MQM – in Punjab, NWFP, and Baluchistan!
by Dr Nadia Khan
While MQM is trying to enter Punjab province and they had conducted a ‘successful’ political comeback-procession recently probably when Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had given soft eye to their arrangements, but there are few points to note with respect to their own ‘territory’ – Karachi.
The “kingdom” of MQM is now on shaky grounds, if the party workers could accept this truth. Altaf Hussain had realized that since long however he could not disclose this openly to his workers. Recent statement of Prime Minister Gilani to change the status of Hyderabad that was divided into 4 districts five years ago by the then infamous Chief Minster Ghulam Arbab Rahim of Sind, just to benefit MQM politically through these administrative divide, few political analysts say, had made MQM at backfoot!
Since long MQM’s claim that ‘Taliban hardcore members are arriving in Karachi’ could now be understood easily. What MQM means when they refer to ‘Taliban in Karachi!’ They indirectly refer to Pathans and wanted to control their presence or arrival in Karachi somehow as it might disturb the electioneering-balance against the Muhajir community – the prime vote bank of MQM since two decades! That’s how Pakhtoons arrival in Sind and especially in Karachi is considered by MQM as a serious threat for their survival. Since then former dictator Musharraf had divided the constituencies into further disintegration and represented by small groups of people, it might create another catastrophe to Mujahir community in common and MQM in special.
Areas like Baladiya Town, Sher Shah, Orangi Town, Banaras or some joining parts of central district such as areas starting from Abdullah Girls College, soon after Paposhnager grave yard creates safe belts for Pakhtoons.
Second, vicinities such as Lasbella, Patel BaRa, Suhrab Goth just before Gulshan e Maymar then locations such as North Nazimabad from Ship-owner college including Block S where mountains are side by side and Sabzi Mandi are also not considered as heaven for Muhajir community.
Third factor, mostly the transport business (Taxis, Rickshawas, Busses, Wagons, and Trucks) is controlled by Pathans in the city. If they want to decide for strike no one can dictate their terms on to them. Hence the thin traffic in Liaquatabad, Nazimabad, North Karachi, Gulshan e Iqbal or Gulistan e Johar could tell the truth as who is owing to Karachi traffic! Former Nazim Mustafa Kamal efforts to bring green buses in Karachi and preferably Muhajir drivers were given chance to operate them did not add any significant change to Karachi –existing chaotic traffic.
Last but not least, Leyari is out of MQM reach even by being part of Karachi. MQM failed to secure any provincial or national assembly seat from that constituency since ages. The new addition to this ‘kingdom within kingdom’ will be areas near by Hawksbay or Zaman Town or small towns after Abul Hasan Isfphani Road where both Sindhi settlers and Balochi are swiftly taking ground.
Even though MQM is utilizing the presence of 3 million Bengalis or Beharis settled either in Gulshan e Behaar, BaRaboard, Orangi town to counter the growing activities of Pathans but it appears that in next 10 years the demographics of Karachi will change drastically. It will go back to 1950s Karachi where multiple ethnic communities exist and they had learnt the art of living together peacefully soon after 1947 partition unlike today’s biased culture of ethnic divide.
Keeping above distribution of ethnic divide within a single city one can easily predict that the city is like a bombshell. As long as communal harmony does not exist the painful history of 1986 could be repeated anytime when late Bushara Zaidi, a Govt college for women student, had killed by a yellow dagger driver and then Muhajir-Pathan riots had taken the whole city by storm in which hundreds of innocent Muhajir or Pathans had lost their lives.
Though it was a hoax call from MQM – Taliban in Karachi, but ANP has to prove their presence through election and by winning few seats here in Karachi. If so they could reciprocate MQM’s claim – we own Karachi (Karachi kis ka, MQM ka)- in a nice way!
ANP provincial chapter has celebrated their joy for renaming the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) province as Khayber Pakhtunkhwah, in Karachi. This is a question mark as celebrating it in a city that is thousand of kilometers away from their province, is not only thought provoking but alarming too! The attendance was, not very much, but the collection of Pathan residents of Karachi at a common place and a common call by ANP is an alarming sign for MQM!
Shahi Syed, the provincial leader of ANP and a Dubai-based businessperson who is now at the driving seat of Sind ANP, remarks, “those who are willing to live with us in Karachi as brothers are only welcomed’ confirms that Pathans will not accept anything from their Karachi-brothers other than allowance to live with them side by side as equal citizen in this turbulent city!
So the time is come for MQM to re look at their strategy of Karachi kis ka to a society where all communities could co exists and thrives. Especially in an environment when they are willing to extend their political horizon in Punjab. Same could be true, if MQM could roll out their “anti-wadera-jageerdar” slogan in NWFP, now Khayber Pakthtoonkhawa province. Urduvi – a University-based students union or group, was MQM initial strategy for Urdu-speaking students, but badly failed, in Baluchistan educational institutions to take ground. The appeal to those who had migrated in 1947, but settled in Baluchistan since then, is yet to take roots but somehow the recent killings of academicians raise concerns for non-Baloch settlers. Though, Altaf Hussain is hard-line supporter of Baluchistan Nationalistic parties but yet to establish ground reality for MQM to enter there politically.
The delay of local bodies’ (LB) election by PPP-led Sind provincial govt has put MQM at back foot. None of the stalwarts of PPP Sind will allow MQM a clean sweep in forthcoming LB elections, if they happen to be held this year, like before. The tone of Zulfiqar Mirza, current provincial Home Minister and a close aide of President Zardari, has informed MQM International leadership that the ship of local bodes will not reach its destination, likely this year.
Nawaz Sharif or Munawar Hassan of JI or Imaran Khan of PTI could not become a partner choice for MQM or Altaf Hussain in any case. Hence, in a sense, MQM is isolated in their own home-town Karachi with Pathans gaining majority, PPP delaying LB elections and ready for fierce bargain to form PPP-led Nazim govt in Sind, Islamic groups such as Sunni Tehreek, who wear green turban, are not inclined towards MQM philosophy of Muhajirism. The way is not as smooth for MQM leadership as it was in 1988 or 1993 or 1999 when a military coup had brought MQM in lime light while giving legitimacy to a dictator who has quashed constitution twice during his tenure!
The last hope of MQM will be CJ Iftikhar Muhhamd Chaudhary to knock the doors of Supreme Court for quick conduction of LB elections in Sind or Karachi but 12th May 2007 is not washed away from the eyes of all including Supreme Court! What a tragedy and a revenge of nature, the same Chief Justice will become last hope for those who didn’t allow them to enter into their “kingdom” on 12th May 2007!
Dr Nadia Khan is an educationist, writer, and social worker. She writes about Islam, Pakistan, and Women issues.