The controversy surrounding MQM refuses to die down, and Karachi saw its drama unfold on Friday afternoon, when SSP Rao Anwar led a raid at the house of Opposition Leader of the Sindh Assembly, Khawaja Izhar-ul-Hassan from MQM. Mr Hassan was arrested when he rushed home after news of this raid reached him, but was released only five hours later, after the Chief Minister of the province and the Prime Minister intervened and suspended SSP Rao Anwar, the man behind the arrest. This was followed by a raid at an MQM office by the Rangers on Saturday, which led to weapons being found, allegedly used for target killings in the city.

It is strange that weapons keep turning up from MQM offices even after the party has had numerous allegations thrown at it in recent times. There is no doubt that political parties have used violence as a political tactic in the metropolitan city in the past, and that MQM was deeply involved in the bloodshed that held the city hostage. But one would think that the events following Altaf Hussain’s removal from party leadership would have changed all that.

The raid on the MQM office is part of an ongoing process, and has been repeated too many times with similar results that cannot be dismissed easily. There has to come a point where the party admits to its past faults, of fostering and supporting violent elements in Karachi. But the problem with this is that if there is an admission of guilt, the party may suddenly lose many of its leaders and supporters to the subsequent purge that will follow.

The security agencies of the country are not wrong in targeting violent elements within the party, but there is a need to draw a distinction between its political leadership and those that engage in violent activities. Only the party itself can now make this mess easy for itself, because it has the power to turn in those that still engage in violence of its own volition. Both the provincial and federal governments need to let the party know that it is not being isolated, and suspending SSP Rao Anwar will obviously be received as a positive message by MQM. However, more needs to be done to keep MQM in the fold, simply because it still holds a very important place in the hearts and minds of Karachi’s voters.