Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) founder Altaf Hussain was charged with a terrorism offence in a case related to his incendiary speech relayed from the United Kingdom to his followers in Pakistan on August 22, 2016, this Thursday. MQM’s politics in the recent decade has been about inciting violence and creating cleavages in Pakistani society against the state and its people. Despite his absence from the country, Altaf Hussain managed to hold political clout and use hate speech to create security issues, particularly in Karachi. The chaos created by them was ultimately managed by a Rangers Operation in the city, however, with such politicians on the loose, there is always a chance that they can incite people and militarise the population.

His arrest was long due and necessary for the establishment of the narrative of peace within Pakistani politics. This should set the precedent for others like him who like to use violence and force to engage in politics in the country. A similar example is of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) and their leader Khadim Rizvi, who was duly managed by the state for inciting violence. Pakistan has fought long and hard to end extremism within the land and no political actor should be given the leverage to incite a population whose inclination towards mob mentality has proven itself time and again.

However, this arrest comes at a time when the party’s existence in the domestic political scene is almost non-existent. The last general elections saw the breakup of the party into two, with Mustafa Kamal leading the other faction. Their political clout was displaced by the presence of TLP in Sindh and now the party functions in a coalition with the federal in Sindh. This shows their transformation into a more dormant party and the arrest of their political leader completes the transformation and will end any means of engaging in the same politics of violence and force.

With Pakistan’s changing political scene, the politics of MQM needed to evolve as well. Sindh is progressing at a very different pace than the rest of the provinces and the militarisation of the masses along with the use of terror as narrative controlling mechanisms by the political parties needed to change. Political parties now need to identify the interests of their voters in order to maintain clout rather than engage in divisive politics.