Just when MQM started to feel bolder following its landslide victory in local government elections in Karachi, an ATC court has issued non-bailable arrest warrants for 25 MQM leaders, including MQM chief Altaf Hussain, MQM’s mayoral candidate for Karachi Waseem Akhtar and senior party leaders Farooq Sattar, Khawaja Izharul Hassan, Rauf Siddiqui, Qamar Mansoor, Rehan Hashmi , Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Rasheed Godil, Kaiful Wara and others. This is a blow for the party and a reminder that their past sins have not yet been forgotten.

The case that is registered against them is for facilitating Altaf Hussain’s July 12 speech, famously critical of the military establishment, which landed him in more trouble than he thought possible. In the wake of the infamous speech FIRs poured in against him and were registered in various police stations across Sindh. In the FIRs, the MQM chief was accused of involvement in cases of criminal conspiracy, waging of war against Pakistan and committing acts of terrorism.

Despite this troubling list of offences stacked up against the head of the party, MQM proved it is resilient and stronger than ever, winning its toughest election yet. The election has only proved that Altaf Hussain remains a strong leader of his cult as ever and the victimization card resonated well within its supporters. Keeping this is mind; perhaps arresting all twenty-five of its senior leaders would not be in the state’s best interest at the moment. It will only fuel unrest that Karachi has kept at bay for some time. Unless this is about putting the MQM back in its place; an attempt to dilute their power high.

Altaf Hussain must be held accountable for any offences and the state should find a way to stop him from evading the law and answer for his crimes, rather than going after party workers. Considering the extent of power that the MQM exercises at the grassroots level still, the state must find a sustainable and long lasting solution to ensure peace in the region. In the absence of Altaf Hussain’s usual theatrics –as the media can neither print nor broadcast his statements or interviews – Dr. Farooq Sattar had taken over the reigns of the election campaigning.

Throwing him behind bars along with the other party leaders will only stall the formation of the local government structure for a little while.

When they get out, which they eventually will, which way will this war go between the state and the MQM? Will the lifesaving surgery of Karachi ever reach a logical conclusion?