MQM Needs Reorganization
By Sajjad Shaukat
In the past few years, gang warfare, criminal activities and target killings have taken the lives of thousands of persons including the personnel of the Rangers and Police in Karachi. A rise of sectarian violence has also resulted into several casualties.
The present operation against terrorists, target killers, kidnappers, land mafia and “Batha khaur” (Illegal money obtainers) continues unabated, while the Rangers and Police have arrested several criminals besides capturing huge catches of arms and weapons.
The Present Government led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif launched the targeted operation after obtaining consensus of all stakeholders like political parties, business community and members of civil society who wanted peace in Karachi. In this regard, Karachi had been handed over to the Rangers with power to take action against the culprits without any discrimination.
In this context, Chief Minister of Sindh Syed Qaim Ali shah said on September 15, 2013 that the targeted operation initiated without any discrimination and the Rangers and Sindh Police had been directed that even not to spare any person belonging to ruling party, if involved in crime.
On the other side, last year, leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Governor Sindh Ishratul Ibad Khan had submitted his resignation, as MQM dubbed the operation with the pretext that it is against its office bearers. While, this party had itself supported the operation, and even demanded to hand over Karachi to Army. It was illogical reaction of the MQM which has dominating position in Karachi, and wanted to blackmail the federal government by creating hurdles in the operation.
In fact, MPA of MQM, Nadeem Hashmi was arrested on September 10, 2013 owing to firing at a police mobile in the Haideri area of the city in which the two policemen were killed. In the same month, some MQM workers were arrested, who were found involved in criminal activities, while the founder and leader of MQM Altaf Hussain had condemned the raid on MQM’s offices.
Recently, the paramilitary force proved that the MQM was behind the Baldia Town factory fire in which 250 persons were killed. On February 8, this year, the Rangers also arrested a senior MQM worker namely Rafiq Rajput who not only ran a team of ‘hit men’ but was also involved in the May 12, 2007 carnage in the Karachi.
On February 10, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan disclosed that MQM Chief Altaf Hussain based in London has let loose a “reign of terror” in Karachi. He elaborated, “I am absolutely clear that the MQM is responsible for bringing Karachi to a stage where nobody is safe at the hands of the party’s armed wing. Now with the revelation of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report in which Mr Hussain’s party has been held responsible for the killing of over 250 Baldia Town factory workers…the responsibility now lies with the federal government to take action against the perpetrators of the tragic incident.”
The MQM responded with shrewd tactics, with the Rabita Committee, taking the PTI chairman to task over his remarks against the MQM chief—and held a rally in Karachi in this respect.
Earlier, Imran Khan even went to London and approached the Scotland Yard for action against Altaf Hussain. However, Imran Khan also once again pledged to take Altaf Hussain to the British court, as he is also behind the killing of PTI’s leader Zahra Shahid and journalist Wali Babar in Karachi.
However, in response, Altaf Hussain who had earlier blamed Pak Army and Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) for arrest and harassment of MQM workers in order to conceal criminal acts of his party members—in a telephonic address, also made some derogatory remarks against PTI spokesperson Shireen Mazari and other women-members of the party. But, MQM Chief Altaf Hussain on February 10 apologized to Shireen Mazari for his insulting remarks.
Despite it, PTI decided on February 11 that the party leadership will not take back its letter to the British High Commission, urging to take action against MQM leader Altaf Hussain for “using British territory to incite people to violence in Pakistan.”
Nevertheless, the real character of the MQM Chief Altaf Hussain needs analysis. In this context, it is notable that sometimes, he blames Pak Army and ISI for harassing his party workers, calling the residents of Karachi to defend themselves, sometimes, he admires these security agencies, sometimes, he threatens to separate Karachi from the federation, sometimes, he shows a strong sense of patriotism for Pakistan, sometimes, he suspends the membership of his party’s committee or sector incharges, sometimes, he restores the same, sometimes, he submits his own resignations, sometimes, he takes it back, sometimes, he instructs his party to join Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, and sometimes, Pakistan Peoples Party, especially when these parties are in government. He also blackmails these mainstream parties for the advantages of MQM at the cost of peace in Karachi.
In fact, full of confusion, the contradictory statements of Altaf Hussain including his changing stance display his real face, as he wants to continue armed wing of the MQM.
It is mentionable that Zulfiqar Mirza, Sindh Home Minister and Senior Vice President of the then ruling party—Pakistan Peoples Party claimed on April 9, 2011 that he had been relieved from his ministry owing to pressure from the government’s coalition partner, the MQM.
Mirza revealed that the issue of target killing and extortion was just a ruse to remove him from his post. He added that the police had arrested the murderers of Geo News reporter Wali Khan Babar—the real “culprits belong to the MQM.”
It is worth-mentioning that in June 3, 2014, Altaf Hussain was arrested by Scotland Yard Police in London. London Police and agencies were holding investigation against him in three cases including money laundering, after recovery of 7 Lac pounds from Altaf Hussain home and office in London—controversial speeches from London and Imran Farooq murder case. In this regards, in his article, Salman Mugsi wrote on August 27, 2011, “Altaf Hussain designated Waseem Akhtar in Karachi to arrange for the murder of Imran Farooq. Waseem Akhtar gave this task to Khalid Shameem and Hammad Siddiqui, who are incharge of militant wing of the MQM in Karachi. Khalid Shameem picked two boys from the student wing of MQM, APMSO and arranged students-visas for them for England. These boys reached London, followed Imran Farooq for few days and noted his routines and then carried out his assassination according to the plan.”
As regards “Batha khauri”, everyone in Karachi knows that MQM has been collecting this illegal money from the local businessmen, owners of the factories and shops, who are afraid of threats or terror-related actions of this party’s the militant wing. While a majority of the innocent people of the city and followers of the MQM do not know the malpractices and criminal activities of this political party and are being misguided by their old leaders who act upon the directions of Altaf Hussain.
The loyal Pakistanis, living in Karachi must know that Karachi is Pakistan’s largest port and financial hub with the largest commercial markets, collecting 70 per cent of the country’s tax revenue. So, besides causing unrest in the city, creating instability in Pakistan, another aim of the MQM is to cripple the economy of the city which is intermittently brought to a halt with shut-down strikes—many shops including other business centers are forced to be closed. And, old leadership of MQM misguides the people by propagating that national institutions are not made to develop other areas of Pakistan like Karachi.
Nevertheless, MQM Chief Altaf Hussain who has also been creating prejudices through his misperceptions by inciting the residents of Karachi including moderate members of his party—termed the targeted operation in Karachi as replay of 1992, alleging that the establishment is once again doing the “ethnic cleansing of Muhajirs.” He further asked the party workers to physically get ready to face state oppression.
In September, 2013, Attorney General submitted a government report before the Supreme Court of Pakistan, disclosing that Mohajir Republic Army was present in Karachi. For face-saving, MQM denied its truth, terming it as ridiculous, while others demanded to launch a targeted operation against criminal gangs using the Rangers and Police.
Nonetheless, understanding the ground realties, and for restoration of peace in Karachi, the residents of the city including moderate elements must make efforts for reorganization of MQM by replacing the old leaders like Altaf Hussain, Farooq Sattar etc. with the new ones. For the purpose, all the peace-loving segments of society of Karachi belonging to MQM will have to take bold decision jointly, without being afraid of MQM’s militant wing.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations