Targeting MQM: Conspiracy or Cleansing?

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“Altaf Bhai is MQM and MQM is Altaf Bhai”: relying too much on this ideology seems to have come to haunt the Mutahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).

With Bhai entangled in money laundering and other cases abroad, MQM faces the same fate in Pakisan. Bhai’s health is not too different from the political health of MQM. What began with a raid at Bhai’s residence in London by the Scotland Yard, progressed into an operation against “mafias” in Karachi, and is now an all out unveiling of MQM’s alleged evil face.

Rangers raiding 9-0, Saulat Mirza’s dying declaration – which ironically postponed his death – and now an SSP’s very revealing press conference alleging ties between MQM and RAW, are all nails in a coffin.

Is it all actually a conspiracy against MQM, as alleged by them?

Is the federal and provincial government plotting against Karachi’s party? Is the Army in on this?

Well I haven’t lived in Karachi, but I have been there several times in my life. I also happen to know many Karachiites. MQM’s activities of extortion, kidnapping, target killing are facts admitted by most Karachiites whom I have met, including some who support Altaf Bhai. So these recent revelations aren’t shocking in what they carry, but in why they are being made.

MQM has on many occasions been dubbed the establishment’s party. Why then would the Army and ISI suddenly “conspire” against one of their supporters?

I don’t buy this conspiracy theory cry by the MQM. It is NOT a conspiracy. When an ordinary citizen was aware of MQM’s real face, how could the intelligence and law enforcement agencies be oblivious of it all. Whatever is being revealed now is not new information for the police, rangers or the establishment. It may only be the breaking of a promise to scratch each other’s backs, or may be the keeping of it: since the inability of a party to scratch another’s back would automatically relieve the other party of any consequent duty to reciprocate.

MQM has lost its flare. The alleged involvement of their leader in the murder of one of their own, that too a British citizen, Karachi’s recently acquired status of a terrorist’s hub, an underlying shift in the establishment’s policies and probably Altaf Bhai’s age, all seem to have contributed in ridding MQM of any foreign and local support. Cornered by friends and double crossed by confidants, MQM now stands at the verge of its climax.

Their recent win in NA 246 was fervently celebrated, deemed to have stamped MQM’s legitimacy with popular support. It may have been hoped that faced with public support for MQM, the “conspirers” will lay off. But on moves the operation and revelations keep flooding in.

Pertinent to note that the SSP’s press conference is the first such attack on MQM after NA 246 by elections and comes a day after the Chief of Army Staff re affirmed his resolve to rid Karachi of its mafia culture.

This is an action against MQM, there is no doubt about that. But it is not a conspiracy hatched to victimize an innocent party of saints. This is probably the first step in cleansing Karachi, and hopefully a first step in cleansing Pakistan. I will not be surprised if, in the near future, blame for Sabeen Mahmud’s murder is also borne by MQM or one its “RAW sponsored” agents. The ISI or the Army does not benefit at all from her unfortunate death, in fact they stood to lose the most.

What I see is an overhauling of establishment’s policy towards its “assets”. Zarb e Azab is seen as having substantially ended the ‘good taliban – bad taliban’ rule which clouded our stance against terrorism over the past two decades. The restraint and manipulation displayed during last year’s political instability, that till late almost always resulted in “meray azeez humwatano”, is also a fresh and positive change. It could have been better without the manipulation, but then again it may have been what the country needed.

I cannot vouch for generals in their individual capacity, but as an institution, I know the Army and the ISI have the best interest of Pakistan in mind, for the simple reason that their survival is dependent on Pakistan’s survival. They have made blunders and mistakes in the past, and there is no denying that we have had to face the consequences. But in my humble opinion, this change of track is all for good. There are better times ahead. The course may not be entirely democratic, but there is a better Pakistan at its end. To me that is all that matters: a better, cleaner, prosperous Pakistan where democracy, freedom and justice prevail and not in their current contaminated forms.

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