The arrests of mayor-elect Wasim Akhtar, MPA Rauf Siddiqui (MQM), PPP leader Qadir Patel and Anis Qaimkhani from the Pak Sar Zameen Party (PSZP) in connection to the Dr Asim Hussain terror facilitation case has now roped in all the major Karachi-centric parties of the country.

The two major parties of Karachi have been under the microscope for a while. The inclusion of PSZP in the mix, with Anis Qaimkhani’s arrest is only a reminder of the fact that old faces cannot change existing realities, even under the pretext of a new movement.

The leaders from MQM came out and called this a targeted witch hunt once again, but the really surprising statement came from PSZP head, Mustafa Kamal. While he was careful to not point any fingers, he admitted that targeting political workers or leaders (all except Altaf Hussain) was a folly on part of those involved. If he hadn’t verbally bashed Altaf Hussain following this, his statement and that of the MQM might not have been too far apart. But who is Mustafa Kamal blaming when he stops just short of naming any names with regards to this case being a mistake? The Asim Hussain case is solely controlled by the Rangers, and this was made all the more obvious when the police failed to find any evidence where the Rangers had enough to remain convinced for all this time. But Kamal’s protestations do touch an important point besides the obvious sidestepping of what was obvious. The idea is that if these charges are genuinely seen as valid by the state, how have the top heads of both these parties escaped noticed so far? While both are out of the country, no real efforts are being made to draw them back.

Win or lose this fight in the Dr Asim case, the Sindh government has a very important decision on its hands, one it must make sooner rather than later. Extending the Rangers’ powers once more will seem like a bitter pill to swallow, even more so now that more leaders have been arrested. However, is PPP really ready to take on the Rangers and openly speak out against what the parties see as a targeted strike against them? If it chooses to extend, then the next question of continuing the operation in the rest of the province comes into play, and the Rangers do not look to be in an ‘asking’ mood at all. The Sindh government is stuck between a rock and a hard place, where not granting these powers will mean compromising on the marginal security improvements made in Karachi, and giving in will mean losing a few of its closest people as collateral. One can only hope it chooses wisely.