The UK is investigating MQM supremo Altaf Hussain for his speech on Tuesday, not for his saying that Karachi should be separated from Pakistan, but for alleged hate speech, in which he is supposed to have threatened the protesters at Teen Talwar with violence. The Teen Talwar protesters were demanding a recount in the constituency, alleging MQM rigging. The MQM says the remarks were misinterpreted by the media. However, Scotland Yard has received enough complaints to have the speech translated, and for British High Commissioner in Islamabad Adam Thomson to hold a press conference on Wednesday. There, the High Commissioner said that the offence was one in which someone guilty could be sentenced to imprisonment. He did not shed any light on what such a conviction might mean for Mr Hussain’s naturalisation but states do not look favourably on those who obtain citizenship, but commit criminal offences.

Quite apart from the UK’s law having no way to curtail Mr Hussain preaching the break-up of Sindh, or of Pakistan, Mr Hussain should reflect on the sacrifices made by his community, the Muhajirs, at the time of the creation of Pakistan, and even before. He should realise that it does not become a leader of this community even to speak of the break-up of Pakistan, or any of its provinces, in its name. The cause, an election dispute, where the channels are readily available to solve such a matter legally, does not deserve such sinister threats. Mr Hussain appears to have had it his way for too long in Karachi that he cannot even brook the opposition now being shown by the PTI. He should realise that the elections are a known quantity, and thus there are mechanisms to settle election disputes. Those must be adopted, rather than the making of threats which not just threaten national integrity, and by making speeches which prove a threat in one’s place of exile.

Scotland Yard is still bound to investigate the avalanche of complaints it has received. Whatever its decision, will have an impact on both provincial and national politics. After all, Mr Hussain’s party is involved in the process of government formation at both levels, and the present dispute and criminal proceedings can only prove a distraction, for Mr Hussain personally, and for his party. Other parties might wish to ignore the matter, but it seems they cannot. Though as thoroughly beaten in this poll as in previous ones, they have neither abandoned Karachi, nor given up on the MQM as a partner at one level or another.