This time Altaf has gone way too far


Editorial

That Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief has bitten off more than he can chew or this time he has gone too far is a fact that has found its best expression in its national leadership’s inability to endorse or to defend what he had said in his London diatribe.

Not only are they found lacking any plausible response to one of the most awkward situations that their party leader has created for them to deal with, they are also largely speechless when asked whether or not they acquiesce to the path their party chief has chosen.

Asking UN and Nato troops to intervene, and taunting India for not helping stop the “Mohajir bloodshed”, in his address to the party workers in Dallas, Texas, casts serious doubts over Altaf’s ability to head his party any longer because his remarks that he made in response to the Karachi operation by Rangers are generally found to be utterly excessive, unreasonable, unequal, unbalanced and disproportionate.

Addressing a press conference, the interior minister Chaudhry Nisar’s body language too betrayed the enormity of the challenge that the London-based leadership of MQM has posed to the PML-N government; he was seen struggling to articulate a befitting government response.

Announcing that the government has decided to send to the British government a ‘legal reference’ against his speech in which he used extremely objectionable language against Pakistan’s armed forces, the interior minister said: “We are examining the speech as a disclosure of attempting to abet waging of a war against Pakistan and its institutions. The speech is an admission by the London office of Altaf Hussain, and not the MQM, of a conspiracy against Pakistan to deprive it of its sovereignty and integrity.”

It is good to note that the country’s establishment has decided to wean the party away from its London-based leadership as Nisar repeatedly made it clear that he saw no reason to doubt the patriotism or integrity of any Pakistan-based MQM leader or worker.

It is however, quite difficult to predict whether this strategy will play out towards overcoming the Altaf challenge at this point in time because he continues to be the undisputed leader of MQM. His core constituency does not comprise those who are representing MQM in parliament; it consists of a very large number of sectors in-charge, unit chiefs, activists, workers and sympathisers-many of whom are behind bars following the launch of the Karachi operation.

Nisar raised an important point at his presser with regard to MQM’s complaints, saying that it is only MQM that has been making a hue and cry while other parties have preferred to remain silent despite the arrest of their workers.

It is here that the interior minister shows a lack of appreciation of politics in urban Sindh where a quota system for government jobs still persists despite the passage of as many as 42 years. Moreover, Karachi continues to register over six percent population growth rate mainly due to influx of ‘economic migrants’ from various parts of the country, particularly southern Punjab, against less than 3 percent in rest of country, causing a serious strain on its civic infrastructure in the absence of any new productive investment in its amenities and infrastructure.

Lumping MQM with Sunni Tehrik and even Awami National Party is nothing but a negation of the sway that that MQM holds in urban Sindh ever since its emergence in the 1980s. Its convincing victory in a recent Karachi by-election where its candidate defeated Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf candidate with a huge margin during the ongoing Karachi operation is a testament to this fact.

The government and establishment therefore must look into the genuine grievances of MQM that it had made with regard to arrests, extra-judicial killings, and disappearances of its workers. An impartial inquiry into such allegations is warranted by the enormity of the challenge that Altaf’s diatribe has created for the civil/military establishment. In the meantime, the government must proceed with its plan to file a “legal reference” against the London-based leadership of MQM.

Source: Business Recorder

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