Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Muhajirs, the MQM and NA-246

April 18, 2015
By Saeed Qureshi

For how long the immigrants from India,who opted to live in the newly Muslim state of Pakistan in August 1947, keep branding themselves as the refugees or Muhajirs. Now they are citizens of Pakistan and treat themselves as such.  As a matter of fact no one compelled them in 1947 to immigrate to Pakistan. They could live in India like other 200 million Muslims are living.
It was their voluntary decision to move to Pakistan.

If they feel that they have been maltreated since 1947 then this argument is spurious as besides them a huge chunk of Pakistanis  are living in more miserable conditions than the Muhajir community settled mostly in Karachi; the largest metropolis of Pakistan.

While MQM is a highly organized entity with enormous political clout and matchless cohesion, the downtrodden population in Pakistan neither has resources nor any party or platform to voice their grievances and abysmal conditions under which they lead their lives. 

The grinding poverty, the degrading living environment, the yoke of serfdom for millions of farm labor families tied around their necks from generation to generation in a feudalistic society is abhorrent.  It is a sordid testimony to the misery of a vast section of society living on the soil of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

The majority of the people in villages and in eye sore city slums look like pigeons and parrots stuffed in cages. Most of the Pakistanis toil throughout their lives to survive and sustain on barest minimum foodstuff. The divide between rich and poor is as wide as the Pacific Ocean and no conscious policies have been mounted by any government since 1947 to narrow this gap. 

The feudal, the plutocrats, the wealthy the bureaucrats, the top notches in business and manufacturing, the army big wigs both in service and retired lead such a glamorous life that eclipses the living of their counterparts even in posh and affluent societies.

If MQM has to wage a struggle and launch a mission for the poor and deprived classes of Pakistan then they will have to come out of the shell of MQM that in fact highlights their aloofness from the miseries of the rest of the scum of the earth. If they have to raise their voice for equal rights of all the people then no line should be drawn between the Muhajirs and non-Muhajirs, the immigrants and non-immigrants.

The MQM   has remained confined to Karachi since its formation. The common impression about its functioning is that it is operating in Karachi more by coercion and fear and by playing the ethnic card focused on Muhajirs. It has been blamed, more often than not, for indulging in extortion, arm twisting, violence, grabbing of lands both of the state and the people.

Its image, unfortunately is, that for its political and economic survival and to keep Karachi under its tutelage, it has let loose a reign of perpetual terror and harassment not only against its own flock but the entire population of Karachi. It has been viewed as a mafia that survives on strong-arm tactics carried out through its militant and spying wings closely watching who was doing what. 

Many assassinations both of high profile and of commoners are suspected to be the work of MQM's death squads for quelling the resistance and to silence opposition within the fold of MQM and out of it.

We have been hearing that the MQM adherents and the Muhajir families have stern and tacit instructions to attend the rallies of Altaf Hussain addressed from the safe confines of London. Those who may not come to such unusually huge gatherings for pressing reasons are harassed, probed and punished in various manners. 

The semblance of cohesion and compulsion of attendance is so indispensable for the MQM community that they can sacrifice their personal pressing priorities and sit on the bare grounds for hours listening to Altaf Hussain’s lengthy and occasionally funny and boring discourses.

The MQM entity is in dire need of being liberated and released from the coercion and strict regimentation that they have been subjected to for decades now. To thrust upon them to demonstrate ethnicity-based  phony and forced solidarity is like a balloon which might burst at a certain point of time and result into a disastrous infighting with MQM echelons.

This murky and brutal image of MQM and its oppressive ascendancy and obsessive sway on the inhabitants of Karachi looks like assassins of yester years when they held the succeeding Muslim dynasties hostage to their dictates for several centuries to be ultimately decimated by Mongols under the command Hilaku Khan. In the case of MQM there are no invaders coming from distant shores but a tussle could erupt within the party ranks destroying its monolithic structure.

The rangers are doing a commendable job by releasing Karachi from the unremitting spell of lawlessness, target killings, kidnappings and mayhem of multifarious bounty hunters for money and for personal, clannish and political and other ferocious vendettas.

If MQM is not involved in all those nefarious activities then it ought to welcome the ongoing para military campaign to cleanse Karachi of thugs and bandits in order to bring peace to that city bedeviled for so long with incessant lawlessness.

The election contest in NA constituency 246 should not be treated as the exclusive preserve of MQM.  The other contestants should not be resisted and barred from setting foot here. It should not be projected as no- go- area. The early furor and outrage demonstrated by MQM rank and file was certainly unwarranted and was aimed at facilitating a walk over by MQM. But in that case the victory of MQM would have always remained questionable.

The MQM, by all indications, would win this seat. But now when it has allowed PTI and JI to hold public meetings and rallies, its victory would look credible and well-earned. The conciliatory statements of Altaf Hussain welcoming the rival parties are well in time and demonstration of a positive outlook that if continued would foster political and social goodwill among the divergent political forces benefiting the MQM.  This trend would help washing off its image of being a party stifling political dissent through show of force.

Altaf Hussain himself is locked in the eye of storm due to high profile criminal cases pending against him in the British courts. Back home in Pakistan there is also a plethora of similar cases registered against him. If he decides to return to Pakistan, he may remain ill at ease. His health is deteriorating too. His vigor and physical fitness seems to be dissipating.

It is time that once he tenders his resignation it should be the final call and he should not take it back. This exercise has been repeated many times and appears to be mere facade. He should prevail upon his followers and party workers to emphasize that it was high time for the change of the praetorian. He can still be a patron chief in an advisory position but should say goodbye to active politics.


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