The mini-exodus from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) continues, as two new, albeit low ranking, members defected to Mustafa Kamal and his still unnamed party. MPA Iftikhar Alam and former coordination committee member Waseem Aftab held a press conference at the DHA headquarters of the new party, and on cue the new defectors launched attacks against the man they had been readily taking orders from weeks ago.

The attacks followed the same outline as the ones made by Mustafa Kamal, and curiously contained the same rhetorical devices, the same allegations, even the same words and similes as the previous speeches. While this repetition is meant to give us the impression that the claims are credible, the parroting only makes them seem contrived. This impression becomes all the more compelling when all five members of the ‘unnamed’ party say they cannot provide a shred of evidence to link Altaf Hussain to RAW, despite being party insiders and claiming to have witnessed the exchanges with their own eyes.

Neither is this ‘unnamed’ party moving to establish its own agenda. The party has given no comprehensive statement of its political principals or policies, or its suggestions on addressing the various problems that beset Karachi. It seems only to exist in opposition to Altaf Husain – not the MQM as a whole – and this antagonistic stance leaves it in limbo; a situation not helped by its undecided name and symbol. This smear campaign dovetails perfectly with the government’s ‘get Altaf’ movement – but of course, both parties deny any connection. Yet despite a lack of proof, MQM has been unable to come up with viable counter narratives. Unless it does so these allegations, unsubstantiated as they are, will continue to chip away at the MQM vote base.

It is commendable that in the middle of this, the federal government is keeping its head. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has again rejected Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s demand for setting up a judicial commission to investigate the allegations leveled by the former Nazim of Karachi; quite rightly pointing out that there is not enough evidence to even sustain a police investigation let alone a judicial commission. It would be wise for the government to not get involved in this. This is a tiff between party members; it must let them fight it out.