Altaf Hussain’s hate speech against Pakistan on 22 August 2016 had a design. He cursed Pakistan in a most abusive manner and enticed people for violence against private TV Channels. Karachi police charged Altaf Hussain with treason and enticing terrorism. This madness had a method and purpose that shall be explained later. Suffice to mention that in a game plan, strangers become bedfellows of convenience. 

Two days later, in presence of the senior members of the party, Senior Deputy Convener Dr. Farooq Sattar disassociated himself and the entire party in Pakistan from the anti-country slogans, speeches of Altaf Hussain and attacks on media houses in Karachi. Eighteen hours of the intervening two days were spent by Dr. Farooq Sattar in detention with law enforcement agencies. Logically, these hours that Dr. Farooq Sattar spent were an extension of counter terrorism operations, convincing him and his colleagues that if at all they were patriotic; then Altaf Hussain was a liability. The party became MQM Pakistan by its own choice.

There were many reasons for the cunningness or desperation shown by Altaf Hussain.

First, back in March 2016, Mustafa Kamal had rebelled against Altaf Hussain and formed his own political party, attracting hardcore members of MQM to his group. Critics say that he had done so to evade blame for his friends in ‘Baldia Fire Tragedy’ or; to appear more patriotic and appease the establishment or; to genuinely rebel against an offshore leader who was fast becoming a liability. So one could make a choice whether it was expediency driven or out of sheer patriotism.

This provoked Altaf Hussain who seldom encountered dissent. In the past he had dispensed it with an iron fist. Mysterious murders of senior MQM leaders left no doubts.  

Secondly, much of space in Karachi for murder, extortion and crimes was taken over by Lyari Gangs. These had patronage of PPPP leaders. Militants were also on rise. The loss of turf war was frustrating Altaf Hussain. 

Thirdly, Karachi had become the hub of destabilising Pakistan. It intensified when Honk Kong had to be replaced as an international economic hub. List of hostile intelligence agencies involved with various gangs and factions was rising each day.  Money from crimes mentioned earlier, gun running and narcotics was being poured into this unrest. It was Karachi and not Quetta where all planning to destabilise Balochistan was executed. Altaf Hussain was part of these destabilising plans.

East of the line between Karachi to Quetta became the theatre of conflict. When counter terrorism operations began all these groups were taken head-on by law enforcement agencies. The biggest losers were Baloch factions, TTP, MQM and Layari gangs. Gulbashan Yadev had spilled beans. Hostile intelligence agencies were losing the war. Altaf Hussain took the risk of raising the ante through mass uprisings. 

Fourthly, MQM’s tirade against Pakistan and its defence establishment suited international actors who were already edging some political parties to ensure civilian supremacy. This notion also appealed to segments of liberal media and opinion makers. Altaf Hussain’s tirades were in sync. 

After the recent tiff between PSP and MQM Pakistan, PMLN shifted stance to capitalise the situation to its advantage. Having sanctioned these operations under Chaudary Nisar it is now trying to make political mileage out of the latest assertions by Dr. Farooq Sattar that, ‘the defence establishment is directly involved in pressurizing politicians’. 

For all Pakistanis, the memories of 1971 still haunt. The mess in East Pakistan by alienating Bengalis from 1906 to 1971 was created nonstop by politicians. In 1971, it was conveniently handed over to the army for the last rites. 

Therefore this must not happen again and people must not be punished for the wrongs of their leaders. Breathing spaces must be created. The pressure by law enforcement agencies on MQM to disassociate from Altaf Hussain was therefore the most logical and correct trade-off. Dr. Farooq Sattar should have taken it as redemption rather than glorifying the mayhem that cost many innocent lives in the past three decades. 

Consequently, MQM Pakistan also had a responsibility. This responsibility harbingered on mainstreaming itself and rising above ethnic politics. To achieve this, it was also the responsibility of the state to facilitate MQM Pakistan for the cause of ‘nation-building’. There is no doubt that most leaders of MQM Pakistan share this value and despise expediency. 

Unfortunately, the state in federal and provincial governments (PMLN and PPPP) is too busy playing politics and hedging corruption. A recanting political party that single handedly holds the mandate of most populated urban areas of Sindh did not suit their expediency driven politics. They wish to use them as a bargaining tool. 

Within the political sphere, loss of PS 114 by MQM Pakistan was a discouraging development towards their avowed independence from London.  It was a rejoinder that the party was losing ground. These were desperate times and a party known for only taking orders from London, suddenly had too many cooks to spoil the broth. This rush for being men of the moment had negative effects. 

The recent tiff between MQM Pakistan and PSP was bad to say the least. It took both parties back to square one and irreconcilable positions. This had more to do with the internal conflicting ideas and shooting from the hip. The two groups were communicating for eight months and what stopped them from communicating further?

But the confrontation suits the dons of corruption. Squarely, it puts the defence establishment in bad light and opens options to use MQM Pakistan as a tool for vested agendas. If MQM Pakistan succumbs to this temptation, then it has indeed plunged itself to square one. But this deliberation and choice is for the party to exercise. Mainstream, or as ever, return to the old game of petty trade-offs and violence?

Two events in Karachi are bound to cast a shadow on future.  The confessions by Uzair Baloch hit the core of PPPP leadership. Secondly the confessions and disclosures of Hammad Siddiqi that point towards criminal activities of some leaders of MQM Pakistan and PSP. It will be to the advantage of MQM Pakistan and PSP to let law take its course. 

It is immaterial whether factions of MQM ally or not. What is more important is that they the rise above petty issues and mainstream themselves.

Karachi has been hostage to such politics for far too long. Uroos ul Bilaad, the ‘bride of cities’ and ‘city of lights’ has to be restored as a cosmopolitan centre and the pituitary gland of Pakistan. A purposeful complementary alliance between politics will do wonders for syncretism in Pakistan. I am sure many political parties will be eager to join hands to bring this synergy for the nation. Time will prove if this is, ‘Truth or Fiction’.