By Tarik Jan
Dominating headlines is not new for the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). But this time its entry in Punjab has created euphoria in the press praising MQM for its thrust in the interior. And as is our unrepentant psychology we have cast aside all our reservations about a party whose past can at best be described as murky.
As a nation we suffer from amnesia or perhaps we intentionally forget, for sometimes it is better to forget than to keep the wounds fresh and festering. In the first case the end result is fatal – the casualty could be our existence as a people and a nation. Why forget MQM’s past is a question that bothers people like me.
Post May 12, 2007 Pakistani political parties of all shades and colors gathered in London and decided to call MQM a terrorist organization. And that was something new in our history for the following reason:
A party in power could tag a political rival as a terrorist organization and few would buy it, slinging it aside as spiteful. But it is another matter if the majority of the political parties band together and call one of the parties among them as terrorist and fascist.
May 12 was not just another day – it was a day of much gore that left a body count of fifty dead as per Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission report. Nobody could have thought that such a thing could happen in a nation that generally avoids mixing blood with politics. The man they wanted to scare was chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry who had earlier earned the wrath of the Musharraf administration by his refusal to quit.
Disastrous as the day was it etched itself in the nation’s consciousness like a bullet in the brain that escapes the surgeon knife. The combined opposition verdict against MQM was prompt – a terrorist outfit with the ostensible face of a political party – the protagonist of chaos who was trying to hold Karachi to itself by brute force and intimidation. Musharraf saw in the MQM ability to kill a partner that can deliver in the guise of people’s power — something he could not have summoned to the actualization of his personal agenda elsewhere in Pakistan.
Was this the MQM unknown face that the combined opposition saw for the first time? Certainly not, they were familiar with its fascist profile, the-body-in-the-sack phenomenon – indulging in secretive, isolated, acts of killing opponents within and without the party.
However, May 12 was the MQM debut as a party that can kill openly in broad daylight with the guts of a hired assassin who kills remorselessly as a job.
Disturbing as it was, it awoke part of Karachi from its anesthetic sleep. For the first time the Sindh judiciary came out of the MQM-induced fear. Lawyers gave a solidarity call to judiciary. The media mewed after a long spell of fear. In a bold move, Imran Khan took the MQM case to the British law-enforcing agencies. Whether law seizes Altaf Hussain is difficult to say. It is possible that his case will be clogged in the pipeline for he has powerful sponsors who may save him for a negative role in the future.
The latest events in Karachi are particularly disturbing. Encouraged by the protest wave against MQM, Iqbal Kazmi filed a petition in the court alleging the party as a terrorist organization whose leadership is involved in extortion and money laundering. According to his testimony, rupees 640 million have been remitted from Karachi to London lately. In consequence, they abducted, tortured and thrown Kazmi in the wilderness, threatening him to leave Karachi or face death. With nowhere to go, he came to the Karachi Press Club and told his tale of grief. In forcing him to withdraw the case against the MQM leadership, they got him arrested in a fraud case. Poor man did not know he was up against a terror machine. To strip him of his dignity they abducted his wife and beat him. Scared, she asked the high court for protection, which it gave her.
In an equally horrid case, KPT labour leader Lutf Amin Shibli went on hunger strike in front of the Karachi press club alleging that Altaf obtained the bail of his wife’s killer, that the two members of his family Khurshid and Fahd had already met violent death at the hands of the MQM.
Lately senior attorneys Raja Riaz faced fatal firing in the presence of the security personnel followed by Atiq Qadri’s six-bullet death. Likewise, member Karachi Bar Association Muhammad Ali Abbasi was beaten; the office of the Islami Jami‘at Talba was raided, three students were killed and four abducted followed by IJT 4 more deaths near the university campus on September 13.
Worse, the MQM activists swamped Sind High Court as a signal to the judges that any adverse finding on the May 12 bloodbath will jeopardize their lives. As usual, MQM put up an innocent face as if it had nothing to do with these events. Altaf described such killings as terrorist acts. For sure when it comes to political chicanery, subterfuge, sophistry, blame game, and masquerade, his guiles are unmatched.
Is there a method to this ongoing cleansing Karachi of Altaf Hussein’s opponents? The answer is yes. To begin with, violence is not a meaningless exercise – it has a modulating aspect of engineering a new reality suited to the group that uses it. The new reality could be obtained within the geographical confines of a country. In such a case, it is not the existence of a state that the violent group challenges but the prevailing system, which it seeks to change through a mix of violence and electoral politics. Such a group may be dangerous but still patriotic. On the other hand, there could be a group, which wants to change the geography of a nation through violence, intimidation, and control. Such a group will always be working for a foreign enemy nation. And that would be obviously very dangerous for a state’s integrity as the group seeks to undo it.
Unfortunately, based on the available evidence, MQM falls in the second category of a violent group.
When asked in his interview with Vinod Sharma (November 5, 2004) “Would you, in retrospect, say that the subcontinent’s Partition was a mistake?” Altaf Hussain said, “Had I been around then, I would have voted against it.” If the Indian question was an outright affront and subversive, which any person who loves Pakistan would have refused to answer, Altaf’s response was equally offensive revealing his agenda.
However, it was in his keynote speech to Hindustan Times sponsored conference November 5-6, 2004 that he spewed his venom against Pakistan and the two-nation theory of Iqbal and Jinnah. Ignoring the theme “India and the World: A blueprint of partnership and growth,” he crisscrossed into his favourite subject of two-nation theory which, as he said, “continues to wreck untold miseries on people of this region for the past five decades.”
To another question on the continuation of dialogue with India, he ignored dialogue and came up with the notion of a union between Pakistan and India. “Only a truly democratic force like MQM,” he said, “at the centre can work towards a union like EU in South Asia.”
These are not just Altaf’s views but runs in the cadre he has created. In his Dawn’s letter November 21, 2004, Kunwar Khalid Yunus wrote, “It is worth pondering as to why 450 million Muslims of the subcontinent are today divided among three sovereign countries.” If there is any meaning to what he is saying the MQM wants to undo Pakistan. He is dismayed on the fact why at least 320 million Muslims are free from the yoke of secular India in the form of two independent Muslim states. Again, it is not the divided Muslims in three sovereign countries, which bother them — they are essentially opposed to Islam-defined identity. In fact, in his paper read to the same Indian conference he described Islam a “medieval ideology.” Jihad, he said, is meant “to tame the infidels” He is willing to ditch the Kashmiri Muslims because for him Kashmir is a Punjabi cause — “to benefit one province to the detriment of other provinces.”
The MQM venom against two-nation theory (Kafir and Muslim) is so deadly that it sends shivers to the readers’ spine. For example, read the few excerpts from a poem written by one Imran Hussain said to be member Central Organizing Committee:
“We got answers as time solved the mystery
Two-Nation theory was a blunder in history.”
“Theory was wrong and had to fall.”
Thus, finishing Pakistan is a common cause of MQM.
One may ignore what he said. But one may ask why should a so-called “Pakistani political leader” speak on the subject of India and the world? Altaf himself provided the answer. “The purpose of this conference,” he said, “is to discuss and prepare a ‘road map’ for the economic, strategic, and political future of India …”
To say that MQM is a terrorist organization with an Indian bent is not to repeat an allegation but stating the fact. The UN report based on the U.S. State Department and Amnesty International’s finding accuses MQM of indulging in summary killing, torture and other abuses.
The Musharraf administration and earlier and present elected governments have shared power with MQM, based on the premise that the taste of power will change their heart. However, it was a faulty premise. Power sharing does not change those who have their own agenda of subverting a nation’s essence. Sooner the nation realizes this fact the better it will be for its future. The Pakistan-loving people of Karachi deserve a better leadership, which they must have by bringing them out of terror and siege of fear. Alternatively, we may face a situation of the federation spinning out of its orbit.
I wish those who are jubilant on the MQM’s so-called entry in the mainstream politics had asked MQM to clarify its position on Pakistan; India-Pakistan relations; and Kashmir. They must ask MQM if it is willing to retract all those anti-Pakistan statements they made in the past and apologize to the nation whose destiny it wants to control.
Tarik Jan is Member Board of Advisiors, Opinion Maker. He is an Associate Professor with Fatima Jinnah University Rawalpindi. As a research scholar, he is also associated with Institute of Policy Studies, Islamabad. Tarik Jan besides contributing to English Newspapers, is a regular contributor to Opinion Maker.