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August 13, 2015

Options and consequences for MQM, others


August 13, 2015

DUBAI: What are the options left for the MQM after it quit the democratic system with en bloc resignations?
Street agitation and confrontation with the law enforcement agencies is one obvious option but that will bring more turbulence, more violence and possibly more killings if things get out of hand. What will MQM achieve as the authorities cannot let the operation forfeit all the gains achieved so far?
Peaceful and non-intrusive protests will not create enough pressure on the Rangers and the establishment to pull back as after so many successes in Karachi, withdrawal and letting things go back to their pre-operation status is no option. It would be seen as a surrender, which no one can afford or allow.
After the rush of blood by the MQM and to some extent by the Speaker of the National Assembly, will the MQM wait for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to open negotiations to persuade it to stay in the system? After such a major step in an almost conclusive manner, this may only be an after-thought, not a well thought-out strategy.
If after the legal wrangling that may be politically generated to provide space for negotiations with MQM, the resignations become final and by-polls are announced, will it be an option to contest again in an atmosphere, which is heavily loaded against the party.
Mr Altaf Hussain told Geo TV that he would take a decision on whether to contest the by-elections or not after observing the mood of the establishment. That means he is hoping that enough pressure may be generated to force the Rangers to take some steps in the reverse direction.
Basically MQM chief is increasing pressure on PM Nawaz Sharif to intervene and stop the Rangers and FIA and others from acting against the MQM.
But Mr Sharif is fully committed to carry out the operation to its logical end, as has been reiterated by him and Army Chief General Raheel Sharif multiple times.
The government ministers also seem to have diverging views and, as reports

suggested, the Speaker moved fast after a meeting with Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan and started showing signs of retraction after meeting Defence Minister Khawaja Asif.
So the matter may drag on until PM Nawaz Sharif has time to consider his options and find a way to handle the crisis that MQM has tried to create by quitting the assemblies.
MQM Chief Altaf Hussain has also hinted that he could take back the resignations if his demands were met but it appears a lot of legal issues and questions will be raised and the matter may go to superior courts.
The issue would be whether the required procedure was adopted or rules were bent to accommodate the MQM, after the negative repercussions of the move started becoming apparent for the political system and the Nawaz government.
The fear is that if MQM goes out and some others like the PTI also decide to hit when the iron is hot and announce they are leaving the assemblies, the stage would be set for almost a general election.
PTI has been in a state of confusion on whether to sit in parliament or stay out. Imran Khan has challenged many times that he was ready for re-elections.
Thus key decisions then will have to be taken by Imran Khan and Asif Ali Zardari and all will depend on their responses. So far both are intriguingly quiet.

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