Before MQM chief Altaf Hussain came to the microphone and delivered his address on Friday there was a lot of speculation about what the sensational term ‘political drone’, after all, meant that he had thrown into a socio-political milieu, which was already titillated by Dr Tahirul Qadri’s announcement of a long march. At least, three interpretations of the cryptic term were making the rounds in the media and analysts eager to put across their points of view before the public: Mr Hussain might announce his immediate return to Pakistan, quitting the governing coalition or withdrawal from the long march. All turned out to be way off the mark. He did seek the workers’ permission to come back, but the request did not find favour with them. In his purposely dragged stentorian tone that he invariably adopts, he warned the governments, federal and provincial, against attempting to hinder the march, reminding them of similar marches by their own leaders in the past, but skilfully skirted the point of his disassociation from the ruling parties. He threatened to demand a separate province for Urdu-speaking people should local body legislation be withdrawn. Mr Hussain vehemently reaffirmed the resolve that his party would participate in the long march. Overnight, however, the ‘resolve’ changed into ‘moral support’, most likely, due to the persuasion of President Zardari in whose hurriedly called meeting of allies, the MQM leaders participated. That once again singled out Mr Zardari as a ring master in political manoeuvrings. MQM’s explanation: danger of terrorist attacks, which, no doubt, is being seen as real and potent following a day soaked in blood in Quetta, Swat and Karachi.

Mr Hussain’s political drone turned out to be utterly shocking and, indeed, extremely regrettable: he put Quaid-i-Azam’s undivided and unquestionable loyalty to Pakistan to doubt! He chose to ignore the fact, quintessentially germane to the issue, that in 1946 the only valid travel document for the Quaid could be the British passport and when he took oath as Governor-General of Pakistan, the country still had a dominion status. Mr Hussain’s case brooks no comparison with it. He took the oath of allegiance to the British monarch when he was a citizen of an independent Pakistan. The same holds true for Dr Qadri who holds a dual Pakistan-Canadian nationality. The MQM chief’s unfortunate reference to Quaid’s passport has incurred political and religious leaders’ severe criticism, on or off the TV screen. He must withdraw his nonsensical statement and tender an apology for his error.