Altaf Hussain who had declared three years back that the division of India, and by implication the creation of Pakistan, was the greatest blunder in human history cried his eyes out on Monday protesting against those who called his patriotism to question. As if awakening from a spell of memory loss, he sobbed as he suddenly remembered those killed in June 1992 operation, conveniently forgetting that six years after the operation his party had once again joined the PML-N government thus indirectly absolving it of what had happened during the operation. He called on Pakistan Muslim League-N leader Nawaz Sharif to state before the nation why he had allowed the army operation, whether he was consulted, knew full facts behind it and why he didn't intervene to stop it. This was somewhat unexpected. Three weeks earlier on August 3 MQM's Federal Minister Babar Ghouri had called on Mian Shahbaz Sharif in Lahore. There was absolutely no mention of 1992 operation. On the other hand, there was a profuse exchange of expressions denoting bonhomie. The MQM leader who remained with the Punjab chief minister for an hour invited him to Karachi. "Nobody can stop you from visiting Karachi," he said. The revival of memory was however partial. Altaf conveniently forgot that in 1975 there was another operation against MQM, this time conducted by the indefatigable and determined PPP Interior Minister Naseerullah Babar who said the MQM had no body bag fit for his size. While in Karachi as part of a team of journalists who were taken around the city to show the newly opened no-go-areas and the infamous Khajji ground where blindfolded security personnel were brought and executed, we were told how many terrorists were already killed and how many still remained who were to be brought to book within a few days. As we came out of the briefing room newspaper hawkers were shouting that another widely feared terrorist was killed. Altaf Hussain conveniently forgets that the so-called Jinnahpur maps, an issue that was commented upon in the newspapers only for a while, were neither the cause of the operation in 1992 nor the one initiated in 1995. The reason stated at both times was almost identical i.e. criminal activities and challenge to the writ of the state. Altaf Hussain now says he knew that the army wanted to launch an operation against criminals and what it ended up with was an all out attack on MQM. But in 1992 the difference in urban Sindh between violence done in the name of politics and crime was becoming increasingly blurred. Money was being collected under threats as donation for MQM, which amounted to extortion. So was kidnapping and torturing of opponents. Those declared to be party renegades were subjected to violence. The house of a man who shifted loyalties was torched. A former MQM leader was shot dead. When the party chief asks his party men to sell their TV sets and buy guns, criminal tendencies are bound to be nurtured. PML-N spokesman Siddiqul Farooq claims that MQM had in fact supplied a list of names to the army, comprising its political opponents, for action. That Altaf Hussain left Pakistan on the eve of the operation indicates he had an inkling of what was going to happen. Altaf Hussain has made much of Brig (retd) Imtiaz's statement regarding the maps being fake. His claim that this exonerates MQM from all that made it unpopular in the country is preposterous. The notoriety the party has accumulated over the years is on account of the use of violence as a tactic to achieve political ends. This, it still has not abandoned, as the gory incidents of May 12, caught on TV cameras, amply indicate. Sindh High Court is currently apprised of a petition alleging that the mayhem in which 50 people belonging to different political parties died occurred 'on the direction and patronage' of, among others, Pervez Musharraf and Altaf Hussain. The court has issued summons to all the respondents. Instead of taking recourse to dramatics, is time the MQM chief appears before the court to clarify his position. The self-righteous posture assumed by Altaf indicates he does not realise the need to abandon the style of politics that many in the country rightly object to. In case he continues with the narrow ethnic politics conducted through violence and extortion, there is little hope of the MQM gaining support outside urban Sindh. If dead bodies continue to be sent to Punjab, NWFP, Balochistan and interior Sindh, it would be unrealistic to hope that people there would shower flower petals on MQM leaders.