Najam Sethi Latest Article “MQM is finally Outplayed”
Article Source The Friday Times Zulfiqar Mirza’s anti-MQM Quran-swearing drama last week was both unexpected and mesmerizing. But Mustafa Kamal’s belated retort this week was a damp squib.
Zulfiqar Mirza’s anti-MQM Quran-swearing drama last week was both unexpected and mesmerizing. But Mustafa Kamal’s belated retort this week was a damp squib. Mirza’s lips curled spitefully and his mouth spat venom. But Kamal couldn’t decide whether to parry with his heart or thrust with his mind. In one breath, Mirza attacked the MQM as a “terrorist party” and Altaf Hussain as its “deranged anti-Pakistan leader”. But Kamal threw away the game by blowing hot against Mirza and cold against the PPP and Asif Zardari. Mirza was playing on the national, regional, religious and ethnic support of the PMLN and ANP, and sympathies of the JI, JUI and PTI. But Kamal was reduced to hurling threats about the unspoken consequences of pushing the “muhajirs” to the wall. Mirza emboldened the media to weigh in with its own fears about the MQM and won it over to his side. But Kamal couldn’t hide his anger against the media’s “pseudo-intellectuals and Yahjooj Mahjooj”. In the event, Mirza was totally believable while Kamal lacked any credibility at all.
Kamal should have ignored Altaf Hussain’s purported letter to Tony Blair shortly after 9/11. But he chose to prove it was a fake because the MQM’s London office is in Edgware and not Colindale (as noted on it) and insisted that the two locations were as far apart as earth and sky. A Tube Map of London put paid to that – the two stations are two stops and five minutes apart on the Northern Line. A quick visit to the official MQM website reveals a statement by Altaf Hussain in October 2000 bearing the Colindale address. Kamal also couldn’t make up his mind whether to disclaim the first part of the letter wherein the MQM is offering its services to the international community or to claim credit in the second part for the fair and just political demands it is making on its erstwhile friends. And removing the letter from their official website, as the MQM has now done, won’t help.
Kamal erred by constantly warning the media and the MQM’s political foes “not to push the Muhajirs against the wall”. There was such a veiled menace in his threat that one was instantly reminded of all the conspiracy theories alleging its secret US-backed Jinnahpur agenda. The Muhajir card ill-serves the Muttahida’s long-term mission statement to become a national multi-ethnic party with roots in the other provinces. Indeed, its manifesto emphasizes its middle-class values and anti-feudal sentiments rather than its historical migratory baggage.
Kamal ignored several key allegations made by Mirza. He did not deny that Mrs Nasreen Jalil had written letters to various foreign ambassadors in Islamabad protesting MQM’s innocence and exhorting the international community to side with the “Muhajirs” of Pakistan. He did not deny the allegation of an MQM hand in the coldblooded murder of Wali Babar of Geo/Jang Group. He did not defend the CPLC chairman, Ahmad Chinoy, whose Khidmat e Khalq Foundation is accused of allowing its ambulance-vans to transport dead victims of MQM terrorism as well as arms and ammunitions for MQM cadres and mafias. He did not rise to the defense of “Ishtiaq Policewala” who is alleged to be a ruthless target killer on behalf of the MQM. And so on.
Zulfiqar Mirza, meanwhile, is continuing to shoot his mouth off, thereby risking putting his foot in it. The “Quran drama” cannot consciously be revisited again and again as a political ploy without putting people off. Nor is it wise to thump one’s chest and proclaim one’s great feudal land-holding antecedents in an increasingly urban and alienated middle-class national environment. Certainly, most Pakistanis are likely to empathize with Kamal for his humble origins as a telephone operator at 90 Azizabad in Karachi who rose to become a good and effective mayor of the teeming and complex city of Karachi than a crony of Mr 10 Per Cent! Of course, it is only a matter of time before he is forgiven by Mr Zardari for his sins and welcomed back into the party as an honourable and brave fellow Sindhi.
The MQM has been unprecedentedly weakened by its recent political somersaults. It can’t run with the PPP and hunt with its opponents. It cannot call for a national anti-feudal revolution one day and reassert its “mohajirism” the next. Nor can the MQM sustain its anti-media tirades and threats in this day and age of over 100 channels and 60 million viewers. It must come to terms with the fact that the demography of Karachi has changed significantly in the past twenty years and will not allow the MQM to claim a monopoly of power over the city.
Therefore it would be wise on MQM’s part to act swiftly and join the PPP government so that it is not caught in the crosshairs of Zulfiqar Mirza and the media. Most important, the MQM should play more than its part in restoring peace to Karachi since it now stands to lose the most from fomenting violence as political strategy.