MQM’s political future remains shrouded in uncertainty with Altaf Hussain’s London chapter refusing to back off without a fight. In the latest efforts to reassert control over the party, Nadeem Nusrat, former Convener of the party (residing in London), has now expelled the new Convener, Karachi’s Farooq Sattar for “repeated betrayals to the party and the supreme leadership.”

The only ‘betrayal’ Mr Sattar can be held accountable for is looking to the best interests of the party and finally choosing to stop blindly supporting a leader that was running the party into the ground.

The violent tendencies within MQM, irrational decisions of the past, and attracting the ire of the establishment for anti-state statements can all be attributed to one man; Altaf Hussain. This is why supporting the London chapter was no longer an option for MQM political workers in Karachi.

Farooq Sattar in particular, stuck with the MQM supremo through thick and thin, even when his own political reputation was more than tarnished as a result. The last statement by Altaf Hussain was treasonous, and anyone supporting it within Pakistan could have been charged for sedition. Farooq Sattar took a decision to save his party and its workers from self-destruction, at a time when there was nothing else to be done.

MQM activists in Karachi seem to understand this too. When the decision to cut Altaf from the equation was announced by Sattar after Altaf Hussain’s controversial speech in August, everyone fell in line, because they too, realised the ramifications of shouting death chants for the country they are fighting for political representation in.

On paper, Nadeem Nusrat and Altaf Hussain were indeed above Farooq Sattar in the MQM hierarchy. But with self-imposed exiles in London and potential trials of treason waiting for them at Pakistan, both know that the legitimacy lies with Farooq Sattar and the other leaders in Karachi.

This is only a sad attempt at undermining the Karachi leadership, which is doing the actual legwork of running the party and holding on to an increasingly fragmented voter base; this is how hard work is repaid. Altaf realises that Karachi is still MQM’s for the most part, but he knows his cult of personality is almost irrelevant. Looking to expel actual leaders of the party may cause fractures in the unity displayed by the party after August, and this is exactly what the London chapter is looking for.

Breaking away from Altaf was never going to be easy. MQM in Karachi needs to stand united now that the London chapter is looking for an opening to slide back into control.