Kashmir (Sunatimes) More than ten
years ago a friend from Islamabad told me to join MQM. He said this party will
play an important role in Pakistani politics and might help to resolve the
Kashmir dispute as help. He said they will benefit from your wisdom, know - how
and dedication and you will also get some rewards for the long life struggle
for liberation of Jammu and Kashmir.
I declined this
offer, because I did not agree with the MQM style of politics, although they
have talented people among them and claimed to speak for the poor and less
privileged people. The MQM at that time only represented ethnic politics based
on interests of those who migrated from India to make Pakistan their new home.
Apart from that I did not believe in interfering in internal affairs of
Pakistan which was Kashmir’s neighbour and an occupier. I thought if I take
part in the Pakistani politics, in a way I am justifying their interference in
my country - Jammu and Kashmir
prediction of my friend proved to be correct. Whether the MQM could have
benefitted by me joining them is highly debateable; but I could surely have
benefitted from their influence and tremendous power which they exerted on
politics of Pakistan in the last decade. Ordinary people with little education
and insignificant political standing from Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan
joined the MQM and became Ministers because of the MQM political muscle.
It won’t be
exaggeration to say that the MQM became an important player in the politics of
Pakistan and no government, elected or unelected could function smoothly
without their support. There was absolutely no chance of running Karachi,
financial hub of Pakistan without their good will and active support.
In my opinion,
the MQM has seen its peak. In future, people will only talk of their best days,
as their decline has already started. I have few friends in the ranks of the
MQM and I told them last year that the year 2012 will be very testing for them
and that they would face wrath of very powerful forces which would bring a
disaster to Karachi. During this interaction I further said that there would be
a blood bath in which tens of thousands of innocent people could perish. My
friend said that they were also ready as they have no choice but to fight back
for their survival.
witnessed unprecedented trouble and bloodshed; however my prediction about
disaster descending on Karachi did not prove completely true, as some sane
voices averted the disaster. Apart from that the timing of the disaster did not
suit some powerful political forces; even though they also agreed that the MQM
had to be cut down to a manageable size. I told my friend that powers that be
have decided to reduce mandate and power of the MQM and ‘liberate’ Karachi from
the ‘MQM clutches’; and that few months in time table did not matter much.
weeks ago I met my friend again and we exchanged views about the situation of
Pakistan in general and Karachi in particular. Again I asserted that Karachi
will face a disaster, perhaps a bigger disaster then previously envisaged. Like
on previous occasions he said we don’t want any trouble and bloodshed on streets
of Karachi, but if life is made difficult for us and some forces tried to
eliminate us we won’t have any choice but to fight back. Other people living in
Karachi have choice to go back to their homes as they came here to work and
earn money. Those who came to Karachi to work from Peshawar, Quetta or Multan
can go back to their homes. We don’t have another home to go to, as Karachi is
our only home. Our forefathers left our homes in 1947 and made Karachi our
He said his
childhood memories were not so pleasant, as he had witnessed our people being
oppressed and denied of fundamental rights. He said we came here to become
citizens of new country – Pakistan; but we were not accepted as Pakistanis and
equal to those who did not migrate for Pakistan or suffered for the sake of
Pakistan. We were called ‘Mohajres’, and taunted as people lower in social
status. We have witnessed crackdowns and actions against us and survived; and
if another military action is on the way, we will not let them to destroy our
homes and shatter unity of our community.
I said I know
what happened in 1990s, but it will be different this time. It will be a
different kind of fight and MQM will be attacked from many sides. The MQM will
be presented as ‘evil and a trouble maker’; and all the forces that matter will
unite to destroy power base of the MQM. My friend was confident that they will
be able to fight off all the attacks and survive as a political force; and, if
anything, the MQM, with help of other oppressed people of Pakistan will make
notable progress in other regions.
In my opinion,
being confident is good thing; but to be complacent and to under estimate
strength of foes is very serious mistake. Machiavelli said: ‘Don’t want fight
too much, or the enemy would know your art of war’. The MQM has fought many
wars, and by and large, they have been successful in most of them, although
they suffered badly in some. But the future war in Karachi will produce
different results as it is very meticulously planned and will be more sophisticated.
Its prime objective is not to clear Karachi of arms or terrorists but to end
the MQM hegemony in Karachi and in politics of Pakistan.
Over the past
few months thousands of core terrorists or militants have reached Karachi; and
they have taken their positions. The MQM leadership is not oblivious of these
developments; but I feel they don’t have many options left. Of course they have
hold in certain areas, but those who are aligned against them are better
equipped and better trained and benefit from logistic support which the MQM
Those who are at
the helm of affairs are not fools. They knew if the proposed action took place
while they were in charge, even though theoretically, it would jeopardise their
future political prospects. So they ensured that the pot keeps on boiling but
no stringent action should be taken. Political wisdom dictates why not wait for
few more months and use shoulders of the interim government to target the MQM.
What that means is that the MQM leadership has few more months to put their
house in order and work out a strategy.
One view is that
onslaught on the MQM will be seen as an attack on the Mohajres and will unite
them, as they know only the MQM can safeguard their future and interests. It
is, therefore, possible that the MQM can muster sufficient arms and volunteers
to fight back and protect their interests. However, the question is for how
long a group can fight the state power which will transform the action as a
legal and justified one. Moreover, are the MQM loyalists ready to bite the
bullet, especially those who have enjoyed protocol and privileges for so many
Apart from that,
in my view the hold of Altaf Hussain over MQM is not as strong as it was some
years ago; and that is mainly due to his deteriorating health condition. Despite
appearance of a unified command in the ranks of the MQM, many feel that it is
no longer completely united; and in view of this it is also possible that like
in the past, powers that be might engineer a split in the MQM, and those who
have enjoyed privileges for the past many years could become accomplice. It is
human nature that people who hold public posts and remain in that position for
some years start thinking that they hold these positions of power because of
their own talent and skills and start dreaming for a greater role, especially
when the top man is suffering from health problems.
that makes the fight - back more difficult is the weakening support Altaf
Hussain and the MQM once enjoyed from Britain and other countries. This uneasy
relationship between the British and Altaf Hussain and the MQM make them more
vulnerable, especially when forces against them are united that the MQM must be
controlled and ‘tamed’.
Altaf Hussain put up a brave face in his last speech expressing his anger and
frustration over the boundary changes under the garb of the Supreme Court
order; but critics noted signs of anxiety. However, he was correct in saying that
why Karachi was singled out; and why not apply the same rule in the rest of
Pakistan as well; and that it was responsibility of the Election Commission to make
constituencies. In any case, it was not for the Courts to decide mandate of
political parties, as ‘The people are free to vote any party they love”. But question
is all they free to vote?
hope my prediction proves wrong; and some sane people avert the disaster.
However, if people in power continue to play politics the civil war will ensue
and it will be so destructive that people will forget what happened in Beirut
and Bosnia; and it may leave permanent marks on the geography and body politics
Dr Shabir Choudhry Writer is a political analyst and author of many
books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs.Email:[email protected]