“The object of oratory is not truth,

but persuasion.”

–Macaulay

“A little rebellion now and then . . . is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government.”

–Jefferson

MQM always had an image problem. Most of the negative image carried by MQM was due to its regimentation and fierce ethnicism. Then a long but correct journey was undertaken by the MQM and it graduated from Muhajar Qoumi Movement to Mutahida Qoumi Movement. Efforts were put in place by the leadership of the MQM to join mainstream politics and they tried to establish the party in all of the four provinces of the country. While many people remained skeptical about the motives of MQM, some people in Punjab were receptive to the ideas floated by MQM which resulted in the swelling of its ranks. Then the incident of October 12 occurred which instantaneously resulted in the shrinking of the MQM back to the two urban centers of Sindh and ever since it has remained like that. Altaf Hussein’s recent speech in which he floated the idea of Sindh number 1 and Sindh number 2 was immediately rejected by all the mainstream parties of the country. The nationalist parties of Sindh went to the extent of challenging the MQM in the streets. This could have resulted in an ugly and dangerous situation but sanity prevailed and the call for strike issued by nationalist parties of Sindh as called off at the last minute. Altaf Hussein’s idea that the Urdu speaking community in Karachi and Hyderabad were not being treated well does not hold water because during the long rule of General Pervez Musharraf, these cities were controlled by MQM and they enjoyed power to the full utilizing the massive funds that were made available to them. It was during this period that the MQM not only consolidated its political power in these urban areas but also multiplied its militant wing which is now being accused of unleashing target killing and other heinous crimes particularly in Karachi. This does not mean that there are no other criminal elements and that some other political parties do not have militant wings as well. But the mere mentioning of MQM instills fear amongst the people; it is an open secret  that in yester year, the MQM thrived on strong arm tactics. One of these tactics was the collection of donations through brute force. However, when the MQM leadership opted for a more pluralistic approach for their party an uneasy calm began to settle in Karachi and Hyderabad.

No wonder the sudden burst of Altaf Hussein talking about Muhajirs alone has created serious doubts about the party’s intentions. Everybody knows that Karachi has embraced people from all over the country and there is a vast number of Seraikis, Baloch and certain areas dominated by the Pashtoons. It is therefore not entirely correct on the part of Mr Altaf Hussein to claim that Karachi and Hyderabad or for that matter Urdu speaking people owe their loyalty to him and that he is their true and only representative. The Jamaat-e-Islami ameer Mr Munawar Hasan has hotly contested this assertion of Altaf Hussain. Everybody understands that all this hullabaloo has been created due to the coming local body elections in which the MQM wants to dominate some urban areas in Sindh and since their plan is disturbed by the government of Sindh, the party has started to exert not only political pressure but also street power for the acceptance of its demands.

On the other hand, the other major force in Sindh, Pakistan Peoples Party wants transparent and free elections and is not willing to accept strong arm tactics that are being exerted by MQM thereby creating a confrontational situation which will create serious problems for the federal government. It is also understood that the decision of the superior courts have resulted in both the Punjab and Sindh governments to declare that local body elections as per their commitment are not possible in the new scenario. In Punjab, the PML-N led government is fearful of a serious backlash from the people because it has not been able to deliver on its promises made during the general elections which has alienated a vast majority of the people from them. In this case the PTI continues to be a fear factor for Mian Nawaz Sharif. On the other hand the Sindh government is not really prepared to hand over the city of Karachi and Hyderabad to the MQM and is trying all political tricks to ensure that PPP should have a share in these two cities so that it could look after their workers’ interest in these two important urban centers. With these contradictions, there is no doubt that the coming local government elections - whenever they are held - will result in a severe test not only for PML-N but also for PPP and MQM.

The writer has been associated with various newspapers as editor and columnist.

Email:zarnatta@hotmail.com