A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman, of the next generation. James Freeman Clarke The writing is on the wall, yet some politicians like always are not reading the warning carefully. Therefore, when mercurial Dr Zulfiqar Mirza lashed out at the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and his own partys Interior Minister Rehman Malik, it came as no great surprise to many. He has put the cat among the pigeons. Some politicians are now running for cover; no one seems to have the guts to take sides. However, the MQM has demanded an explanation from President Asif Ali Zardari and other senior members of his party. Whatever political manoeuvrings may take place behind-the-scenes, it is now an established fact that a vast majority of people are willing to believe what Dr Mirza had said during his press conference and subsequently afterwards. This has also been followed by several politicians, especially ANP Chief Asfandyar Wali, who are demanding that Chief Justice Chaudhry Iftikhar, since he has already taken suo moto notice of the killings and other serious violations of law that have paralysed Karachi for a long time, summon Dr Mirza to find out the truth and render justice. A few sceptics believe that whatever he said had the blessings of his party, as it has benefited the Peoples Party not only in Sindh, but also across the country. The lukewarm reaction by the PPP to Mirzas utterances in the last week or so has strengthened this belief. What he said had two dimensions: One that had an internal bearing, while the other is external, that is, connected with the US. While both these aspects are equally important, yet in the days to come the Pakistani and American leaderships will have to come up with reasonable answers. Otherwise, the Government of Pakistan may have to face the wrath of the people. Moreover, it would be in the fitness of things in case the Supreme Court of Pakistan decides to give Dr Mirza the opportunity to submit evidence of the allegations he has levelled against the MQM during his press conference. This will definitely help the court in the proceedings, but may hammer the last nail in the coffin of the PPP-MQM relationship. Since the political parties are competitors in Sindh their relationship has always been very dicey, and, therefore, it was considered to be a great achievement that they were supporting each other at the federal and provincial levels all this time. One may also recall the utterances of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who made desperate calls to all the stakeholders in Karachi that if they collectively fail to restore peace, then someone else will step in to do it. This was in fact the announcement of the hopeless/pathetic situation both the federal and provincial governments were in for failing to stop the killings of innocent people in the port city, and an admission that the policy of reconciliation had failed to bring out the desired results. Hence, calls were made to hand over Sindhs administration to the army so that law and order could be restored, and those who were responsible for creating the Karachi mayhem could be taken to task. Some even heard the rumbling of hard, heavy boots coming too close for comfort. The mere fact that Dr Mirzas press conference came at a time when there were conflicting reports about the status of MQM Chief, who, according to the media, was unwell and admitted in hospital; he is now well and has returned home. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister also called on PML-Q leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi at the state guest house in Lahore to discuss the situation in Karachi. These developments surely point in the same direction. That intensive political negotiations are going on behind-the-scenes to ensure that the MQM is unable to create any trouble for the federal government. Even the Movements response compared to its previous reactions was weak and mild. Therefore, the situation bestows more credibility to what Mirza had said. Another issue that needs to be clarified is the role of the US administration, who is accused by the former Sindh Minister of being in collusion with Altaf Hussain and was working on a sinister plan to disintegrate the country. It (the US) has also issued a mild rebuttal after Mirzas press conference, but has left many questions unanswered. So, if the Americans fail to reply, the onus will come on Islamabad to seek an urgent explanation from Washington on the questions raised by him during his outbursts. Keeping this in view, it can be said that the coming days and weeks will be tumultuous for Pakistani politics and could result in a change of not only the political scenario, but also important placements in the administration. The role of the federal Interior Minister has been demolished to an extent where his retention in the present political setup could result in a serious liability for the President. Therefore, he must be shifted either to a less important position. Or still better, asked to step down. The situation, however, has reached a point where an inquiry should be conducted either by an impartial institution or a team of credible individuals, who have an impeccable record, so that the facts could come to light. It will be quite dangerous if the issues raised by Mirza and his adversaries in the MQM are put under the carpet without a thorough and proper inquiry being conducted into the allegations and counter allegations. To ensure that no harm is done to the country, it would be better if the government immediately puts into place measures that will help to restore peace in Karachi. It must also ensure that all those who are responsible for killing innocent citizens, and other serious violations of law, are not only apprehended, but also punished. Half-hearted or half-baked solutions will not be acceptable and may result in, God forbid, damaging Pakistans integrity. The government should, therefore, pull up its socks, move quickly in the correct direction, and undertake bold measures that would help it restore peace and harmony in Karachi to boost the confidence of local and foreign businessmen to invest in the country. Any delay by the federal or provincial government could result in the intervention in the democratic setup, which is not desirable because it will not help improve things in the long run. More seriously, result in a grievous blow to the institution of democracy. The top brass was sending out loud signals about their anguish creating a situation that requires urgent corrective medicine. The choices are running out, while the time remains the most important option. Who will grab it is another question? The writer has been associated with various newspapers as editor and columnist. At present, he hosts a political programme on Pakistan Television. Email: zarnatta@hotmail.com