Trying times for the MQM?


WEB DESK: A prominent MQM dissident, Syed Mustafa Kamal, who for the last three years had been living in Dubai after parting ways with his party, suddenly returned home on Thursday, accompanied by an ex-deputy convenor of the party, Anis Qaimkhani, to launch a blistering attack on the MQM supremo and his former leader, Altaf Hussain. Addressing a news conference soon after arrival he let out a barrage of allegations against Hussain.

There was nothing new though in much of what he had to say, including the grave allegation that “Altaf Hussain has links with RAW [Indian intelligence agency].” In fact, the BBC aired a report last June, making the same claim based on an interview a senior MQM leader, Tariq Mir, had given to the London Metropolitan Police investigating the money laundering case involving Hussain. In it, Mir is said to have revealed that his party chief “was getting money from India … the Indian government funded us because they thought it was good to support us”. Highly scandalous as the purported revelation was, no one in Islamabad tried to get to the truth.

In fact, if Kamal is to be believed, the previous PPP government’s interior minister, Rehman Malik, knew about the alleged RAW connection back in 2010. Malik has, however, denied Kamal’s assertion. Presumably, the alleged connection went farther back than that, and the former military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf, should have known it through his intelligence sources when he sought MQM’s support for himself. Which merits the question, why did he do that? Allegations, of course, remain allegations unless proven through proper legal process.

The timing and the manner of the two dissidents’ arrival lends credence to stories circulating in the media for a while that the establishment is working on a minus-Altaf Hussain-MQM formula. As it is, the party’s charismatic leader is in poor health and facing a murder and a money laundering investigation in London. Meanwhile, MQM activists, in disarray because of the Rangers’ crackdown, could be looking for refuge. Strengthening suspicions, that this is a move scripted by the powers that be, are several pointers, such as the welcoming wall chalking in the city before the duo’s arrival; protective measures around their residence-cum-office; and equally if not more important, Qaimkhani has been an absconder in a terrorism case. It is fair to assume he had some kind of an assurance of safety.

In fact, responding to a journalist’s question about Qaimkhani’s previous position as in charge of the MQM’s purported militant wing and hence complicity in the party’s alleged violent crimes, Kamal came to his companion’s defence saying the militant wing was run from London. In other words, he has an alibi. In his address Kamal – previously a political face of MQM who earned much respect for his services as the Nazim of Karachi – launched his party. And in a significant indication that he is hoping to cause desertions in the old party he sought amnesty for the MQM ‘militants’ who, according to him, had been misguided by the leadership.

Unfortunately, there is an unsavoury history of successive governments’ muddled policy towards the MQM. In the 1990s both the PPP and the PML-N took turns to order crackdowns on the party and then to enter into a political alliances with it. It remains to be seen if the present scene is a repeat of the same. Needless to say, whether it is the MQM or any of the other political parties maintaining militant wings, these must be eliminated. There should be zero-tolerance for violence. As for the present case, these are trying times for the MQM. A lot depends on how its activists, supporters and sympathisers view Mustafa Kamal’s allegations against the party supremo Altaf Hussain.

Source: Business Recorder