A raid on Nine Zero, the MQM headquarters, seemed unthinkable a couple of years ago. In 2015 two have happened in quick succession. Yet, before the authorities can start congratulating themselves on their daring and influence, a quick look at the ramifications of these actions is needed. With the MQM complaining of victimisation at the hands of the Rangers, lending credibility to their standard party line is the last thing the Rangers should do. Yet this is exactly what they have done with the latest raid.

If the objective was to arrest and indict senior MQM Rabita Committee members for ‘spreading hate speech’, a pre-dawn raid in full military regalia coupled with a complete search of the premises seems a tad excessive. Indicting them for “arranging and facilitating hate speeches against the peace of Karachi" – essentially just receiving and broadcasting calls from Altaf Hussain – is an exaggerated and vague charge, especially when no one really seems to consider Altaf Hussain’s protests hate speech. Criticising the Rangers, a government institution, for overstepping its mandate, and claiming victimisation at the hands of the said institution, is not hate speech, it is plain political discourse. It happens on a daily basis on Pakistani media, where no institute or individual is safe from scrutiny. One hopes that the Rangers had dealt with the other, more serious crimes in Karachi, before taking a veritable army to arrest two men for picking up a phone call.

The raid increasingly seems like an act of retribution: the Rangers flexing their muscles after being criticised by the MQM chief. By doing so the Rangers perfectly fit the description the MQM is projecting- that they are a group that has personal enmity against the MQM. It is true that elements in the MQM need to be brought to justice, but this must be done with diligence and circumspection, not with brash actions and bravado.