I still cannot forget the last local body elections in Karachi when almost every inked thumb was posted on social media to spread a message of devotion and loyalty after casting the votes. I read, “My vote is for Bhai,” alongside every posted picture. There was a barrel of ethnic sentiments or a fog of blindness – whichever metaphor agrees with your sensibilities.
Read: The MQM Question!
I happened to write an article, “Blind Following,” having thought bitter of that tragedy. However, a deep-rooted ethnic instinct advised me not to write and state the facts. I was propelled to revisit history and ensure that my mind’s inner rebellion was not leading me astray.
A Case of Too Many Splinter Groups
From the All Pakistan Muttahida Students Organization (APMSO) in the early 1980s originated two MQMs: Muhajir Qaumi Movement and the more recent version, Muttahida Qaumi Movement. After years of internal turmoil, MQM made way for a splinter group, Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) led by Syed Mustafa Kamal, the former mayor of Karachi and once a close aide of MQM’s senior leadership. At present, Muttahida Qaumi Movement stands further divided into MQM London and MQM Pakistan.
Interestingly, the Karachi walas will have to bear the brunt of two more splinter groups: PIB Colony and Bahadarabad group. One would hope that they would not enter into a violent clash, God forbid, however MQM’s history teaches us otherwise.
The disturbing part is that despite so many divisions and set-backs, the party is not yet a dead horse.
MQM was Once Beloved
From 1978 (the origin of APMSO) to 1984 (the founding of Muhajir Qaumi Movement), we can safely say that MQM’s leadership displayed genuine sincerity. Their enthusiasm for the well-being of the muhajir and Urdu-speaking communities was infectious.
Alas! If only they had maintained the same demeanour today, MQM would not be considered a mafia, foreign agent or treacherous.
Power Struggle in the Early Days
It was in the decade of 90s that MQM first started exhibiting signs of power struggle. The fault lines were established with the advent of MQM (led by Altaf Hussain) and MQM Haqiqi (led by Afaq Ahmed).
Both the groups demarcated no-go areas, interrogating locals as they entered and exited their troubled neighbourhoods. The fierce dispute quickly climbed up the highest steeples of cruelty.
When tortured dead bodies began piling up on both sides, the government was forced to demand military intervention. Between 1992 – 1994, “Operation Clean-up,” marked the bloodiest chapter in Karachi’s history.
Despite joint action by civilian and military law-enforcement wings, both the parties continued to play the ethnic card, luring naive, impoverished youth as their foot soldiers.
What Would Karachi be Had It Not Been for MQM?
Had the citizens not been divided into several groups on the basis of the self-serving interests of the politicians, Karachi would have been among the biggest developed cities in Asia. Karachi’s current state cannot be termed as the irony of fate but it is rather the tyranny of a few power hungry individuals.
For almost two decades following the barbarism and chaos in Pakistan’s biggest metropolitan, people continued to have faith in MQM’s leadership. They continued to take pride in voting for bhai, truly believing that Altaf Hussain was the messiah that he had claimed to be during the 1980s.
People of Karachi, I Plead Your Attention
These well-meaning citizens were not supposed to be known as blind followers. They were suppose to be remembered as resolute disciples of a visionary leader. However, after the many catastrophes that have befallen Karachi; and after the obvious signs of disloyalty that Altaf Hussain and MQM have displayed against our motherland, the citizens of Karachi must distance themselves from this ethnic politics of hate and division. That is, unless, they too want to be remembered as tyrants and treacherous.
Who is going to showcase their thumb for bhai, now? No one ought to. If the people of Karachi truly want the age of extortion, ransoms, torture and gang wars to end, they must take away the power that they give to these tyrants by voting for them.
I would go as far as to say: choose the best among the worst but please stop electing vultures and murderers!
It is time that we as the people of Karachi change rather than expecting change from our political leaders. For how long will we allow these oppressive “politicians” to hijack our votes and our city? If we truly don’t want to relapse into the turmoil of the 90s, we must stop voting for the same faces who caused us the anguish.
As for me, my vote was for MQM, but now no more!