The bulk of us, while liking certain ideas about the MQM ideology, have never been quite able to come to terms with the way the party is run - cult style - by an individual based in London. Those living in Karachi have a much clearer picture of how the party operates and it was anything but a pretty one - despite having able and well groomed spokespersons at the forefront. The MQM party head has had a great run - changing his political stance according to requirements and by being a partner to whoever was in power, as a matter of policy, so that he remained a kingmaker and, therefore, untouchable. Minor issues, like ideological stands on important subjects changing frequently, were the least of his concerns. A case in point can be the show of overt support for the army and its Chief in Karachi where he has held sway for a number of years, aka May 12, 2007, but forgetting to mention the letter he wrote to the British Prime Minister in 2001 in which he wanted the ISI to be disbanded. However, one cannot be all things to all people all of the time and the chickens, as the saying goes, do decide to come home to roost eventually. Lately, the MQM chief’s telephonic theatrics had taken on another dimension. This had something to do with the general elections too. He could not deal with the fact that another political party had made some inroads into what he considered his personal stronghold in the city of Karachi. All those threats that he made to his opponents, the resultant letters and calls to the London Metropolitan Police, the murder of Zahra Hussain, etc have all helped to put him in a glaring spotlight in front of the British authorities.The Brits, who had given asylum to Altaf Hussain for the last 19 odd years as well as citizenship, have now woken up to his antics and threats, and seem to have gotten hold of hard evidence from the look of things, about the goings-on at his famous Edgeware Road address. While they were only trying to connect the dots in the Imran Farooq murder case, they have, inadvertently, also gotten on to some other unexplainable things. Several pieces in the puzzle have just come together and even if they wanted to show him a bit of leniency, there is no way that the British system can roll back on all that has been discovered. Perhaps, the party for Altaf Hussain is finally over.I do not have the slightest doubt that when things do come to a head and Altaf is put on trial, there will be a reaction among his followers in Pakistan, even though it is the British system that has unravelled his doings because he is one of their citizens. While that is true, it is also known that a lot of people from within the MQM will also be relieved and set free so to speak. The fear factor has been a major ploy behind the show of discipline and an unflinching acquiescence to the party head. The stories of coercion, extortion and mafia style operations about the militant wing of this party are the stuff of legend about which Pakistani authorities have not been able to do much. But, as they say, there is a cycle of life and nothing is forever. the Deputy Convener of the party in an interview with the BBC, which also aired various clips of Altaf’s verbal threats to different people, tried the same old explanation, which we have heard hundreds of time here that “the clips have been taken out of context.” He seemed a trifle taken aback when the BBC host appeared not to buy that line! The Deputy Convener then went on to advise the host that he ought to turn the investigations inwards because there has so obviously been an infiltration of the Taliban into the BBC setup and the making of the researched documentary on Altaf. As we watch this developing story, we hope that the MQM leadership in Pakistan will deal with this situation in a manner that no harm is caused to anybody or any property and that they will select a leader, who can lead the party while Altaf has the opportunity to respond to any charges that may be laid at his door. It is extremely encouraging to see that a long wanted ex-Chairman of OGRA Tauqir Sadiq has finally been brought back and faces trial for the billions that went missing in his tenure. At the risk of repeating myself, chickens eventually do come home to roost.Postscript: It has been more than a month that the new governments are in place and struggling to find their feet as well as solutions to the ever-increasing problems of Pakistan. Two incidents in the last week pointed out that it will be a really long while before things change for the marginalised. The first was the news of two women dying in a stampede at a place where they had gone to get free rations at the beginning of the month of Ramazan. There are just too many people with food insecurity and the inability to cope with inflation. This was the kind of news that not only saddens, but also burdens the spirit.The second one was the ongoing issue of child labour and exploiting under age children by sending them to work as almost slaves in affluent households. One 12-year-old boy bled to death in Multan because a glass jug fell from his hand and broke and his mistress smashed the remaining portion of the jug in his skull in anger. I really hope that justice will be seen to be done in this case. The cruelty exhibited to the child is fairly rampant and the few cases that actually come to light must be made examples of.
nThe writer is a public relations and event management professional based in Islamabad.