The Security Agencies are failing to perform their statutory role?
By Usman Khalid
After the overthrow of Nawaz Sharif Government by General Musharraf in 1999, the real rulers of Pakistan have been the MQM. It is no coincidence that the Sindh province has had the same Governor – Dr Ishrat al Ibad – during these years, who is the nominee of MQM Leader Altaf Hussain. It is no coincidence that the caretaker Chief Minister is also a Mohajir. It was a part of the plan to keep Karachi in the control of the MQM. That control had been maintained and sustained by gerrymandering of constituencies and registration of bogus voters, aggressive intimidation (which included murder of hundreds of members of patriotic members MQM who broke away and formed MQM- Haqiqi) and infiltration of the police, other government departments and state owned industry.
From the outset the MQM was organised as a mafia – built on ‘loyalty to the boss’ as its founding principle. When the Supreme Court ordered check on bogus votes and fresh delimitation of a few constituencies Mafia Don Altaf Hussain ordered his followers to go to Islamabad by the trainload and picket the Supreme Court. He abandoned his plan this time because of logistic problem of moving and housing thousands of Karachites in Islamabad. But he did display his power and hold over Karachi in 2007 when he held the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan virtually as a prisoner at Karachi Air Port blocking all exits, and forced him to fly back without attending the a function of Sindh High Court he had come to attend. The Sindh High Court took suo moto notice of the open defiance of law and its authority. The MQM Mafia reacted by Don Altaf Hussain ordering the membership to flood the premises of the High court in thousands to ‘give evidence’. That created a law and order situation and the hearing was cancelled never to recommence again.
The Urdu speaking people of Karachi are urban middle class who cannot be comfortable being the grip of a mafia don in perpetuity. They did not have a choice in the past because the alternative to the MQM was religious or feudal parties. For the first time, they had an attractive choice in Imran Khan’s PTI. The Supreme Court took notice of murders and extortion on large scale in Karachi and its hearings revealed that the cause was turf war between the MQM, ANP and TTP and political intervention to protect MQM members who committed crimes. The provincial and local administration has been completely paralysed and held hostage by different mafias with the MQM the most powerful. The citizens of Karachi Urdu speaking portion of who had welcomed the ‘protection’ and jobs provided by the MQM, have since come to realise that it is an instrument of foreign intelligence agencies particularly India RAW. Continued control of the MQM over Karachi has intensified sectarian and ethnic war which has destroyed the economy and made peace impossible.
The Don of the MQM realised he was losing control over Karachi; he never enjoyed respect but he does not look so fearsome as the TTP started to attack its meetings and its candidates. The Don made a plan to secure victory by a combination of intimidation and rigging of elections. It was based on appointment of ‘presiding officers’ sympathetic to MQM who would start polling late allowing time and opportunity to stuff ballot boxes with already stamped ballot papers. The plan predictably succeeded and the MQM won all but one seat in Karachi. The Chief Election Commissioner – who is from Karachi – has been too afraid of the MQM to take any action to provide a remedy. The Governor and the Caretaker Chief Minister are both from the MQM and they did their bit to help the MQM scheme to succeed by not asking for Army’s help which was held at a distance ‘on call’. On May 13, when the outcry against the rigging of the elections became louder, the Sindh caretaker Government requested the Army to withdraw even from its ‘on call’ role.
Afraid that the people of Karachi are no longer fearful of the MQM, the mafia don decided to use intimidation and blackmail directly from his HQ in London. He addressed a public rally in Karachi and threatening to break Karachi away from Pakistan if their “mandate” is not accepted by the “establishment”, a term used for the army. He also warned that he has the power not only to create mayhem in Karachi but also to torch entire Pakistan. That is the worst threat to the security of Pakistan since 1971 when another RAW agent – Sheikh Mujib – threatened UDI for East Pakistan. The armed forces and security agencies of Pakistan have a statutory role to defend the country from foreign forces and their agents. In 1971, their response was inadequate and late. But they were constrained by a hostile public in East Pakistan. The public of Karachi would welcome effective elimination of the MQM mafia for good.
The time to act is now. The people of Pakistan would forgive the politicians if the threat by Altaf Hussain is becomes operative. At this time, the Election Commission, the Supreme Court and the military have state coercive instruments under their control. When the new PPP-MQM Government takes over in Karachi in a week or two, they would neither have the means nor the will to bring things under control. At this time, strong remedies are available, and can be put into effect straightaway:
1.Fresh elections ordered in ALL constituencies in Karachi – date later.
2.The military put on alert to impose Martial Law in Karachi.
3.New elected political Government sworn in as early as possible.
Any vacillation at this time would be costly, even fatal. All the five points above are equally vital. The military is already being blamed for not acting to prevent fraud in elections. They have been content with their role as sentries on printing presses and as couriers of ballot papers and boxes being given publicity. Their reputation as the best organisers in the country – even of horse and cattle show of Lahore – has been irreparably damaged.