With the raid on Nine Zero, the Rangers have clearly decided to take their operation in Karachi to its logical conclusion. Zero tolerance for terrorism without discrimination is not a negotiable political slogan and the security establishment is seriously executing this policy without ifs and buts. Hurling threats at officers who led the raid is not going to make it change its mind. In the long run, this resolve bodes well for peace in Karachi and not so well for Altaf Hussain and his MQM. And that’s not such a bad thing.

After all, what else did Altaf Hussain mean when he said that those who conducted the raid ‘will be no more’? His party loyalists, political partners and MQM-apologists in the media would like to trivialize his verbal war on the Rangers and ignore the gory context of his recent remarks against its personnel, the context of his dangerous shenanigans spanning more than two decades. Besides, in 2015, can we discuss Altaf Hussain’s MQM without any reference to the safe havens of the empire and what they are used for?

This is not the first time Altaf Hussain has hurled threats. Holed up in London, he regularly incites MQM workers in Karachi to hatred and violence via satellite. He has consistently fanned ethnic prejudice in the melting pot of Pakistan. And though he said sorry later, he went so far as to literally abuse the sitting Chief Justice and women leaders of PTI in public addresses. It shouldn’t take an Einstein to figure out where he’s coming from and where he’d like to take us all.

Whether it is seeking to divide the armed forces and then inviting the ‘patriotic’ generals to declare martial law or showing a British passport issued to Jinnah during the Raj to justify his own British citizenship, his antics seek to mislead and distract. His vocabulary of violence is no joke either. He is on record telling media-persons about borees tailored to fit them and warning PTI voters protesting against rigging in Karachi that his workers would cut them to pieces. The election-rigging machinery at his disposal is no secret.

Over the years, his MQM’s façade of a party representing the interests of the urban middle-class has become too thin to hide its ugly side soaked in terror and coercion. The brushing of May 12 carnage under the carpet, the killing of police officers warned against nabbing MQM workers involved in terrorist and criminal activities, the Baldia factory fire and rampant bhatta-khori in Karachi, the silencing of Wali Babar and all his witnesses, the murder of PTI’s Zohra Hussain days after Altaf Hussain’s televised threats, raise pressing questions about the party. Hiding behind the excuse of emotional workers not in control of the supreme leader or disowning them point-blank won’t do. Besides, what does it mean when a leader who says his workers are known to go out of control still incites them to violence?

The area around Nine Zero had been turned into a no-go zone by the MQM and the party and its apologists are upset that the sanctity of Altaf Hussain’s family fief had been violated. They say a political party’s office should not have been raided. They’d like us to see this as an attack on democracy and a case of political victimization. But can we keep going round the democracy bush even when terrorists and sophisticated weapons are recovered from the head office of a political party? Even when parties create no-go-areas?

Asif Zardari surely wants us to go spinning round the bush. He has lent Altaf Hussain and his MQM a helping hand by inviting them to join the Sindh government and criticizing the raid. Zardari’s PPP is employing the hollow rhetoric of democracy and political victimization to obfuscate the issue. Asif Zardari and Rehman Malik have gone out of their way to accommodate and appease the MQM even while enjoying a comfortable majority in the Sindh assembly. They have an especially soft spot for Altaf Hussain’s outfit. Could it be a part of the imperial script? Isn’t it time to take a closer look at our democracy project and the glaring hypocrisies of its leaders nudging events to the scripted end?

In the larger national context, each asset of the empire is acting out its part. The PML-N doesn’t mind the raid but, like the PPP, it has its shady alliances with terrorists. The party’s history of appeasing and accommodating the Taliban and their sectarian associates is not restricted to a letter Shahbaz Sharif wrote. He is on record to have said as much. Nawaz Sharif eulogized Taliban in his last stint as prime minister. This time he enacted the charade of a never-ending dialogue with the terrorists. The recurring violence on minorities in Punjab is covered up as a routine.

The Nawaz Sharif government is dragging its feet in implementing important points of the National Action Plan for the fear of offending their Saudi benefactors. It is averse to cutting the flow of foreign funding of sectarian outfits and instituting madrassah reforms. It splashes billions of rupees on wasteful fancy projects but can’t find the money to make the National Intelligence Directorate, crucial for fighting terrorism, operational.

So while our largest political parties protect the terrorists in and outside their parties, the ground is being prepared for the climax scripted by the empire with the activation of the entire spectrum of its proxies from Karachi to Peshawar and Lahore to Quetta. The empire of chaos and violence has gone into top gear. Pseudo-Islamic terrorists, ethnic militants, and heavily-paid messiahs agitating a divisive discourse on minorities, women, human rights and democracy are beginning to push hard, apparently in different directions but in tandem with the chaotic imperial script.

Imprisoned within the framework of the imperial narrative, our oh-so-independent media is yet to decide whether the time is opportune to come out of its fear of the MQM. The deference still accorded to the party and its leader ensconced in an imperial safe haven must now come to an end.