Then they laid to waste all the plans. In a hilarious series of press conferences, Farooq Sattar & Mustafa Kamal destroyed the attempts to coerce them into one force against the PPP in Karachi, leaving naked the forces behind this engineering. There are lessons in this for every political party. After months of pressure, and then 16 hours in a ‘safe house’ facilitated by some ‘government servant’, Farooq Sattar had acquiesced to Kamal’s announcement of a new merged party that would not have the Mohajir identity. But ironically, the actual Mohajir workers and community turned on Sattar for having betrayed them. The workers/ members of the MQM-P reacted strongly to this development and the next day Sattar did an about turn spilling all the beans about the establishment force engineering politics and political parties. In a furious reaction, Kamal reconfirmed all Sattar had said: that the establishment had been, to euphemise, ‘facilitating’ the attempted merger.
However, not only did all come to naught, but a couple of other opportunists, who happen to be veritable arms of the establishment also got exposed in this eruption: the absconder General Musharraf and the PTI. Unable to contain his excitement at the prospect of leading a unified Mohajir party being handed to him on a plate, Musharraf had congratulated Mohajir community on the union of MQM-P and PSP even before these parties’ respective leaders had held their joint press conference on Wednesday announcing the merger.
A leading newspaper reported on Thursday, ‘Musharraf – whose APML’s leaders had time and again expressed their desire that the former dictator lead a unified MQM –‘ congratulated Mohajir community on the alliance of the two parties in a video statement released even before the said joint press conference of Sattar and Kamal. One feels pity for the former dictator that plans for his return to power and glory came undone so quickly and so spectacularly. But what he is thinking, buying and/or co-hatching these plans is anyone’s guess. Given the treason and murder cases against him, how anyone thought they would easily parachute Musharraf onto Pakistan’s political scene, even with a compliant to the hilt judiciary, is most perplexing. There is a limit to what even the powerful can achieve, demonstrated no less by the revolt of the MQM-P workers who did not even allow the merger to go ahead.
This revolt is the most fascinating development in Pakistani politics, where leaders or electables may be dragged by the establishment but the workers and voters’ hold stronger sway over the leader. Reason? Without voters the leaders are nothing. Here is the lesson for all other parties: the people of this country whether they belong to Karachi, Lahore or Peshawer, have become very aware and very assertive and will not allow their leaders to make deals with the establishment. In the cities and villages of Punjab, no Punjabi wants the PMLN to make any deal with the establishment. The MQM-P and Farooq Sattar have done well to take a quick U-turn upon realization of this fact. Indeed, it is surprising that Sattar had not sensed this before his joint presser.
In this theatre the other veritable arm, the PTI, was also left without the fig leaf it insists it is wearing like the emperor in his new clothes: one PTI leader Faisal Vawda is said to have been present at the 16 hour marathon together with the ‘government servant’ to ‘persuade’ Sattar to merge with PSP. Not surprisingly, the great non-corrupt, honest, courageous democrat Imran Khan remains conspicuously silent on the role his party has obviously been playing in this unconstitutional dirty game.
Mr. Zardari had been busy tempting over the MQM’s senators and electables, but little had he known the two MQM-P & PSP were being merged to keep him in check in Karachi/ Sind instead. Finally, the old guard of ideologues in his party have also begun to react against his putrid games of playing footsie with the establishment and putting spanners in legislation in the making for over a year. Raza Rabbani and Farhatullah Babar, two pillars of the PPP have spoken out against the party’s U-turn from reforming the NAB law to apply equally to all public office holders, be they from the judiciary or the armed services, together with all other categories. Zardari too needs to read the writing on the wall. To get the PPP voters back in the fold, he will need to return to politics of democratic principles together with delivering real governance.
The writer is a human rights worker and freelance columnist.