The raid conducted by Rangers on MQM headquarters Nine Zero has put Karachi’s largest political party in a difficult but familiar position as it faces serious allegations of involvement in criminal activities. Rangers claim to have recovered illegal weapons and wanted criminals during the raid. While the MQM claims that some of the weapons seized by Rangers were licensed and kept for security purposes, many were planted at their offices by the raiding party itself.

In his address following the raid that lasted for more than two hours, MQM Chief Altaf Hussain did not contest the presence and recovery of wanted and convicted criminals from the party HQ. These include Faisal Mehmood alias Faisal Mota, Farhan Shabbir alias Mullah, Ubaid K2, Amir and Nadir. According to Rangers, aforementioned criminals were meeting with MQM Rabita Committee member Amir Khan, who has also been taken in custody for questioning.

This cannot be allowed to evolve into yet another inconsequential episode of allegations and counter-allegations. Ambiguity serves the guilty. Either a large cache of illegal weapons was recovered or it wasn’t. Criminals were present at Nine Zero or they weren’t. Two different possibilities or claims, as they exist in this scenario, ought to have two distinct consequences in accordance with law. At the end of the day, the accused and available evidence have to be presented in a court of law. There is no other way to go about this. The media can judge all it wants, but its judgments are not binding.

In the meantime, the MQM has to do more than repeat the old mantra of political victimisation at the hands of other parties and the military establishment. As an entity that claims to be a political party, it has to answer for the presence of the likes of Faisal Mota at its HQ. Nine Zero isn’t exactly a public park open for all visitors. Every person entering the premises has to go through security checks put in place by the party itself. It is highly unlikely that they entered undetected and absent permission.

During the raid, MQM office bearer Waqas Ali Shah was shot dead. The MQM claims that a bullet fired by one of the Rangers personnel killed him. Rangers claim that Waqas was shot by TT pistol, which the Rangers do not use. Footage aired by 92News does show a Rangers personnel carrying a pistol and pointing in Waqas’ direction. The footage however is inconclusive and doesn’t clearly identify a shooter. In any case, the matter ought to be investigated to hold the culprit accountable.

Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan has said that it was an intelligence-based raid carried out in accordance with law. Whether the federal government would continue to offer political backing to Rangers and the Sindh government would take a clear stance on the issue remains to be seen.