It was in 1980s, when Karachi witnessed the last Shia-Sunni violence. Many people moved out to different neighborhood as hatred was going up. Suddenly Karachi saw the rise of MQM, a party which was made for the rights and political representation for the “Muhajirs”, the migrants from India after the partition, in Pakistan. Karachi started to witness the harmony among the two sects after the formation of MQM.

Karachi with the importance of her gateway and economic hub has the most educated population; mostly middle-class Muhajirs. The demographic and economic importance makes the city politically important for many forces. Before the emergence of MQM, the vote bank of Karachi was clearly divided among the religious and moderate forces yet the city was deprived from her rights.

During years of operation, while MQM leadership was exiled or on the run, Karachi was left with a vacuum which was filled by the extremist groups through madrassas. Many analysts say that Establishment brought them in the city against MQM. Once again, people of Karachi witnessed the influx of extremist elements and sectarian killings started in the city. The killing spree of Shia professionals started, and many doctors and engineers fell victims to sectarian violence.

On the other side, after bearing two consecutive operations by two different governments run by PML-N and PPP, Altaf Hussain started rebuilding MQM from London.

Musharraf toppled Nawaz led government in 1999 and in 2001 he supported the “war on terror” which started to weaken the extremist elements in many parts of Pakistan, including Karachi. Once again, MQM returned to mainstream politics by winning general and local body elections in urban Sindh. The party developed Karachi and once again Altaf Hussain brought MQM back in the politics with his vision of unity within the party. His political acumen brought his strength back on the streets of Karachi and people once again came out to vote for MQM. Haqiqi vanished into thin air while some of its workers and leaders returned back offering apologies, which once again jolted the establishment.

In last twenty-year many criminal forces reared their ugly heads just in order to destabilize the city. Crime rate of Karachi went up due to criminal gangs and city started losing the lights and businesses.

Unfortunately, in 2010, Dr. Imran Farooq, the convener of MQM and a loyalist to Altaf Hussain since the formation of APMSO, was killed in London. Many analyzed that Imran Farooq left MQM years ago and was planning to launch another group of MQM. His murder started to raise another drama of split within the party, while Altaf Hussain was being blamed for killing Dr. Farooq. Altaf Hussain and MQM showed complete support with the London Police during murder investigation. Dr. Farooq’s father and wife, who also served the party as workers and provincial representative, showed their trust in Altaf Hussain’s leadership.

While Altaf Hussain and MQM in London were facing the investigation of Dr. Farooq’s murder and money-laundering cases, BBC launched a documentary in which they introduced an expelled worker of MQM Naeem Ahmad. Naeem blamed Altaf Hussain for Dr. Farooq’s murder and announced to launch another group called MQM (Imran Farooq). His previous record and character couldn’t damage MQM and turned out to be a failed drama.

Currently, Karachi is engulfed with sectarian conspiracy but this time some religious terrorist outfits are involved in mayhem. These outfits were banned by Musharraf’s government. However, the unfortunate part of sectarian killings is that most of the killings are happening in MQM dominated areas. The victims from both sides are either supporters or workers of MQM.

In 2008, terrorist organization TTP was infiltrated in Karachi, for which Altaf Hussain warned the then government but they rejected his claim. TTP has controlled the areas where ANP used to have their strongholds. In 2011, CID submitted a report to the then federal government, which said that TTP’s links with extremists groups and with criminal gangs are giving them easy access to the city. Abbas Town, a Shia dominated neighborhood, was hit by an extremist group which took many lives and among those more than 45 victims were Sunnis with Shias but all of them were MQM supporters. The recent support for TTP from JI and PTI and then the nexus of many elements against MQM shows that establishment created many forces to crush MQM.

That is why Altaf Hussain, who is the sign of strength and unity of MQM and a guarantor of middle-class representation in politics, has always been a thorn for the establishment. Minus Altaf Hussain and divided mandate of Karachi will push the city into greater violence and chaos.

The author is a social worker based in USA.

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