-earned peace and stability.

The writer works for Geo News.

Email: [email protected]


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