Sunday, June 24, 2007

‘Bhai’ You are Tubed!

by Adnan Gill

It is said, a picture is often worth a thousand words. Now we can say a video-clip is often worth a million words. In this day and age of satellite TV channels, cell phone cameras, and internet portals like YouTube.com information remains only seconds away. The blogging revolution gave birth to thousands of political pundits. Digital-Cameras and YouTube are threatening the monopoly once enjoyed by the global TV-news giants like CNN, BBC, and ABC news. Now, anyone, anywhere on the globe can and does become a news reporter in an instance. All one needs is a digital camera and access to internet, and one can change the fortunes of many.

Not since the advent of the camera, and then satellite-TV, has any other information medium ruined the political fortunes of so many politicians as YouTube is. How can one forget the ‘Macaca’ moment of the Virginia Republican Senator George Allen? During the 2006 Senate elections, his reelection dreams were virtually assured till he was ‘tubed’. In other words, while pandering to his conservative constituency, the Senator casually passed a racist remark against an American-born man of Indian heritage. Before the Senator could catch his balance his derogatory remark caught on a video camera was posted on the YouTube site. Millions were disgusted by the video. His constituents voted him out of office at the first opportunity. That was the end of the Senator’s political carrier.

Altaf Hussain (‘Bhai’/brother) -- a taxi driver turned politician and the founder of Muttahida Quami Movement; MQM, previously also known as Muhajir Quami Movement -- and his political party Muttahida Quami Movement are also meeting Senator Allen’s fate. They made a horrendous political miscalculation, thinking as always, they will deal with a political situation with force and cover it up with their lies, followed by a vicious propaganda campaign. But only, if it was that simple. They forgot that digital-cameras were documenting the mayhem moment by moment and blow by blow. No sooner, the MQM unleashed their violent attacks on the opposition parties, that the images of events were captured and posted on the internet. To the horror of MQM leadership, millions of viewers tapped into the countless video clips of the May 12, Karachi violence. There was no doubt left in anybody's mind as to who was responsible for that unforgivable day. The days of bending and twisting the truth, and brushing the filth under the carpet were gone. YouTube effectively took the options of lie and deceit away from the MQM leadership. This time, Altaf Hussain and MQM were also effectively ‘tubed’.

In a bazaar rejoinder published in a May 28, Pakistan Link’s Opinion/Letters section, Altaf Bhai blamed any and everyone but his own party for the carnage that took place in Karachi on May 12 [1]. Like a person aloof of reality and as a soothsayer, strangely, he blamed the violence on some “secretly hidden terrorists in the Pakhtoon community” and opposition parties shooting their own workers.

While defending his party's severely tarnished image, Altaf Bhai first asked the readers a rhetorical question, "If MQM had planned to create unrest or disorder then why would hundreds and thousands of MQM workers and supporters have participated in the rally along with their mothers, sisters, sons, daughters and other family members?" This very reasonable question will be answered later on.

Then, as if he was insulting the readers’ intellect, he proceeded with his unfathomable explanation as to when and how the violence started. As if narrating scenes out of a Bollywood thriller, he said, "on 12th May at around 12 noon as soon as the information was broadcast... that the plane carrying the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had landed at the Karachi Airport, the conspiring elements with the help of secretly hidden terrorists in the Pakhtoon community areas came on to the streets and started indiscriminate firing on the MQM rallies." He further added, as a result of firing "the MQM rallies/processions instead of moving forward started retreating back towards their respective areas. At the Sharah-e-Faisal on Natha Khan Goth the terrorists of ANP and PPP appeared on the streets and opened indiscriminate firing on the oncoming rallies – then the MQM workers immediately formed a long queue of male workers and asked the women, elders and children to run away from there to wherever they could."

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of realities, it might be prudent to browse over few facts and set some timelines. In an interview with the GEO-News, on May 12 at 13:24 (Pakistan Standard Time), Chief Justice’s lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan commented on the violence going on in Karachi at the time [2]. At 14:58 (PST), GEO-News reported there were already 15 dead and 45 injured [3]. By 15:30 (PST), AAJ-TV’s offices were under heavy gunfire by the MQM gunmen waving their party flags, as other party workers filmed their attacks [4].

At the time, since Altaf Bhai was not present in Karachi, it is safe to assume that his explanations were based on what was captured by the electronic media and/or the information provided by his friends and party workers. Either way, his claim that the MQM rally attended by children, women and elders was attacked after Chief Justice had landed at the Karachi Airport doesn't hold water; because even three hours after the alleged firing started his party's minister Farooq Sattar was still addressing and leading a peaceful MQM rally. As it happened on May 12, at 15:05 (PST), while the dead bodies were piling up in Jinah Hospital, MQM Minister Babar Ghauri was giving an interview to GEO-News on a bridge overlooking Sharah-e-Faisal as the MQM procession coming from Guru Mundir was passing underneath [5]. The minister claimed that the participants of the rally were not even aware of the violence going on in rest of Karachi. There is simply no evidence that the children and women attending the MQM rally were fired upon, or were protected by the human-wall of MQM workers. Considering the evidence captured by the electronic media it can be argued, that either both his own minister and the TV cameras were lying, or Altaf Bhai was deliberately distorting the facts.

Later, as Altaf Bhai labeled the ANP and PPP workers as ‘terrorists’, he painted another strange and highly improbable scenario in which he claimed that it were “the armed terrorists of ANP and PPP” who shot at each other, and were “murdered and injured“ by their own party workers. He vainly argued, that ” the armed terrorists of ANP and PPP... started moving forward until they reached the Star Gate near the Airport. Another armed group of terrorists appeared from the Natha Khan Goth and came on the main road and started setting the vehicles alight... The second armed group of terrorists moved further forward and continued with their firing... As a result of the indiscriminate firing of this second armed terrorists group the members of the first armed group of terrorists were shot at – some of them died and others were injured. Similarly, as a result of indiscriminate firing from the second armed terrorists group armed terrorists of the first group belonging to the PPP and ANP were murdered and injured”.

On the contrary, at 14:27 (PST), GEO -TV caught several men -- alongside the MQM flags -- on the COD Bridge indiscriminately firing on buses transporting opposition workers [6]. Later on, in a press conference convened by the PPP parliamentarian Sherry Rehman, it was disclosed that the attack caught by the GEO -TV cameras in fact took place on the COD Bridge and Sharah-e-Faisal Crossing [7]. Coincidently, around 13:48 (PST), another instance of MQM workers firing their weapons off a flyover was caught by the cameras of Sindh-TV [8]. Clearly, MQM gunmen were holding positions on majority of the flyover bridges in order to hold the tactical advantage of higher ground; which is a clue that the violence was premeditated. Once again, the cameras contradicted Altaf Bhai’s caricature of the Karachi carnage.

Midway through his rejoinder, considering his party is the ruling party in Karachi and Sindh, Altaf Bhai posed an odd question. He inquired,” WHERE WERE POLICE AND RANGERS DURING THE BLOODBATH?” By asking this question Altaf Bhai indirectly acknowledged the failure of his party’s ability to provide safety and security to the citizens of Karachi. Though, he gave an extremely disappointing answer, it was rather another futile attempt to twist and cover-up the reality than an answer. He answered,” It is very difficult and hard to find the answer to this question in the tragedy of 12th May.” Then he went on a wild-tangent, commenting on the deaths of Pakistani political leaders like Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan, as if the alleged questions surrounding their deaths were somehow related to the Karachi carnage. He concluded his answer,”We too are waiting for answers to such questions as to why the Police and Rangers did not arrive on time at the murder of innocent people on 12May 2007?”

If it wasn’t embarrassing enough that the founder and undisputed leader of the ruling party of Karachi and Sindh was asking such a question; ironically, to solve this mystery, all Altaf Bhai had to do was to check with his own lieutenants before presenting the question. On GEO -TV’s ‘Capital Talk’ show his MQM Minister Wasim Akhtar admitted that he ordered the blockades of roads with trucks and cargo containers, and he was the one who ordered the law enforcement agencies not to carry any weapons and to act as only a buffer [9]. Once again, it’s becoming crystal-clear that either Mr. Hussain doesn’t corroborate his storey with his lieutenants before shooting from hip, or he remains oblivious to the ground realities.

Finally, Altaf Bhai closed his rejoinder with the following words, “Your exiled Pakistani brother, Altaf Hussain”. And with these words he unraveled the aura of his honesty and trustworthiness.

Altaf Bhai might be under the un-explainable impression that somehow he was exiled by someone or some government, but nothing could be further from the truth. In early 1992, he left Pakistan for Britain on his own freewill and under the pretext of medical treatment. Unlike, Nawaz Sharif, the ex-Prime Minister who was sent into exile by President Musharraf, no one/no government has ever sent Altaf Bhai into exile. If anything, it was he who chose to live in self-exile by accepting the British citizenship. And he still chooses to live in the so-called exile, despite the fact that his MQM is an important partner in the Musharraf’s ruling coalition in Sindh, as well as the federal government. Just because Altaf Bhai refuses to believe in the creation Pakistan doesn’t mean Pakistanis exiled him, rather he is the one who still rejects Pakistan.

Altaf Hussain, whose speeches are reminiscent of Hitler’s speeches, is said to rule his party with fist, just like Hitler did [10]. Critics allege that Altaf Bhai practices fascism and is deeply unpatriotic; therefore, he should be charged with high treason, or at minimum, should be expelled from Pakistani politics. His critics are correct when they call him unpatriotic, because in 2001, he indeed declared the creation of Pakistan, a blunder. While visiting India he gave an interview to the Times of India in which he said, "Partition of the subcontinent was the biggest blunder in the history of mankind” [11]. Again, in 2002, on ARY-Digital show Altaf Bhai once again shamelessly insisted that the creation of Pakistan was a mistake [12][13]. Why MQM doesn't replace its founding-leader who doesn't even believe in the existence of Pakistan is beyond redemption, understanding and belief.

It is no wonder that the Sindh Chief Minister Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim, a member of the ruling coalition that includes MQM, reiterated his puzzling and unbelievable stance that conducting an inquiry into the May 12 incidents was not necessary. “The law and order situation would get worse [if] we instituted an inquiry,” he said [14].

Altaf Bhai and his party needs to grasp the reality, that in this day and age of digital-cameras and YouTube, one cannot misconstrue the truth and get away with it. The truth is all over the internet for everyone to see. They need to come to terms with the reality that their obsolete propaganda tactics do not work anymore, or else, they will be marginalized.


Key Sources:

[1] Who Is Responsible for the Tragedy of 12th May? By Altaf Hussain: http://www.pakistanlink.com/Opinion/2007/May07/25/01.HTM
[2] Aitzaz Ahsan's comments on the violence going on in Karachi: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vf2jw44kSXw&mode=related&search=
[3] GEO-News reported there were 15 dead and 45 injured: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JT39quPNJMU&mode=related&search=
[4] AAJ-TV’s offices under heavy gunfire: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=METr2vAtObs
[5] MQM Minister Babar Ghauri’s interview with the GEO-News alongside the MQM procession: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKoP5Ht_HiA
[6] GEO-News reported their reporter also came under fire: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7tJKplKSzA&mode=related&search=
[7] Sherry Rehman’s press conference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uRwMxMm2TU&mode=related&search=
[8] Sindh-TV breaking news footage: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_y05UmyO0Q
[9] Wasim Akhtar admitted that he ordered the blockades of roads: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gt4DPf-A9ok&mode=related&search=
[10] Altaf slams attack on Geo office: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVaQ8VzFQwE
[11] A Muhajir's Prayer; 22 Jul, 2001: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/494482109.cms
[12] Altaf Hussain's exclusive interview on ARY Digital Channel with P.J. Mir - 16 May 2002: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjKZvc-4Zik
[13] Partition of India a Blunder - Altaf Hussain: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMSVYTgFIPA
[14] No inquiry into May 12 needed, CM reiterates: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2007%5C05%5C26%5Cstory_26-5-2007_pg12_6


COURTESY: Defence Journal

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