Altaf Husain is an act in a circus show. At least Farooq Sattar sings sanity. Neither of them though truly represent the MQM, the party of the middle class. Democracy, it turns out, is not really the best way to do things. Not that there is a better way but, even democracy fails to represent who’s speaking what.

Take our present government. Not many truly enjoy seeing the Sharif name in any and everything under the sun. The name is tainted with corruption and nepotism and yet they emerge as victors simply because the other option seemed worse. Sitting on the throne, speaking language that has but little content, do the Sharif’s really represent the thoughts and opinions of a common PML-N supporter? Of course not. Again, neither does Altaf Hussain, nor Farooq Sattar.

MQM has an interesting story behind it one that deserves a read. MQM rose out a subjugated philosophy and an uneasy environment. Never before has a local accepted the migrator as did the people of Madina. Never has this been repeated. As the sun of 14th of August 1947 rose, there were hopes and dreams of reincarnation of the same fervor. Everyone was uniting under the flag of a common religion; a common nationality. It was expected the migration from India to Pakistan would reflect the difficult journey across the heat baked desert of Arabia. The expectations were naturally too romantic to have been taken seriously and yet, that’s the thing with religiously motivated crowds. Everything can and is believed.

The local populace of Punjab and Sindh were landlords and businessmen even before the partition. The former had an arid land due to the plateau. The latter, was a port. These were thriving communities and the influx of migrants would hamper the balance. And it did. Obviously there were class struggles. The state bureaucracy was far, far from being able to cater to the needs of the migrants. Our history books tell us there was a lack of resources, but there was much mismanagement as well. There was a failure of planning and a reluctance to appreciate the gravity of the situation.

Those who migrated, the mohajirs, could never really become local. How could they? The new born state of Pakistan could not afford new starts. Its situation demanded a continuation of what was already there, a status quo to be maintained, hence the continuation of social and political disparities. The Mohajirs must have had expected a lot more. How could they not? They’d left everything they’d had behind. No hands however embraced the lot. So much for hoping to be the muhajireen to the ansar.

MQM came to understand that they would never be taken as locals. Unfortunately, they fail to see that the said philosophy develops when the situations demands as such. If the said segment of the society were in fact given the opportunity to become one, they would have for sure. No one likes living like an alien in their own homes. The same of course can be said about the Baloch nationalists. It would be sensible to not jeer at someone who expresses frustrations from years and years of disparity and disassociation. That’s pretty much the first step towards integration; towards accepting them as us.

And then there was the environment. How can a voice be heard in the very ugly world of Pakistani politics? No other example would be better placed here than Imran Khan and his 2 sidekicks: Jehangir Tareen and Shah Mehmooq Qureshi. In the stage of Pakistani politics, you can excel if you either have a lot of money or a lot of influence (religious or otherwise). Tareen had deep pockets. Qureshi has his devotees and political connections. Imran had charisma and he roped the two into a unique combination which stutterers but works. How could a middle class Pakistani hope to do the same? He can’t so, he chooses the third option: intimidation.

There is no need for a recollection of all the times MQM party has devolved into thugs. In the very obfuscated politics of Karachi, it was the only thing that would have allowed it to become what they did. As goes with the norms of power, they developed a taste of it and continued it long after it had lost its need. That said, for the time, when it was needed, nothing else would have worked. Of course this was not the fairest tactic but the Karachi politics was hardly the best stage.

The MQM of now must let go of its past. Those with opinions must let MQM do that as well. It needs a new identity, a new voice. This can come in the form of a reformed Altaf Hussain or a more outspoken Farooq Sattar. It can come in the form of someone completely new. That said, let’s allow the MQM worker to find their voice and not push them into a setting that dictates their actions. We, as a society have done such experiments before. We should understand by now that these simply don’t work.