With Altaf Hussain facing solid criminal and tax evasion charges in the United Kingdom, local MQM leaders have been left in a lurch over the past couple of weeks by the successful raid on Nine-Zero by the Rangers and self-professed MQM workers turned whistleblowers.

This is not the first time that the Muttahida Qaumi Movement of Altaf Hussain is under attack from all sides. Operation Cleanup in the early 1990s is a clear precedent in this regard. However, for the first time since its creation in 1984, MQM appears to be on the back foot. Instead of bursting into mindless violence and vandalism, MQM is looking for a negotiated settlement.

However, MQM is also aware that it is an essential component of the current democratic set up - with 23 MNAs, 8 Senators, and 51 MPAs in Sindh – MQM cannot simply be forced to surrender everything. Indeed, it would be a tragic disaster to force MQM to the wall under the circumstances.

The fact that MQM has so far restrained from vocally protesting the raid on Nine-Zero in Parliament shows that MQM has not yet panicked and expects a negotiated settlement sooner rather than later.

It must be recalled that, after all, MQM is only a raw version of what all other political parties in Pakistan are made of – patronage and fear. Other major political parties in Karachi allegedly also have sizeable private militias as a substitute for the formal writ of the state. In these circumstances, attempts to cleanse MQM of private enforcers necessarily raises the question: is it being done because MQM had soared above the rest or as a first step in the long and comprehensive process of bringing peace and prosperity to Karachi? If it is the latter, can one expect political leaders addicted to politics through violence to use powers of knowledge and persuasion to continue their careers? Are any investments being made in social infrastructure to dissuade Karachi’s youth from serving as violent puppets in the hands of ignorance, hunger and greed?

Surely the ongoing encirclement of MQM is likely to reduce crime and violence in Karachi in the short term. However, the City of Lights shall remain in darkness without a well-defined vision and plan to produce a new generation of peaceful leaders and workers.