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August 3, 2015

Time for MQM Pakistan to decide its ultimate course


August 3, 2015

DUBAI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Altaf Hussain has almost reached the end of his political marathon as the state of Pakistan has openly declared that he was waging a war against the state, which would not be allowed.
The life and death question for survival is for the MQM leaders and supporters in Pakistan.
After Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan’s statements on Sunday in which he elaborated how Altaf Hussain had crossed many red lines that must have been avoided, it is now clear that MQM, as it used to operate, would not be allowed, whether it is formally banned or not.
Circles and legal experts close to Mr Hussain in London confirm that he is in a state of sheer desperation, total depression and feeling helpless, caught in the vortex of many storms that he himself created against his party and his own politics.
In some people’s opinion like Asif Ali Zardari, who was caught in his own trap by threatening to demolish the security agencies, brick by brick, Altaf Hussain has brought his own party to a similar stage where his positions and words have become indefensible. That was the reason why Asif Zardari had to decide quickly to get out of Pakistan with his important family members and leaders but Mr Hussain is already out of the country.
The PPP had, however, already brushed aside these impressions about Zardar, who it said neither threatened agencies nor went abroad because of his speech. It said Zardari is out of the country as a matter of routine.
Analysts and some legal and political experts are, however, worried that by provoking the Army and the state against his party, Mr Hussain has tried to present the entire operation against terrorism in Karachi against one party which makes them a fit case to claim to be victims of ethnic cleansing by the Pakistani state, which he says is dominated by the Punjab. These experts say the perception that the operation in Karachi is largely against MQM is gaining ground because

while raids are being carried out, documents and data are being collected, many people have been arrested, yet there is no further progress against any notable leaders of any other political party.
The panic in the Sindh government against the raids on Civic Centre and the Karachi Building Authority, with threats issued against the FIA and the federal government reflects the serious concern in PPP ranks where these raids and evidence may lead. The PPP, however, rejected all allegations of any wrongdoing on part of its leaders.
But the security agencies and Rangers have responded to the Sindh government accusations, almost bringing a situation of a deadlock in Sindh. Yet the impression that the Karachi operation is “across the board” has not yet been followed up by strong visible action against other parties and only the MQM has been a focused target.
Mr Hussain has apparently burnt all his boats in Pakistan but that has left his party inside Pakistan in a big quagmire. The local leaders cannot justify Mr Hussain’s tirades against the Army, his calls to India for help, his appeal to UN and Nato to intervene. If they do they will be quickly apprehended as they are in Pakistan. If they don’t they will have to go underground, stay quiet or quit the party.
Having said that turbulent times await the MQM but a more challenging task for the Army and the Rangers is to quickly dispel the impression that only MQM is their target. Others have to be netted in and once that happens, the MQM case will automatically become too weak to defend.

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