Original Articles

MQM’s illiberal politics and religious rhetoric

Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) which portrays itself as the the only liberal and secular party in Pakistan which opposed religious fanaticism and terrorism and it has been the main ally of the government of Pakistan and the United States in the global war against terrorism-but In recent history, it’s leadership has dominated the use of Islamic political rhetoric in public life creating the perception that the MQM is no more even the secular and moderate political force. Altaf Hussain recently lashes out at US on Aafia issue and says that super power is Allah Pak not America.
MQM’s chief Altaf Hussain Altaf has demanded of the US government and President Barack Obama to declare the conviction of Dr Aafia Siddiqui null and void and send her back to Pakistan.
He said this during a telephonic address from London at a huge rally held against the conviction of Dr Aafia Siddiqui on MA Jinnah Road.
He said 90 per cent people around the globe were against the policies of the United States, urging the Muslim countries to get united and raise their voices wherever Muslims were being suppressed.

Altaf  Hussain condemned the conviction of Dr Aafia strongly and warned that it would not be in the best US interests if they want to gain sympathies. He also said if these policies were not reviewed, it would result in severe hatred against the US government and its citizens all over the world. He declared Dr Aafia Siddiqui  a “symbol of pride”  for the Pakistani nation.
He appealed to all Islamic countries to rise and help not to tarnish the image of Islam and use their all diplomatic channels for the release of Dr Aafia Siddiqui. Punishment of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, a Muslim daughter, is a slap on whole Islamic world, he added.
MQM reaction to this verdict is rather unusual, strange and outlandish. It is bizarre statement because MQM was part of the illegitimate’ government of General Pervaz Musharaf who  handed over Dr Aafia Siddiqui to US. Altaf Hussain’s statement shows that he and his party is also going to join right wing bandwagon.
Nevertheless, it is important to examine or figure out for a while why MQM seems to be losing its [Liberal & secular]color and why it is now using religious political rhetoric[deception] to ensure its survival. There can of course be multiple reasons but in my reckon perhaps the most important reason is changed demographic situation in Karachi.
MQM which is minority party in Sindh but still ruling; is losing its support base even in Karachi. Pakhtoon population has tremendously increased in Karachi in last decade or so due to unstable conditions in Khaber Pakhtunkhawa and in tribal areas. MQM consider that some areas of Karachi are getting out of their control. MQM ofcourse with this situation would not be very happy particularly with this changed demographic situation in karachi. Pakhtoons and Sindhis would of course change the dynamics of karachi politics and would weaken MQM´s grip over karachi. MQM consider that some areas of Karachi are getting out of their control. There are reports in media that MQM forced Pakhtoons to shut down their businesses in certain areas particulary those where majority belong to Urdu speaking community. By doing so again they want to expel Pakhtoon population from these areas. Recent floods caused hundred of thousands of Sindhis and Balochs to move to Karachi where they are residing in some camps and others residing with their relatives etc. MQM fear that majority of new displaced persons would not go back to their native cities and would try to settle in Karachi.  And when MQM refer to ‘Taliban in Karachi!’ it indirectly refer to Pathans and wanted to control their presence or arrival in Karachi somehow as it might disturb the electioneering-balance against the Muhajir community – the prime vote bank of MQM since two decades! That’s how Pakhtoons arrival in Sindh and especially in Karachi is considered by MQM as a serious threat for their survival.
Areas like Baladiya Town, Sher Shah, Orangi Town, Banaras or some joining parts of central district such as areas starting from Abdullah Girls College, soon after Paposhnager grave yard creates safe belts for Pakhtoons.
Second, vicinities such as Lasbella, Patel BaRa, Suhrab Goth just before Gulshan e Maymar then locations such as North Nazimabad from Ship-owner college including Block S where mountains are side by side and Sabzi Mandi are also not considered as heaven for Muhajir community.
Third factor, mostly the transport business (Taxis, Rickshawas, Busses, Wagons, and Trucks) is controlled by Pathans in the city. If they want to decide for strike no one can dictate their terms on to them. Hence the thin traffic in Liaquatabad, Nazimabad, North Karachi, Gulshan e Iqbal or Gulistan e Johar could tell the truth as who is owing to Karachi traffic! Former Nazim Mustafa Kamal efforts to bring green buses in Karachi and preferably Muhajir drivers were given chance to operate them did not add any significant change to Karachi –existing chaotic traffic.
Last but not least, Leyari is out of MQM reach even by being part of Karachi. MQM failed to secure any provincial or national assembly seat from that constituency since ages. The new addition to this ‘kingdom within kingdom’ will be areas near by Hawksbay or Zaman Town or small towns after Abul Hasan Isfphani Road where both Sindhi settlers and Balochi are swiftly taking ground.
Even though MQM is utilizing the presence of 3 million Bengalis or Beharis settled either in Gulshan e Behaar, BaRaboard, Orangi town to counter the growing activities of Pathans but it appears that in next 10 years the demographics of Karachi will change drastically. It will go back to 1950s Karachi where multiple ethnic communities exist and they had learnt the art of living together peacefully soon after 1947 partition unlike today’s biased culture of ethnic divide.
Statement of Prime Minister Gilani to change the status of Hyderabad that was divided into four districts five years ago by the then[General Pervaz Musharaf’s]Chief Minster Ghulam Arbab Rahim of Sindh, just to benefit MQM politically through these administrative divide, few political analysts say, had made MQM alarmed and frightened. MQM has also disturbed due to the delay of local bodies’ (LB) election. It also appears that new democratic realties in Sindh’s urban centers will not allow MQM a clean sweep in forthcoming LB elections.
The ruling establishment has finalised a ‘comprehensive strategy’ viz-a-viz general election-and an ‘IJI-type’ alliance would be formed before the polls. The next local or general elections could see another religio-political alliance in the field as efforts are underway to bring PML and right wing  parties onto one political platform before the elections. The newly design All Pakistan Muslim League, other rightwing parties and Muttahida can form an alliance in the future. It seems Jammat e Islami, Imaran Khan’s Tehrek e Insaf and other right wing parties could become a partner choice for Altaf Hussain and it’s party. Hence, in a sense, MQM is isolated in their own home-town Karachi with other ethnic communities gaining majority.As the ’empire’ of MQM is now on uncertain grounds, it is appealing right wing  forces and Islamic world for HELP.

About the author

Junaid Qaiser

5 Comments

Click here to post a comment
  • Efforts by Jang Group are afoot to inflame Sindh – Save-the-Sindh Card Safari By Shaheen Sehbai Saturday, October 02, 2010 Shawwal 21, 1431 A.H. http://www.thenews.com.pk/02-10-2010/Top-Story/1028.htm His latest survival safari into Sindh started on Friday when in Badin he not only attacked the now familiar ‘political actors’ but also clubbed with them ‘political orphans’ who, he said, were asking for an end to the feudal system, a direct hint that he was aiming his guns at the MQM, which has been asking ‘patriotic generals’ to play their role through a Martial Law-type action. By attacking political orphans, Zardari has made it clear that his party is now done with the MQM and may soon force it out of the Sindh cabinet. Why this may be necessary is not clear but he may be clear in his mind that MQM could no longer be trusted as it had betrayed the PPP on every critical political juncture — the NRO issue, local bodies issue, patriotic generals issue and many more. Any radical action against the MQM would, Zardari believes, reactivate the core Sindhi constituency of the PPP and thus revive the party’s sinking fortunes. Attacking the MQM would help rural Sindhis forget what the PPP elite had done to them during the floods, or so Zardari would be thinking.

  • Shaheen Sehbai did the same with Altaf Hussain, Shaheen leaked part of personal conversation with Altaf Hussain to the press wherein Altaf Hussain talked about Khomeini Type Revolution in Pakistan??? – As per Daily The News International/Jang Group of Newspapers Pakistan, Tuesday, March 10, 2009, Mr Altaf Hussain [Founder of Muttahida Qaumi Movement] while in an interview to the News International Editor, Mr Shaheen Sehbai, said Pakistan needs another French or Iranian revolution. He totally agreed when I mentioned Imam Khomeini, the leader of the Iranian revolution. “We do need a Khomeini,” he said. Romanticising Khomeini. http://chagataikhan.blogspot.com/2009/05/romanticising-khomeini.html