PSP and MQM took the media by storm on Wednesday. The rival parties have decided to join forces for the upcoming general elections. This is not just an alliance but a complete merger of the two parties, meaning that they will be one party, one symbol, one manifesto, and most importantly one name. MQM Chief Farooq Sattar and PSP Chairman Mustafa Kamal both seemed in sync with the current strategy and there was no indication that both leaders had been bitterly at each other’s throats in the recent past. They will devise the full fledge plan in the upcoming days and the feasibility of their plan.

This decision by both parties comes as a shock to many. Several reasons can be attributed to it, just in reference to the last two political years. The first is that Mustafa Kamal, former Nazim Karachi, back in March 2016 became an MQM dissident and declared the formation of his own party - PSP. He along with his party members was strong proponents of action against the MQM because of their illegal and violent activities – all of MQM, not just Altaf Hussain. After constant criticism of MQM, this merger does not justify their earlier stance – perhaps electoral politics are stronger than principles and solemnly sworn oaths.

Second, at that time last year there was a Rangers Operation going on in Sindh in full force. And MQM came under a lot of fire for irregularities, and the stances of the party leader Altaf Hussain. This operation considerably weakened the position of MQM in the province or at least it was made to look like it. Analysts were quick to term this crackdown on MQM as the downfall of the party, a pit from where recovery seemed extremely difficult. This alliance now gives a new life to MQM and increases their chances of gaining votes, as the audience is already under the impression that the party has been cleansed of deviant thoughts.

Objectively, it seems like a well-thought out plan to take out the mainstream parties, PPP and PML-N, in their majority provinces. PSP-MQM will challenge PPP in Sindh, while, PTI will take on PML-N in Punjab. Consider this with the fact that both mainstream parties are weak at the moment, now is the right time to strike. To make PSP-MQM’s position more strong, General Musharraf has also welcomed their merger. Gen Musharraf’s aspirations to be back in the political scene are no secret and the merger might just be the right start for him. More importantly his almost choreographed endorsement also adds the illusion of ‘establishment backing’ to the merger.

With a merged vote bank, MQM-PSP is ready to challenge in Karachi and beyond.