The anti-terrorism court’s decision to extend the remand of incumbent mayor Waseem Akhtar led to another twist in the Karachi saga. Even though he was arrested for links to Dr Asim Hussain and facilitating the treatment of violent political workers at state-run hospitals, the charges have now been extended to over ten cases, but the most troubling of these is the police’s claim that Waseem Akhtar was one of those that issued the shooting orders in Karachi on May 12, 2007, when former Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry made a visit to bring the lawyers movement to the provincial capital.

The charges for being involved in the May 12, 2007 violence are very serious and should be investigated into until the truth has been unearthed. And if Waseem Akhtar has confessed, as the police’s charge sheet claims, he has landed himself in some hot water, and his mayoral nomination is not the only thing jeopardised as a result. Over 40 people died as a result of the ensuing riots, and if Waseem Akhtar really did give the orders to open fire, he has a lot to answer for.

But even if he did issue the orders, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the provincial government was only obeying its federal counterpart. And the dictator that was at the head of this federation at the time has already fled the country and has not been held accountable for his crimes. So is using Waseem Akhtar as the scapegoat for the violence really an attempt to serve justice?

However, out of the ten cases lodged there are others, including some for listening to Altaf Hussain’s speeches. The cases lodged against him for listening to Altaf Hussain’s speeches are not really worth being charged over, considering Mr Hussain is the head of the party Waseem Akhtar works for. Charging him would mean that there actually is a witch hunt for MQM leaders currently taking place in Karachi, but it also reveals the ‘pick-and-choose’ mentality of those behind these arrests, and one can only wonder why all other workers of MQM have also not been booked under the same charge. This is beginning to look more and more like a primitive inquisition, and serious charges aside, Altaf Hussain’s mistakes should not be used as a catalyst to single out MQM workers and harass them at every possible opportunity. Waseem Akhtar’s case should be free from political motivations, and should be allowed to be scrutinised by the public, considering the man enjoys popular support in the city he was about to start leading.