While Governor Salman Taseer has invited MQM to extend its activities to Punjab, the Jinnahpur episode has left the party more isolated than it ever was. Altaf Hussain's attempt to prove MQM's innocence has backfired. He has now to answer for much more than the Jinnahpur maps. In the first place the man whose support Altaf Hussain elicited to defend his party happened to be an intelligence spook known for fabricating stories to rope in innocent people and presiding over the torture of political activists and with one high profile death in custody to his discredit. Thanks the hype Altaf gave to Brig (retd) Imitaz's statement, the Jinnahpur episode which had receded into the background and forgotten by many is now on the centre stage with fresh evidence in support of the existence of Jinnahpur maps. Hints have been thrown regarding his clandestine connections with the MQM, thus making him an unreliable witness. Speaking at a TV channel Brig (retd) Saulat Raza who at that time was in the ISPR maintained that Imtiaz alias Billa leaked official secrets and that was why Gen Asif Nawaz disallowed him from attending the meetings which the political leadership at the time held with the army high command. As the period referred to is 1992, Billa presumably passed on sensitive information regarding the impending operation to MQM. As he had himself become a party, his statement regarding Jinnahpur maps is likely to be taken with a pinch of salt. An ISI major responsible for the area around MQM headquarters in 1992 claimed on a TV channel that he had personally recovered these maps from the MQM Markaz and that Billa was simply lying. Maj Gen (retd) Safdar Ali Khan who was at the time DG Rangers has confirmed that the Jinnahpur maps were definitely recovered. So does Brig (retd) Saulat Raza who says maps, flags, and related literature were found at the MQM office soon after June 19 when the operation was initiated. While Billa is known as a man with an axe to grind, the three military officers are entirely apolitical and have never spoken on the issue before. This lends credence to their statements. People closely associated with Sindh affairs during 1980s and 1990s have brought to light inside information which is highly damaging for the MQM and its leader. Maj Gen (retd) Safdar Ali Khan has reminded that Altaf Hussain had started his political career by burning Pakistan's flag at a pubic rally. He says he was GOC Hyderabad in 1987 when Altaf and Jiye Sindh held a joint public gathering in the city. Altaf torched the flag at the meeting and said that accepting Pakistan was a great blunder. Safdar Ali Khan said he had asked Commissioner Hyderabad, Ali Mohammad Sheikh, to arrest Altaf but was told that Gen Zia had ordered that Altaf should not be touched. Among the issues that has again popped up is that of the relations between military rulers and MQM. Maj Gen (retd) Safdar Ali Khan was positive that the organisation had been created by Ziaul Haq "to weaken the PPP and Jamaat-i-Islami in Sindh and that it was strengthened for eight years by Musharraf. According to him, the 1992 operation was stopped by Ghulam Ishaq Khan because he did not want to weaken the MQM against these two parties. He dismisses the figure of 15,000 dead in the operation which according to him was stopped within a month without achieving its target. Only those who resorted to armed resistance got killed and their number was small, he said. According to him, if the operation had been allowed to achieve it targets, Karachi would have been a peaceful city today. He is definite that extortion under the name of bhatta was definitely a practice resorted by MQM. While one can strongly differ with some of the tactics of PPP's Interior Minister Naseerullah Babar that amounted to violation of human rights, he had the guts to own the 1995 operation against MQM on grounds that the party had challenged the writ of the state, established 'no-go' areas, and indulged in bhatta, torture and killing. Mian Nawaz on the other hand was double-minded about the 1992 operation. He had similar complaints against the MQM and initially agreed to the operation. But soon after he developed cold feet, perhaps he had had inkling into Gen Asif Nawaz Janjua's political ambitions, and withdrew support from the operation. Nawaz subsequently proceeded to London where he met Altaf. This weakened the army's resolve to continue the operation. One wonders why the MQM leadership decided to open the can of worms. Was it to divert attention from the court proceedings on May 12 mayhem where the party is in the dock? Or was it to detract the PML-N from pursuing Musharraf's trial? Whether the party acted on its own or was used by someone else, the result is the same. It is now being required to explain many more questions about its past. "The more you unravel a ball made of rags," says a Punjabi proverb, "the greater the number of shreds that are bound to be discovered." E-mail: azizuddin@nation.com.pk