The Mutahida Qaumi Movement is acting more and more like the Muhajir Qaumi Movement, with its resignations and celebrations of a “Black Day.” MQM leader Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui had earlier criticised the PPP and accused them of indulging in the politics of hatred and ethnicity, but their resignations have made clear that they are still reliant on the politics of ethnicity. While Khursheed Shah has apologised, the focus is now not on the gaffs of the PPP but how the MQM continues to treat Karachi like its personal fiefdom with strikes and demonstrations that bring the city to a standstill.

The MQM is however, to some extent justified in pressing its demand for more provinces throughout Pakistan including Sindh. A single Chief Minister does not and cannot efficiently work for such a vast area and population. However, these demands can be presented and discussed by lawmakers and there needs to be consensus on any decision of such enormity. The trend of “dharna politics” needs to change. Populism is understandable, and people have a right to participate and protest, but once they have, once parliamentarians are in parliaments, can they not try to sort out these issues? What use are our representatives, when they refuse to represent us and make idols out of the likes of Altaf Bhai, Imran Khan and Bilawal Bhutto? Quitting governments is all about party politics and not about getting things done for the people. When the MQM was in power during the Musharraf era, there was no demand for separate provinces. Rather than politicians bringing politics out onto the street, they have to try and bring the people’s wishes into legislation. All of this also shows that people have zero confidence in the government of Sindh and so do those sitting in the provincial assembly.

The MQM need the “Muhajir” discourse to continue to keep control over the politics of identity and then claim to be a representative of that identity. The MQM wants to go national, but in doing so it cannot lose its Muhajir base. The ruckus over Shah’s slip-of-tongue is part of this politics, because his statement pointed to a removal of this identity, in the place of “nativeness”. Sure, Shah’s statement was insensitive, whatever the meaning truly was behind it. But let us not forget that Altaf Husain is himself a Muhajir, in his adopted country of the UK. By that logic, it all makes sense. A Muhajir movement let by a practicing Muhajir!