The most appalling opposition on the NRO was that of the MQM, PPP's coalition partner in Sindh and federal government. The MQM Chief Altaf Hussain actually had the gall to call on the President and some of his close aides to step down "in order to save democracy". But that was seen in light of the history of MQM with its allies which is replete with blackmailing. Throughout its alliance with both the PPP and PML-N governments during the 90s, and also during its coalition with the dictator Musharraf, MQM kept playing ducks and drakes with them. It threatened almost every ally several times with walking out of government on Kalabagh dam, Balochistan, this issue and that. It never resigned, though. Moreover, during the backroom wheeling-dealings, it usually ended up demanding only more and more perks from each of the hapless government it was blackmailing. That way, it always ended up extracting maximum benefits in the name of fighting for burning national and provincial issues before it, finally, joined up the main table again with feigned reluctance. During its partnership with the Musharraf-led government when the NRO was being signed, it never protested and observed a deceptive silence through out. Having kept quiet all these years while taking full benefits from the controversial ordinance by having hundreds of cases withdrawn against its leaders and workers, it has now made a complete volte-face. Seeing that Mr. Zardari is under fire from all sides, MQM has once again done the familiar act of stabbing its partner in the back. Its recent opposition to the NRO is not the 'principled stand' Mr. Altaf Hussain would have us believe to be. Rather he is trying to kill two birds with one stone. MQM is expanding its outreach to interior of Sindh, Punjab and now even Gilgit-Baltistan. So it is trying to posture as a clean and principled political party that opposes the odious NRO. That not only fetches some extra votes for it in the upcoming election but also helps it in blackmailing the PPP government for still more concessions. -GULSHER PANHWER JOHI, Dadu, November 9.