After a gap of almost 10 days Altaf Hussains MQM got its act together and responded to the allegations made by Dr Zulfiqar Mirza, the new swashbuckling hero to some, who has chosen to break with the status quo and go public with the secrets in his heart. The other target of Dr Mirzas disclosures, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, continues unruffled in the performance of his daily duties and has thought it best to let the storm blow over with the fond hope that it will come to naught. It is difficult to predict the exact impact of Mirzas allegations on Pakistani politics, but it has led to my doing a comparative assessment of the main accused and the accuser. Altaf Hussain Background: Was born in a middle-class family in Karachi in 1953. He started his political career as a student at the Karachi University when he founded All Pakistan Muhajir Students Organisation (APMSO) in June 1978. It was able to counter the hithertofore hold on politics of the university by the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba. The APMSO went on to become the Muhajir Quomi Movement (Muhajir was later replaced by Muttahida) and the MQM was also successfully able to counter the hold of Jamaat-e-Islami in politics in Karachi. The MQM emerged as the third largest political party in the National Assembly during the 1988 and 1990 elections winning seats from the cities of Karachi and Hyderabad. Claim to fame: The only political leader of the world, who controls his party with an iron fist, while remaining in exile in England. Enjoys cult status within his followers. His video addresses to his party are listened to with rapt attention by thousands and instructions are followed to the tee. His dramatic pauses, intonations, and theatrical abilities. Plusses: His party, the MQM, has been able to get educated people from the middle-class backgrounds elected to the National and Provincial Assemblies. The bulk of them are well spoken, with the decided advantage of a better vocabulary and accent in the national language. Their clearly stated policies of being anti-feudal and anti-Taliban appeal to a lot of people. They hold out hope for similar methods to be replicated in other political parties. Achilles Heel: Altafs party is believed to have an ugly inner face with a reputation and culture of extortion, violence and cold-blooded cruelty. This perception is represented by the likes of Ajmal Pahari, who has admitted to a joint investigative team to the killing of more than a 100 people. His dissidents like Azeem Tariq and Imran Farooq. The letter supposedly written by him to Tony Blair and the May 12 reception of the Chief Justice have not been believably responded to. Zulfiqar Mirza Background: Born in Hyderabad to an established Sindhi family. Went to Cadet College Petaro and Liaquat Medical College. Has been elected twice. Is an industrialist, politician and medical doctor. There are no particular reasons for him to be in politics, except for the silver spoon of being born into a well connected family. Claim to fame: Being a schoolmate of President Asif Ali Zardari as well as his confidante, up till August 28 at least, and member of the Petaro inner gang of four. Being the husband of the first woman Speaker of the National Assembly of Pakistan. Plusses: He has been perceived to have stood up to tyranny at a very distinct peril to himself with the press conference in Ramazan. He has been able to create one of the most compelling spectacles of our politics in recent memory. He was able to stun Altaf Hussain and his party to complete silence for a whole 10 days by speaking out loud against the issues, which had only been spoken about in hushed tones. He has been able to rattle the status quo. Achilles Heel: A childhood, bordering on childish, connection to Asif Ali Zardari and the insistence on acknowledging all his material gains to this patronage. Having a track record of making insensitive speeches and a tendency to spontaneous, rude responses without properly weighing his answers. Thinking that immaturity and accepting of complicity also counts as bravery. Light at the end of the tunnel: With the Supreme Court trying to unravel the knots in Karachi and the spread of violence in that beleaguered city, Mirzas disclosures will force things in the open, particularly if he has proof of his allegations. Things can no longer be brushed under the carpet and the same pattern of life cannot continue. Military rule is not an option, but to rein in the militant groups at work in Karachi is. We are undeniably moving towards change. Postscript: Even as we express much anguish at the loss of life and target killings in Karachi and other places, violence and cruelty remain the fate of so many in this country. Amidst the noise and fury of political accusations and counter accusations, there were two most disturbing news items. One related to a four-day bride, who was shot and killed by her husband over the fact that she wanted to visit her family. It was not mentioned if her husband has been arrested or not and, if he has or will be given exemplary punishment or not. The second related to a Vice Principal of a Medical University being shot at close range by a frustrated student, who had been failing his exams for many years and who thought his victim was responsible for it. Both these incidents are pointers to the change required at the earliest to two vital segments if we are to progress - treatment of women and the system of education. That is the common war that all parties should be waging. The writer is a public relations and event management professional based in Islamabad. Email: tallatazim@yahoo.com