MQM has long been quite assertive in exclusively representing the largest ethno-linguistic segment of the population of Urban Sindh. There have been the phenomena like the landslide victory of MQM in the recently-held NA-246 by-polls in Karachi that often somehow augment this very perception in Pakistan. All Pakistan Muhajir Student Organization (APMSO) was founded by Altaf Hussain in 1978 which subsequently gave birth to MQM in mid-1980’s. Since its inception, Altaf Hussain has been the undisputed and unchallenged leader of MQM. He is known for having a strong grip and firm control over the political and administrative affairs of this political party. He is also believed to be the sole arbiter and chief ideologue of this political party. Therefore, the ideology of MQM can also rightly be termed as ‘Altafism’

Following Operation Clean Up in Karachi in 1992, Altaf Hussain decided to seek political asylum in UK. Now, he is a naturalized citizen of UK. This self-exiled leader of MQM has been staying in UK for the last 22 years. As a political party, there is no legal restriction on MQM in Pakistan. MQM is an active political force in the country. Presently, it is the fourth largest parliamentary political party in Pakistan. Ironically, Instead of being actively present in Pakistan to lead this political party, Altaf Hussain has deliberately chosen to stay abroad for such a long time owing to some obvious reasons. This practice is simply unprecedented in the politics of the country as well as the contemporary world.

Under Article 63 of the constitution of Pakistan and Section 99 of the Representation of People Act, 1976, a person who has acquired the citizenship of a foreign state is simply disqualified from being a Member of Parliament or provincial assemblies in Pakistan. Similarly, Section 5 of the Political Parties Order 2002 provides: “Every citizen, not being in the service of Pakistan, shall have the right to form or be a member of a political party or be otherwise associated with a political party or take part in the political activities or be elected as an office-bearer of a political party, if he is not qualified to be, or is disqualified from being a member of Parliament under Article 63 of the constitution of Pakistan or under any other law for the time being in force”. Therefore, under the law of the land, a dual citizen can, by no means, be allowed to be associated with a political party in any manner.

Strangely, not only does Altaf Hussain actively take part in the politics, but he is also leading a full-fledged political party in Pakistan, the MQM. He exercises considerable influence over the decision making process as well as political affairs of the party. He frequently delivers the telephonic addresses to his party workers in Karachi. Regrettably, no executive or judicial authority in Pakistan has ever bothered to notice this grave illegality committed by the MQM chief Altaf Hussian in Pakistan. Similarly, despite being the greatest proponent and upholder of the rule of law, the British government has also never put any significant restriction on its naturalized citizen to prevent him indulging in certain controversial political activities in another sovereign state like Pakistan. Will the UK government allow, otherwise tolerate, if the politicians like Chaudhry Sarwar or Chaudhry Nazir unilaterally decide to lead a political party in UK from the soil of Pakistan, and also make public telephonic addresses to British citizens on a daily basis?

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy”, so goes a line in the famous Shakespearean play, Hamlet. Pakistan is the only country where a dual citizen can lead a political party while staying abroad. He can openly and publically intimidate the political opponents, the media, the journalists, personnel of the law enforcing agencies, and the armed forces. This is a country where the TV channels extend uninterrupted and commercial-free marathon live coverage to such dual national politicians. This is the only country where a dual national can suddenly appear on the national political horizon asking an elected prime minister to step down in the name of revolution. This is also the only country where the very concepts like ‘representation without taxation’ and ‘representation without presence’ are openly practised.

Many Pakistani politicians have spent their lives in exile at different times. In 1984, the PPP leader Benazir Bhutto chose to stay away from Pakistan after being politically persecuted by the military dictator General Zia ul Haq. But, after two years, she courageously decided to return to Pakistan to continue her political struggle. The PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif spent several years in exile in Saudi Arabia following the 1999 military coup in Pakistan. He also returned to Pakistan despite strong political opposition from the then president Pervez Musharraf. Similarly, ending his self-imposed exile of four years in 2013, the former president General Pervez Musharraf also came back to Pakistan, and faced many criminal cases including the treason charges. However, the long self-imposed exile of MQM chief Altaf Hussain is rather inexplicable. He has never decided to return to Pakistan despite having the favourable and friendly political regime in Pakistan like that of President Pervez Musharraf.

It is a paradoxical situation that Pakistan still looks towards the UK government for indicting and convicting Altaf Hussain despite having a stockpile of criminal cases registered against him in Pakistan. It is also quite regrettable that Pakistan cannot legally proceed against the MQM despite having evidence regarding its alleged involvement in various criminal activities. Presently, former SSP Malir Rao Anwar is being criticised for irresponsibly making serious anti-state allegations against the MQM. But we shouldn’t forget that MQM has also previously managed to stay safe and sound despite almost similar allegations made by the then interior minister Sindh, Zulfiqar Mirza. Similarly, so far, nobody has seriously bothered to formally inquire into the accusations made against MQM by the death cell prisoner, Sualat Mirza.

At present, the Pakistan Army is standing shoulder to shoulder with the Law enforcing agencies in Karachi for clearing this city of criminal elements. The required degree of resolution on the part of Federal government and the so-called captain of Karachi operation, the CM Sindh is essentially missing in this entire discourse. This is the reason ISPR alone is trying to counter the malicious propaganda carried out by the MQM chief Altaf Hussain against the Pak Army. This is the time that civilian leadership must own and steer the ongoing operation in Karachi. MQM chief must seriously think about returning to Pakistan to effectively represent his political party, and face all criminal charges levelled against him at various times. The so-called ‘representation without presence’ practice in Karachi should either be ended or mended in the lager interest of the Karachiits as well as ethno-linguistic population of the Urban Sindh whom the MQM readily claims to represent.