Sunday, May 26, 2013

PTI vs. MQM: Altaf's Angry Response to Imran's Selective Outrage

What is the reason for Imran Khan's selective and misplaced outrage against MQM on Zahra Shahid Husain's murder while ignoring the Taliban killings of ANP and MQM members?

Why is the PTI continuing its sit-in campaign against alleged rigging?

How to explain political parties' militant wings,  MQM's use of violence in politics and what triggered the current crisis within MQM?

 What is the significance of Chinese Premier Li's visit  to Pakistan?

What is Pak-China Economic Corridor project?

What to make of  Zardari-Nawaz meeting and what should be the new government’s priorities? In the following video, Viewpoint from Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses  the above with Riaz Haq, Sabahat Ashraf, and Ali Hasan Cemendtaur.

This show was recorded at 12:30 pm PST on Thursday, May 23, 2013.

Pakistani Elections 2013, NA-250 re-elections, Zahra Shahid Hussain murder, Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf, PTI, Imran Khan, MQM, Altaf Hussain, Chinese Premier in Pakistan, Gwadar Port, China’s Energy Security, Riaz Haq, Sabahat Ashraf, iFaqeer, Ali Hasan Cemendtaur, WBT-TV, Viewpoint from Overseas, Pakistanis in the US, Silicon Valley Pakistanis, San Francisco Bay Area Pakistanis

این اے ۲۵۰ میں مکرر انتخابات، زہرہ شاہد حسین کا قتل، ایم کیو ایم، الطاف حسین، پاکستان تحریک انصاف، عمران خان، چینی صدر کا دورہ پاکستان، ترقیاتی منصوبے، گوادر، بلوچستان، پاکستان کے اصل مساءل، امن عامہ، ریاض حق، صباحت اشرف، آءی فقیر، علی حسن سمندطور، ڈبلیو بی ٹی ٹی وی، ویو پواءنٹ فرام اوورسیز، امریکہ میں پاکستانی، سلیکن ویلی، سان فرانسسکو بے ایریا

 पाकिस्तान, कराची, विएव्पोइन्त फ्रॉम ओवरसीज , फ़राज़ दरवेश, रिअज़ हक , सबाहत अशरफ , ई फ़क़ीर, अली हसन समंदतौर, दब्लेव बी टी टीवी, सिलिकॉन वेली, कैलिफोर्निया, फार्रुख शाह खान, फार्रुख खान
পাকিস্তান, করাচী, ক্যালিফর্নিয়া, সিলিকোন ভ্যালি, ভিয়েব্পৈন্ট ফরম ওভারসিস Виещпоинт фром Оверсеас, Цалифорния, Карачи, Пакистан, Фараз Дарвеш, Риац Хак, Сабахат Ашраф, И-фаяеер, Али Хасан Цемендтаур

 ، رياض حق ، إي فقير ، صباحات أشرف ، علي حسن سمند طور ، فيوبوينت فروم أفرسيس ، كاليفورنيا، كراتشي ، باكستان ،

പാക്കിസ്ഥാൻ കറാച്ചി കാലിഫോര്ണിയ വീവ്പൊഇന്റ് ഫ്രം ഓവർസീസ്‌ ഫരശ് ദര്വേഷ് രിഅശ് ഹഖ് അലി ഹസാൻ സമണ്ട്ടൂർ ഐ ഫഖീർ സബഹറ്റ് അഷ്‌റഫ്‌ પાકિસ્તાન, કરાચી, ફરાઝ દરવેશ, રીઅઝ હક, સબાહત અશરફ, અલી હસન સમાંન્દ્તૌર, કાલીફોર્નિયા, વિએવ્પોઇન્ત ફ્રોમ ઓવેર્સેઅસ पाकिस्तान, कराची, विएव्पोइन्त फ्रोम ओवेर्सेअस, कॅलिफोर्निया, फराज दरवेश, रिअश हक़, साबाहत अश्रफ, ई फ़क़ॆर, आली हसन समंद तूर

NA 250 re-elections, MQM vs. PTI, Chinese Premier in Pakistan, Zardari-Nawaz meeting from WBT TV on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Gangster Politicians of Karachi

Resolving Pakistan's Electricity Crisis

Pakistan Elections 2013 Results Who Will Win Pak Elections 2013 and Form Next Government

Musharraf's Coup Revived Pak Economy

Judicial Coup in Pakistan

Media and Telecom Revolution in Pakistan

Impact of Youth Vote and Taliban Violence on Elections 2013

Taliban vs. Pakistan in Elections 2013


Anonymous said...

Mr. Riaz I believe bending backwards to please China wont work for too long. US is and will always be a better ally for pakistan. Example being US being the biggest donor when Pakistan was struck by earthquake and devestating floods. China with surplus budget and US with budget defecit and economic crisis. US has a record of coming to their allies rescue in times of need. Recent example being south ~ north Korea spat. Chinese trade with India is almost 6 times bigger than our trade with China. Our military as always wants to dictate foreign policy which ideally in a democracy should be decided by civilian authorities.

Dr. Salmaan Butt

Riaz Haq said...

Dr. Salman Butt: "US is and will always be a better ally for pakistan"

If you saw the video, you probably heard me quote Kissinger who said "Nations Don't Have Friends, They Have Interests".

Both US and China have interests in South and West Asia.

China wants to build a Pak-China economic corridor through Pakistan from Gwadar to Xinjiang to assure its energy supplies in the events of hostilities with the US and resulting naval blockade in South China Sea.

As part of President Obama's "pivot to Asia" to check China's rise, the Americans have a strong competing interest in creating a new silk route in Asia that bypasses China. Americans envision such land route extending from resource rich Stans in Central Asia to resource hungry South Asia and Southeast Asia region via Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. The expected energy flow for energy-hungry Pakistan and the potential annual transit fees worth billions of dollars from this trade route are part of the US sponsored incentives for Pakistan to help stabilize the situation in Afghanistan. The first example of this effort is the American push for TAPI--Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline.

Alliances are based on interests and change with changing interests.

With the changing geo-politics, it seems to me that China's interests are likely to be more aligned with Pakistan's than the US interests.

Pakistanis need to be prepared to respond to the unfolding dynamics of geopolitics in the region and do what best serves their national interest.

Moin said...

Take a look at this video clip showing Altaf Husain threatening to put a journalist in a "bori" (body bag).

Geo, Dunya and ARY's logos are clearly visible on the microphones but none aired it. TV channels self-censor because they are also afraid of the "bori" threat.

Shams said...

Moin: "Take a look at this video clip showing Altaf Husain threatening to put a journalist in a "bori" (body bag)."

This Punjabi news reporter Azhar Javaid asked Altaf Hussain if MQM was the party responsible for dead bodies in "boris". To that Altaf Hussain, very clearly in jest, responded as you see at the beginning of this video clip.

The Punjabis cut out the fellow Punjabi Azhar Javaid's question.

As an intelligent Urdu speaker, you should have questioned the authenticity of the implication of this edited video clip - will any leader admit his crime, if there were any, in a news conference. This is for Punjabi audience, not you.

Riaz Haq said...

Shams:"Altaf Hussain, very clearly in jest, responded as you see at the beginning of this video clip"

It would be easy to dismiss the bori threat if Altaf Husain's party did not have a track record of violence and assassinations and if he did not have direct control of Karachi's largest private militia.

MQM has 10,000 armed men with 20,000 more fighters in reserves as reported in a US Consulate cable (US embassy cable – 09KARACHI138 SINDH – THE GANGS OF KARACHI Identifier: 09KARACHI138 Origin: Consulate Karachi Created: 2009-04-22 11:52:00) from Karachi that was leaked by Wikileaks.

Other parties like ANP, PPP and ST also have their militias but they are much smaller and much less organized.

Riaz Haq said...

Excerpt of a blog post in New York Times on Burgers (PTI supporters) vs Bun Kababs (MQM supporters) in recent elections in Karachi, Pakistan:

In the run-up to the second vote, the media predicted a showdown between the city’s burgers and bun kebabs. Gastronomic comments ranged from the frivolous to the frightening. Ayesha Tammy Haq, a broadcast journalist, tweeted, “All this burger-bun kebab talk is nonsense. After this election I am foie gras to your chopped liver.” A senior M.Q.M., meanwhile, warned that outright violence between burger and bun kebab could erupt, dividing the city. Such language highlights the continuing relevance of class divisions even after a campaign that focused on gender, youth and ethno-linguistic identity to mobilize voters. It is no laughing matter. On the eve of the second vote on Sunday, Zahra Shahid Hussain, a senior P.T.I. leader, was shot and killed outside her house in Karachi. Although the media reported that her death occurred during a burglary, Khan has said that the leader of M.Q.M., Altaf Hussain, is responsible. The burger vs. bun kebab divide has turned deadly.

Shams said...

I noticed that you ignored to add PML-N, PTI, JUI-F, all supporters and aiders and abettors of the most terrorist organizations like TTP. These parties fund TTP, did condone their acts, and now want to bring them onboard as "stake-holders."

This is exactly why you are not fit to comment on anything MQM, or PPP

Suhail said...

TTP is the by far the largest and strongest militant group in the country including Karachi. It is supported by major political parties including PML(N), PTI, JI, JUI(F) etc. With TTP it is obvious that these parties do not need any separate militant wing, as claimed by these parties and accepted by mostly naive Pakistani political analysts.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report on Karachi's KSE-100 hitting new highs:

Pakistani stock market surged by over 500 points today to a record high of 21,500 points on heavy buying by overseas investors, amid reports government plans to sell treasury bills worth USD 5 billion to pare debt.

The Karachi Stock Exchange's benchmark 100-share index closed 2.59 per cent, or 542.86 points, higher at 21,501.72.

"The market was buoyed by reports today that the new government plans to sell USD 5 billion in treasury bills to pay off a chain of debt that has led to power crisis and is affecting the economy," Sohail Ahmed, a market analyst, said.

The new government is planning to pay off the debt within the first 100 days in power as it believes the economy will only be lifted and foreign investments will grow if the power shortage crisis is dealt with immediately, said experts.

In Lahore, Pakistan's Prime Minister-designate Nawaz Sharif pledged that the incoming PML-N government would make efforts to overcome power problem as soon as possible.

The stock market rally came after two straight days of decline.

On the previous two trading days, the stock market saw profit-booking after a wave of massive buying saw investors betting big that the crisis-ridden economy would revert back to high growth under Sharif, set to become premier for an unprecedented third term.

The Pakistani rupee also remained stable on Tuesday ending in the market on 98.43/98.49 against the US dollar.

Sharif, himself an industrialist and co-owner of diversified multi-million dollar conglomerate Ittefaq group, has said that revival of economy would be among his top priorities. He is seen by many in Pakistan as someone who can fix the country's bleeding economy.

There are only 569 listed companies on the Karachi Stock Exchange, as against about 5,000 in the Indian stock market, where total investor wealth is close to Rs 70 lakh crore.

The number of companies listed on KSE has come down in the past few years, from more than 650 in 2009, as the country's economy has been struggling amid a turbulent political scene.

However, a clear mandate in the just-held historic polls is expected to revive the economic activities and therefore the stock markets as well.

Hopewins said...

What do you think of the new Debt Jubilee Report?

Here is the news article:

And here is the actual report:

Well? Do you agree with this?

Hopewins said...

^^RH: "It would be easy to dismiss the bori threat if Altaf Husain's party did not have a track record of violence and assassinations and if he did not have direct control of Karachi's largest private militia.

MQM has 10,000 armed men with 20,000 more fighters in reserves as Wikileaks. "

Here is Hasan Nisar offering his views on the MQM.....

"I admire the MQM, it speaks my heart and my mind" -- Hasan Nisar

"I can confidently say that only MQM has the power to bring change to Pakistan" -- Hasan Nisar

"Human material of the MQM leadership is educated, well-mannered and disciplined" -- Hasan Nisar

"The Establishment propaganda can brand anybody a 'gangster'. If they so wished, they could make YOU a 'gangster' in 24 hours." -- Hasan Nisar

Don't believe whatever you read...

Riaz Haq said...

Is Nawaz Sharif a graceful victor? Does this have echoes of Jaag Punjabi Jaag?

LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif says people of Punjab have voted on rational basis while of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa have voted on emotional basis.

He was addressing his party workers in a ceremony to commemorate atomic explosions carried out by Pakistan on May 28, 1998 during Sharif’s previous tenure....

Hopewins said...

^^RH: "Is Nawaz Sharif a graceful victor? Does this have echoes of Jaag Punjabi Jaag?"

A lot of people are worried about something else with regard to the Sharif brothers.

(A) Punjabi Christians have often reported that PML(N) leaders are often seen at the head of the mobs that attack Christian homes & churches. They say that there is less peace and security for minorities when Sharifs are in power, and they openly prefer dictatorship/Army rule. With Sharif's overwhelming win, in Punjab and by consequence at the National level, they are TERRIFIED about their future in Pakistan. Asylum applications are flying around at this time.

(B) Pakistan Shias are alarmed because they saw LeJ militants and leaders openly campaigning for Sharif. Clearly, no body does that for free. Therefore, LeJ expects something in return from the Sharifs and PML(N). Now that Sharif has won overwhelming, in Punjab and by consequence at the National level, they are TERRIFIED about their future in Pakistan.

I don't think the Christians and the Shias are worried so much about "Jaag, Punjabi, Jaag"-- that would be natural and harmless. I think what worries them is the part that is not openly said, but still understood by implication, i.e. "Jaag, Shaytan, Jaag".

Suhail said...

I think it is Jaag Punjabi Jaag at RO and Punjab bureaucracy/ judiciary level; ordinary Punjabis do not matter as they will eventually fall in line. This resulted in manipulation of elections in a big way. The first and most proactive response should have come from Imran Khan, but in keeping with his trait of poor judgment (or astute cleverness of supporting common Punjabi or TTP cause, which Shams would tend to believe but I do not as I think Imran is simply stupid) he congratulated Nawaz Sharif thereby accepting the results. PTI is now waking up to this reality but too late to make any impact. They cannot even make a vociferous protest now as this will only expose Imran's stupidity.

Riaz Haq said...

Suhail: "I think it is Jaag Punjabi Jaag at RO and Punjab bureaucracy/ judiciary level; ordinary Punjabis do not matter as they will eventually fall in line. This resulted in manipulation of elections in a big way."

This reminds me of the statement of the caretaker home minister Malik Habib who endorsed PML(N) when he said last month that "Mian Nawaz Sharif is the only national leader and he wants to do something for the country. And I will vote for Khaqaan Abbasi (PMLN candidate)".

It's quite possible that Nawaz Sharif's "Jaag Punjabi Jaag" was aimed at the bureaucracy and the judiciary to get a heavy mandate for N League at the expense of Imran Khan's PTI and Bhuttos' PPP.

Suhail said...

Judiciary, bureaucracy and army are strong arms of the state and so all that matters. As Ghinwa Bhutto recently said that the people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.

With army relinquishing all its influence with the advent of Kayani, it is only bureaucracy and judiciary who matter. Since Pakistani institutions are known to be at loggerheads with one another instinctively, Jaag Punjabi Jaag is one good explanation of the two cooperating in the elections. By the way, Kayani is now commonly referred to as Khusra-in-Chief, as no other reason has come up so far to explain his actions (rather inaction) in giving up the position of strength in the state structure at a time when army was the most powerful in a long time with resumption of US cooperation after 2001. Kayani may eventually come to be known as the Gorbachev of Pakistan if things turn out as Shams is hoping.

Of the Pakistani politicians, intellectuals and public opinion leaders, I have come across only one person of understanding, Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri, who has understandably been thrown out of Pakistani politics by the common vested interests of bureaucracy, judiciary, politicians and sold out media. See his viewpoint on the election process below.

Dr. Danish like other media persons is another naive or saleable person so this interview is just the tip of the iceberg. You need to explore further into the phenomenon of electioneering for better understanding.

Hopewins said...

^^RH quotes: "Mr Sharif has long advocated a soft line. The TTP’s offer of talks with the government should, he said recently, be taken seriously. ...It is unlikely that Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the army chief, approves of any of this.."

TTP: Bad Guy
Sharif: Good Cop
Kiyani: Bad Cop

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a CPJ article on risks to journalists in Pakistan:

Among the more 200,000 Pakistanis living in London is Altaf Hussain, leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement. This powerful political party is widely thought to be behind the murder of reporter Wali Khan Babar, a rising star at Geo TV who was shot dead in Karachi in 2011. His coverage focused on politically sensitive topics such as extortion, targeted killings, electricity thefts, land-grabbing, and riots.

Police arrested several suspects affiliated with the MQM, but the investigation into Babar's death fell apart when five people connected to the investigation--witnesses and law enforcement officials--were systematically murdered, one by one. The two original prosecutors were threatened and forced to flee the country.

The brutality of the Babar case was highlighted during a discussion in London on Friday of CPJ's special report, Roots of Impunity, which examined the unsolved murders of 23 Pakistani journalists over the past decade. The discussion, at Chatham House, featured the report's author, Elizabeth Rubin, and the Pakistani author and CPJ board member, Ahmed Rashid.

In Pakistan, the fear is such that journalists will not go on the record to speak about the MQM, Rubin said. She described a cycle of violence and impunity where journalists are targeted not only by militants, criminals, and warlords, but also by political, military, and intelligence operatives.

"They are caught in an undeclared war between the U.S. and Pakistan, or between the different factions in the country ... and until that is resolved, they will continue to pay," Rubin said.

Hostilities against journalists are nothing new in Pakistan. Rashid described the journalist imprisonments of past generations as having evolved into the targeted killings of today. At the same time, a traditionally weak civil society has forced the media to take on a primary role in investigating and denouncing social ills and official misdeeds. Journalists "are bribed, cajoled, threatened and ultimately even killed," said Rashid, who noted that the "war on terror" has left Pakistani authorities free to act with impunity against the press.

The root of the problem, Rashid said, is the government's dual policy of allowing the Taliban and other militant groups to operate freely even as they take part in international efforts to stem terrorism. This has given the Pakistani military and intelligence services an unlimited mandate with no accountability.

The issue extends beyond Pakistan's borders. Hussain's speeches from London are broadcast in full throughout Pakistan, Rashid said, who expressed dismay at "the stunning silence of the British government" regarding the MQM's violent activities and its involvement in the killing of Babar.

Rubin and Rashid expressed hope as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif shapes a new agenda. The most important steps the government can take, said Rashid, are to reopen the cases of journalists killed with impunity and to make public the undisclosed investigative reports into those killings. One such report involves the killing of Hayatullah Khan, a freelance journalist who was kidnapped and found dead in 2006 after receiving threats from Pakistani security forces, Taliban members, and local tribesmen. The day before his abduction, Khan had photographed the remnants of a U.S. missile believed to have killed a senior Al-Qaeda figure, an image that contradicted Pakistan's official accounts of the killing.....

Anonymous said...

BBC2 Newsnight documentary on MQM and Altaf Hussain's money launderting and threats of violence against opponents and investigations into Imran Farooq murder

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Guardian report on MQM Chief Altaf Hussain:

Pakistan's most vibrant, vivacious and popular 24-hour news channel, Geo TV, generally has little difficulty recruiting staff. Its headquarters are in Karachi, Pakistan's so called "city of dreams" – a massive, sprawling conurbation with 20 million residents seeking a better life. And yet there was one vacancy recently that Geo TV could not fill. The channel wanted a lookalike for its popular satirical show, in which actors play the parts of the country's leading politicians. It was a job offering instant stardom and good money. And not a single person in Karachi was willing to do it.

The man Geo TV sought to satirise was Altaf Hussain, the leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). And the reason no one applied was the fear that if Altaf Hussain were unamused by the performance, the actor playing him would be murdered.
It's difficult to know how many murder cases have been registered against Altaf Hussain, but perhaps the most authoritative number was released in 2009 when the then Pakistani president General Pervez Musharraf implemented his National Reconciliation Order, granting most of the country's senior politicians an amnesty. One of the biggest beneficiaries was Hussain, against 72 cases were dropped, including 31 allegations of murder. The MQM rejects all the murder charges lodged against Hussain.
Right from the start the police raids in the investigation have produced rich material. Shortly after the 2010 murder the police found a significant number of papers stashed in Farooq's home. Some of the documents gave credence to the confessions made by a number of suspected MQM militants in Karachi. Repeatedly, MQM activists there had told the Pakistani authorities they were trained in India. Asked on numerous occasions over a period of several weeks about its relationship with the MQM, Indian government officials have failed to make any statement on the matter. Recent police raids have turned up £150,000 at the party's Edgware's offices and £250,000 at Hussain's house in Mill Hill.

The police say they are making significant progress in the Farooq murder case and have an ever-clearer understanding of what they believe was a conspiracy to kill him. Their investigation, however, is complicated by the fact that the MQM has supporters deep within the Pakistani state who want to protect it, and more cynical actors such as Pakistan's main intelligence agency, the ISI, which want to control it.
As Hussain suggests in the letter, British interest in the MQM is largely driven by the perception that the party offers a defence against jihadis. But there is more to it than that. The MQM is British turf: Karachi is one of the few places left on earth in which the Americans let Britain take the lead. The US consulate in Karachi no longer runs active intelligence gathering operations in the city. The British still do. When it comes to claiming a place at the top table of international security politics – London's relationship with the MQM is a remaining toehold.

And there's something else. The FCO's (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) most important currency is influence. Successive Pakistani governments, when they are not demanding Hussain's extradition, have included his parliamentary bloc in various coalition governments. From the FCO's point of view, it's a great source of access. Right on their doorstep, in London, they have a man with ministers in the Pakistani government...

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Guardian report on London Police investigations into Altaf Husain:

The MQM's most vocal critic today is cricketer-turned-playboy-turned-Islamist-politician Imran Khan. In 2007, portraying himself as the man who dared to confront even the most entrenched political interests, Khan paid a visit to the Metropolitan police in London to hand over, he claimed, evidence of Hussain's wrongdoing. Apparently unimpressed with the quality of that evidence, the police did not bring any charges and Khan let the issue drop. But in May this year when one of his best-known party activists in Karachi, Zahra Shahid Hussain, was shot down outside her home, Khan openly accused the MQM of her murder. Thousands of his social media-savvy supporters were encouraged to complain to the British police. More than 12,000 did so and the police responded by, for the first time, formally investigating Altaf Hussain's London activities.

There are a number of strands to the Met's inquiries. First there is the issue of whether the MQM leader is using his London base to incite violence in Pakistan. In assessing that, the police have a huge amount of material to sift through, much of it online. At his birthday party in 2009, for example, he regaled his guests with a remark aimed at Pakistan's rich landowners and businessmen: "You've made big allegations against the MQM. If you make those allegations to my face one more time you'll be taking down your measurements and we'll prepare your body bags."

Because he is in London, Hussain addresses rallies in Karachi over the telephone. Crowds gather to listen to his voice through loudspeakers. In one such speech he had this message for TV anchors: "If you don't stop the lies and false allegations that damage our party's reputation, then don't blame me, Altaf Hussain, or the MQM if you get killed by any of my millions of supporters."

Most of his threats have been aimed at people in Pakistan but at least one was directed at the UK journalist Azhar Javaid who asked a question once too often. At a press conference in September 2011 Hussain warned Javaid that his "body bag was ready".

Adressing those whom he accused of denying the Mohajirs their rights, in December 2012, Hussain ranted: "If your father won't give us freedom just listen to this sentence carefully: then we will tear open your father's abdomen. To get our freedom we will not only tear it out of your father's abdomen but yours as well."

Partly because of the difficulty of establishing unchallengeable translations of Hussain's words, it might be months before the police decide whether to recommend a prosecution. In the meantime there is talk of a private prosecution. Long-time MQM critic George Galloway MP recently set up a fund to pay the legal fees of such an initiative.

On two occasions British judges have found that the MQM is a violent organisation. In 2010 a Karachi-based police officer sought asylum in the UK claiming the MQM was threatening to kill him in revenge for his having registered a case against one of its members. The judge, Lord Bannatyne, granted asylum and in his judgment accepted that: "the MQM has killed over 200 police officers who stood up to them in Karachi"....

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Riaz Haq said...

With mainstream suspicion of the MQM’s ‘ethnic’ politics and in clinging on to this image of the party, critics seldom take account of the MQM’s complex and highly organised – though rigidly hierarchical and violently policed – structure through which it has been able to ingratiate itself into the networks of patronage and service delivery that characterise everyday politics in Karachi and many other parts of Pakistan. It is this intervention in the everyday, quotidian politics of electricity connections, telephone lines, water supply and channelling of youth energies (through collective activities) that generates the spontaneous consent the MQM generates among large swathes of Karachi’s Urdu-speaking middle and working classes. Moreover, it is exactly such mechanisms of service delivery that interact with its minutely organised local units and militant wing to generate the MQM’s ‘dual power’ structure in Karachi as (almost) an alternative state. The refusal to see the MQM as a complex reality beyond its militant wing also obscures the very real imbalances in Pakistan’s power structure and Karachi’s political economy which laid the groundwork for the party’s emergence. Most serious observers and scholars of Pakistan are aware of the shift in Pakistan’s civil-military state apparatuses since the 1960s, and especially following Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s civil service reforms. Since the late 1970s, the suppression of Karachi’s once vibrant labour movement, weaponisation due to civil-military elites’ participation in American imperialism’s ever-expanding war machine, demographic changes due to in-migration from other parts of Pakistan, state patronage of fundamentalist groups, and intensification of certain forms of labour control and informality, have created ripe conditions for the rise of various types of exclusivist, proto-fascist groups. Thus, the relative marginalisation of Urdu-speaking middle classes from Pakistan’s power structure and changes in Karachi’s political economy due to the above mentioned factors created ideal conditions for the emergence of a new type of political subject which, while drawing upon historical tropes of sacrifice, would interact with existing narratives of regional/ethnic marginalisation of other communities in Pakistan, to forge a ‘threatened’ Urdu-speaking community. The MQM also channelled existing discourses of modernisation which intersected with its class and ethnic bases to create the image and rhetoric of a ‘liberal’ and ‘secular’ party. However, a detailed elaboration of the MQM’s political identity is beyond the scope of this piece. Suffice it to say, the popularity of its brand of politics was less a conspiracy of indiscriminate coercion and/or foreign forces than the result of contingent political articulations growing organically out of Karachi and Pakistan’s changing social realities. Coming to our present predicament, it has to be recognised that many of the structural conditions that led to the rise of the MQM and other exclusivist groups in Karachi remain in force today with even greater intensity. These include Pakistani elites’ continued embroilment in the American war machine, continuous retreat of the welfare arm of the state, the unprecedented in-migration into Karachi (unparalleled in any other mega-city in the world) post-2005 earthquake and civil war in northwest Pakistan, and intensification of informality in both workplace and residential area politics. However, while conditions still remain ripe for the rise of protofascist and violent political forces in Karachi, in light of the changing demographics of the city and the MQM’s inability to reinvent itself – name change notwithstanding – as ‘Muttahida’ rather than ‘Mohajir’, the days of untrammelled dominance of the MQM in Karachi are inevitably bound to come to an end.

Riaz Haq said...

How Pakistan’s Most Feared Power Broker Controlled a Violent Megacity From London

Though he was born in Karachi in 1953, Hussain has always identified as a Mohajir—a term that refers to those, like his parents, who left India after partition. In Agra, about 140 miles south of Delhi, Hussain’s father had a prestigious job as a railway-station manager. In Karachi he could only find work in a textile mill, and then died when Hussain was just 13, leaving his 11 children dependent on Hussain’s brother’s civil-service salary as well as what their mother earned sewing clothes. Such downward mobility was common among Mohajirs, who were the target of discrimination by native residents of Sindh, the Pakistani state of which Karachi is the capital. Hussain was enraged by his community’s plight. He and a group of other Mohajir students founded the MQM in 1984, and Hussain gained a reputation for intense devotion to the cause. After one protest, when he was 26, he was jailed for nine months and given five lashes.

Religiously moderate and focused on reversing discriminatory measures, the MQM built a large following in Karachi, winning seats in the national and provincial parliaments. It didn’t hurt, according to UK diplomatic cables and two former Pakistani officials, that it received support from the military, which saw the party as a useful bulwark against other political factions. Although Hussain never stood for elected office, he was the inescapable face of the MQM, his portrait plastered all over the many areas it dominated.

From the beginning, the MQM’s operations went well beyond political organizing. As communal violence between ethnic Mohajirs, Sindhis, and Pashtuns worsened in the mid-1980s, Hussain urged his followers at a rally to “buy weapons and Kalashnikovs” for self-defense. “When they come to kill you,” he asked, “how will you protect yourselves?” The party set up weapons caches around Karachi, stocked with assault rifles for its large militant wing. Meanwhile, Hussain was solidifying his grip on the organization, lashing out at anyone who challenged his leadership. In a February 1991 cable, a British diplomat named Patrick Wogan described how, according to a high-level MQM contact, Hussain had the names of dissidents passed to police commanders, with instructions to “deal severely with them.” (Hussain denies ever giving instructions to injure or kill anyone).

Even the privileged came under direct threat. One elite Pakistani, who asked not to be identified due to fear of retribution, recalled angering the party by having the thieving manager of his family textile factory arrested, unaware the employee was an MQM donor. One afternoon in 1991, four men with guns forced themselves into the wealthy man’s car, driving him to a farmhouse on the edge of the city. There, they slashed him with razor blades and plunged a power drill into his legs. The MQM denied being behind the kidnapping, but when the victim’s family asked political contacts to lean on the party he was released, arriving home in clothes soaked with blood.