One of the strangest facts of the present day is that if there is one thing that non-PPP voters from Punjab still appreciate about Benazir’s second term in office, it is the use of Naseerullah Babar against the MQM. As an example, consider Ayaz Amir’s column of today in The News. This is what Ayaz Amir, a PML-N MNA has to say about MQM:
The MQM resides in a claustrophobic world of its own. Engaging it as if it were an equal, which it is not, is hardly a mark of wisdom. The PML-N is a national party, twice having led the country, and waiting in the wings to lead it once more. If a further response from its side is called for, it should be dismissive and, with luck, withering. There the matter should rest. The PML-N does itself no service by stooping to the MQM’s level.
As interior minister, Gen Naseerullah Babar did not bandy words with the MQM. When things got out of hand in Karachi in mid-1995 he started an operation which ended by breaking the MQM’s back.
Now one can understand that as a PML-N MNA, Ayaz Amir is upset about the statements made by Haider Abbas Rizvi and Waseem Akhtar against his own party leadership. (However, one is surprised that for a relatively balanced member of PML-N, Ayaz Amir is not very critical of Chaudhry Nisar’s own unrestrained words against Altaf Hussain which started the whole incident to begin with). However, the amazing thing is that Ayaz Amir really believes that MQM as a party should not be engaged with, as an equal, by PML-N because MQM lives in a “claustrophobic world of its own”. In fact, in the second paragraph, Ayaz Amir suggests that rather than bothering to wage a war of words with a party like MQM, PML-N should follow the example of Naseerullah Babar and start an operation to “break MQM’s back”.
Frankly speaking, this attitude, from an elected member of the national assembly no less, is horrifying. For one thing, to an impartial observer, there should not be much difference between the level of discourse that Chaudhry Nisar sunk to and that which Haider Abbas Rizvi and Waseem Akhtar sunk to in response. So it doesn’t look very good that Ayaz Amir is trying to whitewash his own party’s role in yesterday’s disaster. But worse than that is the idea that MQM is, as an entity, not even worth engaging politically. As if his own party, PML-N exists on some superior plane in which the only interaction it should have with MQM is that of heavy handed force in the style of Naseerullah Babar.
What kind of “national party” is PML-N if its elected representatives speak of the fourth largest party in the parliament in these terms? And ironically, this attitude displayed by Ayaz Amir is precisely what is the cause of the so-called “paranoia” and “claustrophobia” exhibited by MQM. MQM successfully constructs its narrative of victimhood precisely because the attitude of PML-N is that which is displayed by Ayaz Amir in today’s column. So if PML-N really wants to be a national party, then perhaps it is time for its representatives to examine their own ethnic biases. If PPP has left behind the politics of Naseerullah Babar for good, then it’s time for PML-N lawmakers to stop fantasizing about bringing them back.