Most days, the political landscape of Pakistan is hard to believe for its episodes of comic unfolding. There was that time when Javed Hashmi was ‘President’ for the PTI supporters one moment, and the absolute scum of the earth, the very next. Then there was this moment when PML-N wanted to hang Zardari in the middle of the road one day, and was hugging him as an ally of democracy the very next. In Sindh, the PPP leaders defend the drunken stupors of their Chief Ministers most days, and swing between supporting Zulfiqar Mirza and Asif Zardari on others.

But perhaps the incontestable crown of comedy (nay, absolutely denigration) in politics belongs to Altaf Hussain alone!

This abominable political ‘leader’, who has been dubbed as “London ka joker” on social media, continues to push the very limits of ridiculousness in politics. It was just the spell-binding (venom spitting?) telephonic jalsas at first, which then became the signing of songs (Parde mein rehne do…), and then hopelessly weeping for hours on nationally televised addresses, to drunken slurring, to threats of body-bags and targeted assassinations. Yet, for some inexplicable reason, the loyalty (fear?) of his party supporters bails him out, each time, from what seem to be irretrievable faux pas!

In the latest episode of Altaf Hussain’s ludicrous behaviours, he decided to, inter alia, call members of the armed forces “criminals”, cursed (literally) officials of the law enforcement agencies, instructed the “youth” of his political party to obtain guerrilla warfare training, and finally threatened that he might seek help from the Indian intelligence agency (RAW), in case Pakistan Army and Rangers continue their operation against MQM operatives.

As is customary, immediately after the toxic rant, Altaf Hussain was revived to his senses (or what is left of his senses, at least), and decided to issue an “apology”. In the days to come, he and his supporters will issue meaningless statements about their love for the armed forces, for Pakistan, and will insist about their patriotism for this land. There will be a few talk-shows discussing Altaf Hussain’s lunacy, an uptick in Facebook and Twitter messages against the MQM, and then, as has been the practice in our past, everyone will ‘let it go’. We will move onto the next political drama. Slowly and gradually, Altaf Hussain’s supporters will find some issue to pledge their loyalty to the State, and defend their indefensible leader.

This is business as usual in Pakistan.

How long will we let this continue? How long will we make political excuses for those who blatantly threaten the existence and peace of Pakistan? How long will the people of Karachi, the people of Pakistan, continue to stay mum and seal their tongues, out of fear of this lunatic and his antics of terror? How long will we wait for that day when Pakistan politics will see a new leadership in MQM? A leadership that truly, and peacefully, represents the voice and plight of the Muhajir population. How long will the Muhajir cause – of equality, of representation, of economic opportunities – be sabotaged by its self-proclaimed leaders? How long will MQM, in Karachi, be synonymous to the images of target-killers? How will we tolerate lunacy as leadership? Perversion, as political power? Crime as a legitimate negotiation ploy? And terrorism as sectarian culture?

The responsibility to remove Altaf Hussain as the voice of the otherwise legitimate political demands of Muhajirs, rests with the people of Pakistan. It is not solely the cause of Sindh Police, or Pakistan Rangers, or even the Army, to take on MQM’s politics of terror. It is, first and foremost, the obligation of MQM workers, and the people of Pakistan in general, to call Altaf Hussain’s rhetoric for what it is: violent and treasonous. And then to, democratically, look past Altaf Hussain and find legitimate and peaceful leadership within the ranks of MQM.

This persistent behaviour of Altaf Hussain, and inevitable excuses we make for it, reminds me of a famous psychological experiment, first conducted by a German scientist Heinzmann, in 1872, which speaks of how most organisms resist reacting to gradual changes in their environment and conditions. The experiment entails taking two frogs and dropping them into different pots of water, in order to observe how they react. The first frog, which is dropped into a boiling pot of water, jumps out immediately to save its life. The sudden change in temperature is so severe that the frog finds it unbearable. The second frog is placed in room-temperature water, which is then heated (ever so slowly) to the point of boiling. This frog is unable to recognise the severity of gradual increase in water temperature and, as a result, chooses not to jump out. Eventually, even while the frog is unable to realise this phenomenon, the water reaches a high enough temperature to kill the frog within (without it ever jumping out).

We should make no mistake about the fact that, when it comes to Mr. Altaf Hussain’s antics, the people of Pakistan are the second of the two frogs. Each time Mr. Altaf Hussain takes the microphone and unleashes his latest episode of anti-State violent rhetoric, the temperature of our waters gets a little bit higher, and we condone it for being only slightly more than the last time. If we let this chronic behaviour and conduct to continue, not only would we have allowed our politics and democracy to disintegrate to the lowest ebbs of history, but in the process, risk our lives (as a nation), much like the frog did.

We can continue, day after day, to allow this kind of politics to persist, like the frog that never jumped out of water. Or alternatively, we can make choose to jump out and make this stop. What happens from here on is entirely our own choice.