“Main teen tak ginoon ga uss ke baad aap sab bilkul khamosh ho jaayengey”

(I will count up to three after that everyone of you will become silent)

–Altaf Hussain, 1986

Altaf Hussain at MQM’s first convention at Nishtar Park, Karachi,

August 1986 — Courtesy Pictorial Biography of Altaf Hussain

Many years ago, the mohajir community crossed a hastily drawn border and learnt to call a new country their home. Within the span of a generation, same community became the most vocal critic of the state.

It was August 8, 1986, when Nishtar Park was a blur of bodies all attentive to the singular voice of Altaf Hussain. This history is why the MQM is still in his thrall, obeying his every word. Such was the absolute power and control of the man that a quarter of a century later, and now from thousands of miles away, Hussain can still make Karachi fall silent whenever he wanted.

But things have changed. Karachi is now resisting his diktat. Are the demands of the mohajir community met now, after decades of assimilation and adaptation? Should the MQM not have become a national party, or has it already? Becoming mainstream, a party of Sindh and not of mohajirs, has given the MQM wide berth in the region. But the consequence is that Altaf Hussain may be becoming a relic of the past.