By Adnan Gill
Karachi is the financial heart of Pakistan that generates about 65% of revenue mainly through taxes, customs and surcharges. It's world's twentieth largest metropolitan spread over 3,530 km². It hosts a whopping 12.5 million of humanity consisting of a rainbow of ethnicities. Karachi’s racial distribution is: Urdu/Mohajirs 48.52%; Punjabi 13.94%; Sindhi 7.22%; Pashto 11.42%; Balochi 4.34%; Saraiki 2.11%; others: 12.4%. Ideally, ethnic diversity generates ingenuity and creativity that translates into positive progress, like in the case of the United States. However to Karachi’s misfortune, racial diversity has only brought it a never ending curse. But the fault doesn't lay with the Karachiites, who happen to be the victims; rather it’s the politicians with their vested interests who should be blamed for its volatile curse.
In good old days, Karachi used to be known as the ‘city of lights,’ now it’s known as the ‘city of guns and violence.’ By large, till the 70s, Karachi used to be comparatively peaceful, but that changed when by propping up a new party in Sindh, the establishment decided to marginalize the solid hold of PPP in at least Karachi and Hyderabad. In 1984, under the patronage of Altaf Hussain (a taxi driver turned politician) ‘Muhajir Qaumi Movement’ (MQM) was created. The name itself suggested the party was established to exploit the sensitivities of the Urdu-speaking Pakistanis. It took 13 years for the party to realize that its name was a giveaway of its intentions and limitations. Consequently, in 1997, to shed its image of a racist party, it renamed itself to ‘Muttahida Qaumi Movement’.
However, its actions spoke louder than its politically correct name. Almost from the very beginning, MQM was a militant party that believed in doing its business at the barrel of gun. Based on the racial lines, MQM established no-go-areas and also opened up a number of torture cells around the city. MQM is frequently cited for its involvement in terrorist and mafia activities, especially within the city of Karachi. It is widely believed, it generates funds through carjackings, land grabbing, kidnappings, drug running, extortion (Bhatta), etc to sustain its absconder leadership hiding in London. To this day targeted killings remain its most favored modus operandi to silence its critics/opponents, and to put down dissensions within its own ranks. MQM is also documented for making remarkable gains in successive elections through rigging and naked violence.
Within a span of one year, MQM (a diehard ally of General Musharraf) twice demonstrated its unremarkable ability to turn Karachi into the killing fields. On May 12, 2007, thousands of cameras captured its workers massacring at least 40 unsuspected Karachiites, who were on their way to welcome the Chief Justice of Pakistan. A message was sent: stay out! Karachi belongs to only MQM. Then later, on April 9, 2008, upon learning their insatiable appetite for lucrative ministries would not be satisfied; MQM once again set their workers loose on Karachi. This time, they decided to target General Musharraf's nemesis, the Lawyers. Approximately, 40 civilians were shot and 12 were killed; out of which 5 victims were burnt alive in the lawyers’ chambers. As they shot their hapless victims, the killers chanted, ‘Karachi kis ka, MQM ka’. The message was: Altaf Hussain follows up on his threats and Sindh will not be allowed to function without MQM in the government. Every time MQM quenches its thirst with the blood of the innocent, ironically it raises hue cry, that it's them who were the victims. Their crocodile tears do not impress anyone anymore, because everyone knows that not a leaf is moved without Altaf's orders. Considering their iron grip on Karachi, their fabricated lies make their hue and cry look nothing more than regurgitated drama.
The argument whether MQM has become a fascist party has gone beyond hearsay. Virtually every human rights organization, Canadian government, and now even European Union's Election Observation Mission (EOM) has recognized MQM to be a militant organization. In its final report on the 2008 elections, EOM clearly stated how MQM implants racist sentiments, “The agenda of this largely secular party focuses on issues relating to regional autonomy and opposition to Punjabi dominance.” Then the report went over MQM's taste for violence, “The MQM has a reputation for strong control, sometimes including the use of force, violence and intimidation.” (Page 15)
Virtually every political pundit and every politician is of the opinion: bring MQM into mainstream politics. Frankly, it's exactly the wrong approach. Why? The answer is quite obvious, but for some reason it eludes the brightest political minds. It is a common knowledge that MQM is more than a political party; rather it's a cult that revolves around Altaf Hussain. If you remove Altaf, MQM will be left with only hundreds hooligans, also known as the party workers. Unlike other mainstream parties, like PPP and PML-N, the MQM has no middle tier or lower tier leadership. The joke is if you take away the phone, on which Altaf addresses his followers cum hostages, the party will cease to exist. The reality is not that far removed from the joke. Since Lord Altaf and his absconding cronies are luxuriously living abroad, the only way for them to issue their edicts is through phones and/or other electronic medium; sever the lines and the party will be left paralyzed, like a decapitated snake. Because the sole purpose of its leaderless-foot-soldiers in Pakistan is to enforce Lord Altaf's decrees to the letter.
However, what perplexes one's mind is the question, why no one in the mainstream media (electronic and newspapers) ever puts extremely vital questions to the MQM supporters:
1. Why the MQM is allowed to remain under the iron-grip of a British citizen, namely Altaf Hussain, who has also repeatedly renounced the creation of Pakistan?
2. Do they think Altaf Hussain should be tried for the crime of high-treason for renouncing the creation of Pakistan, asking the Indians to intervene in the Pakistani affairs, and that too in front of an Indian audience?
3. Why doesn't MQM leadership, especially Altaf Hussain return to Pakistan? His party was in the local, central and the Sindh governments for the last five years. The Army chief cum the President is also their ally; then what is he afraid of? Why these absconders haven't set a foot in Pakistan in last 18 years? Why don't they show their faces to their constituents?
4. If Altaf Hussain can fly over Pakistan to land in India to renounce the creation of Pakistan then would it have been too much trouble for him to land in Pakistan too to see his constituents for even couple of hours?
5. Why doesn’t MQM leadership renounce violence instead of issuing threats every other day?
6. Why do the Canadian government, EOM and the human rights organizations call MQM a terrorist party?
7. Do they think Mohajir Pakistanis deserve a competent and sincere leadership, or would they rather remain hostages to MQM's racist leaders, whose only job is to dictate the commands of a British national/agent at the gun-point?
One can understand why the media persons are afraid to put such questions directly to Lord Altaf, because their very lives may depend on his mood, but it's nothing short of hypocrisy of media for not laying these questions to the constituents or supporters of the MQM. Nevertheless, it is established that MQM/Altaf Hussain are synonymous with terror. Hardly a day goes by when Altaf doesn't issue threats, which reinforces the fact that he does not and will not part ways with politics of terror. Altaf is set in his ways of running MQM in the same manner as a Don of Mafia does. It is also obvious that the party’s survival depends on Altaf, and politics of division/racism and terrorism. Therefore, it is a totally useless idea to try to bring a person specific militant party into mainstream. What we need to do is, declare MQM as a defunct party, and most importantly to bring Karachiites back under the wings of mainstream parties, like they were before the MQM’s vicious reign of terror. If for any reason the Pakistani Mohajirs are skeptical of the so-called ‘Punjabi dominance’ then they can join parties like the PPP, which is well known for being open to the minorities and had won seats in all provinces.
Pakistan in large, and Karachi in specific, deserves a sigh of relief from MQM’s curse. The only practical way to break Karachi's curse is to read MQM its final rites. May Allah allow the party Dons rest in peace and luxury on Her Majesty's treasury.