Of anti-MQM narratives

Somehow substantially proving its presence, political relevance and popularity at grassroots level, the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) has swept the recent LG elections in the city of Karachi against all odds. On the other hand, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) synergy has miserably failed to upset the so-called political status quo in Karachi. Owing to multiple reasons, both political parties could not mobilise their respective political support base in the city. Consequently, the proactive pro-MQM enthusiasm eventually prevailed over the passive anti-MQM sentiments in the city. These elections have also badly exposed the poor electioneering as well as pathetic grassroot-level organisational structure of both PTI and JI in Karachi.

Since its very inception, the MQM, as a political party, has been entangled in different controversies and scandals. Time and again, it was charged with serious criminal allegations. From its alleged role in planning the Jinnah Pur in 1990’s to the involvement in the 2012 Baldia Town Factory fire incident, a large number of serious allegations have been levelled against it. It has also been accused of some high-profile assassinations like the murder of former governor Sindh Hakim Muhammad Saeed, journalist Wali Khan Baber, PTI’s leader Zahra Shahid, former MD KESC Shahid Hamid, younger brother of former CM Sindh Syed Abdullah Shah, Dr. Imran Farooq etc. Some of these allegations have also been substantiated by the confessional statements made by various alleged MQM’s target killers in Karachi at different times.

Since the begging of current military-backed Karachi operation, somehow based on a sort of finger-in-very-pie hypothesis, a strong anti-MQM narrative has been articulated and evolved in the country. This narrative has tried to establish MQM’s connection to every criminal activity going on in the city ranging from target killing to ransom, land grabbing and extortion. The media has also played a pivotal role in the promotion of this narrative. Necessarily in line with this narrative, a few months ago, the DG Rangers Sindh has also revealed that black money worth Rs. 230 billion was collected in Karachi annually through racketeering. This money is further used to purchase arms and ammunition to promote terrorism. Besides the general ‘purgation’ of MQM, the so-called Minus One solution is generally believed to be the ultimate objective of this narrative.

Apparently, all the allegations leveled against MQM seem nothing beyond a media campaign as no significant allegation has yet been proved in the court of law. Nor does any senior MQM leader, including its chief Altaf Hussain, has been nabbed, or otherwise interrogated by the LEA’s so far. Therefore, MQM is still actively carrying out all political activities in the city. Its political support base in Karachi is quite intact. It has just won the LG elections in the city by a wide margin knocking out its political opponents. Before this, we have also witnessed a landslide victory of MQM in the by-election on NA 246 seat in Karachi.

On very day of LG polls in Karachi, the FIA registered a criminal case against MQM chief Altaf Hussain and other party leaders in connection with the Murder of Dr. Imran Farooq in London in 2010. Relying on JIT report, the FIR contains the provisions of conspiracy, assistance, abetment and murder. The government of Pakistan has been trying to extend full cooperation and assistance to the Scotland Yard in the investigation of this murder case. Ironically, the government is showing excessive interest in the investigation of a blind murder committed on an alien land, but on the other hand, it looks quite handicapped to apprehend and prosecute the criminals who have killed thousands of innocent Karachiites in broad daylight in the city.

Despite a strong confessional statement made by Saulat Mirza, the convicted and executed activist of MQM, the government did not bother to register a criminal case based on his statement. Instead of thoroughly probing the facts revealed by him, the authorities readily hanged him some months ago leaving behind a lot of controversies and unanswered questions. Legally and technically, the statement made by him in connection with alleged multiple murders in Karachi, including the murder of former MD KESC Shahid Hamid, would be more effective than the statements now made by the three suspects arrested in Dr. Imran Farooq murder case.

It is quite unfortunate that, despite the fact a large number of criminal cases have been registered against MQM chief Altaf Hussian in Pakistan, the federal government is looking towards the Scotland Yard to apprehend and punish him in UK. Today, we don’t know where exactly does the Baladia Town factory fire case stand now. What legal conclusions have been drawn by our investigating agencies from the confessional statement made by the alleged high-profile target killers of MQM, namely Umair Siddiui, Ajmal Pahari, Waseem commando, Faisal Mota etc.? Why have the grave anti-state allegations made by Saulat Mirza, Zulfiqar Mirza and SSP Rao Anwar against MQM never been properly investigated? What has happened to the BBC report and statement made by MQM activist Tariq Mir about the alleged connection between Indian Intelligence agency RAW and the MQM? Regrettably, there is no one to answer these questions. And obviously, there is also no one to take responsibility for all this either.

The current Karachi operation, jointly conducted by the Sindh Rangers and the police, is now yielding quite fruitful results. It has observably stabilised the city. The numbers of typical Karachi-related crimes like target killing, ransom and extortion have significantly dropped. In fact, the very success of this operation necessarily justifies the operational modus operandi adopted by the LEA’s. Nevertheless, the current stabilisation of Karachi hardly looks sustainable. It is being feared that as soon as the security and law enforcing agencies will stop this operation, the criminal mafias would readily return to the city as their hierarchy is still intact. This operation has somehow achieved its tactical objectives by establishing an effective deterrence in the city, but at the same time, the issues relating to the prosecution and court trial of the criminals apprehended by the LEA’s still remain unresolved.

The Sindh Rangers, which is playing a crucial role in the current Karachi operation, often finds it difficult to get the periodic formal permission from the Sindh government to actively continue this operation. In fact, owing to its political expediencies, the Sindh government has been a passive, and rather reluctant, participator of this operation. But, in order to successfully conclude this operation, the federal and provincial government have not only to fully own it but also resolve the legal and operational complications presently associated with it. It is the time to segregate the crime from politics in the city. Articulating a narrative against a particular political party, through excessive media maneuvering, would hardly help contain the criminal elements in Karachi. Nor does it help stabilise this volatile and troubled city in any way.

Mohsin Raza Malik

The writer is a lawyer. He can be contacted at mohsinraza.malik@ymail.com. Follow him on Twitter

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