Against a backdrop of a ongoing cat-and-mouse game between MQM and certain state institutions in Pakistan, Altaf Hussain’s recent telephonic diatribe at a hunger strike camp outside the Karachi press club has virtually proved to be game changer. This inflammatory speech is being viewed as a suicidal attack of Altaf Hussain which has put a decisive nail in MQM’s political coffin in Pakistan. MQM’s party offices throughout the country, including its 90 headquarters, have been sealed by LEA’s. This speech has significantly marginalised all the followers, defenders and apologists of Altaf Hussain. Therefore, there is no one to explain the ‘actual meaning’ and ‘real context’ of Altaf Bhai’s speech in Pakistan.

In the face of strong criticism, MQM’s parliamentary leader Farooq Sattar has announced the MQM would disassociate themselves from Altaf Hussain after forming the ‘MQM Pakistan’ a few days ago. “From now onwards”, he maintained, “all crucial party decisions will be made in Pakistan instated of London”. As a matter of fact, the MQM is based on the very ideology of “Altafism”, the political thoughts and outlook of Altaf Hussain. The MQM has no existence or identity independent of Altaf Hussain; the founder, the ideologue and supreme leader of the party. This ‘unity of existence’ is somewhat the most fundamental characteristic of MQM. Whenever any new entrant joins MQM, he has to pledge his unqualified loyalty to Altaf Hussain under all circumstances. Their leader (Altaf Hussain) has always taken precedence over their destination; the ultimate welfare of Urdu-speaking community. Obviously there can be no such thing in MQM as minus Altaf Hussain.

Presently political uncertainty has gripped the city of Karachi. There have surfaced many doubts and confusions about the political future of MQM. On one hand MQM’s diehard leaders are zealously trying to keep their party intact by making unilateral ‘disclaimer statements’. On the other hand Sindh Rangers, supported by military establishment, are actively endeavouring to politically marginalise the MQM. All party offices of MQM have been either sealed or demolished altogether. However, the role of the federal government is entirely missing in Karachi’s current political discourse. The federal government has yet not formally reacted to the recent unusual political developments in Karachi. It has maintained a mysterious silence over these developments since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif vowed to hold Altaf Hussain accountable for “each word uttered by him against Pakistan”.

Politically and legally, the federal government is supposed to play a pivotal role to resolve the current MQM conundrum. Sections 15 and 16 of Political Parties Order, 2002 specifically provide a legal procedure to deal with current MQM case. Section 15 of the said act empowers the federal government to dissolve a political party by making a deceleration in the Official Gazette if it “satisfied that a political party is foreign-aided party, or has been formed or is operating in a manner prejudicial to the sovereignty or integrity of Pakistan, or is indulging in terrorism”. However, within 15 days of making such a declaration, the federal government has to refer this matter to the Supreme Court of Pakistan, which can conclusively determine and finally decide this matter.

Ever since the Sindh Rangers have formally launched current Karachi operation last year, a large number of MQM activists have been nabbed by LEA’s who were involved in various criminal cum terrorist activities in Karachi. It has been maintained that MQM possessed a squad of target killers and extortionists. Similarly, the unfortunate May 12 carnage and 2012 Baldia Town factory fire incident in Karachi are also being attributed to MQM’s militant wing. Besides this, many individuals, including MQM’s own party leaders and activists, have pointed fingers at MQM for its alleged connections with hostile Indian intelligence agency RAW. Altaf Hussain’s recent inflammatory speech has further substantially established his anti-Pakistan credentials. Obviously these things needs serious consideration. Therefore, now it is incumbent upon the federal government to seriously ascertain these allegations against the MQM.

In fact, under Section 15 of Political Parties Order, 2002, the federal government is duty-bound to take legal action against MQM as there is a prima facie case sufficient to initiate legal proceedings against the most controversial political party. At this stage, if the federal government neglects to do this, then it would be tantamount to the facilitation and support of the MQM. In order to overcome current political uncertainly and turmoil in Karachi, the MQM case should now be legally decided by the Apex Court for good. It should no longer be only a matter for extensive media trials and debates. In the absence of befitting legal response on the part of federal government, the military establishment will try unilaterally fix the MQM issue, which would politicise the current Karachi operation. It would also expose Sindh Rangers to uncalled-for controversies, jeopardising the ongoing cleansing measures in Karachi.

The MQM has contested all elections, including the 2013 General Elections, under party’s current constitution and manifesto. Under MQM’s party constitution, Altaf Hussain is party’s supreme leader (Quaid-e-Tehreek) who wields considerable powers to make crucial decisions in party. The same constitution is also registered with the Election Commission of Pakistan. Therefore, legally, it is Altaf Hussain who can divorce or dissolve MQM’s Rabita (coordination) committee instead of vice versa. Moreover, under section 16 of Political Parties Order, 2002, any member of political party can only publicly announce his disassociation with the political party once the matter has been referred to the Apex Court for decision by the federal government. Therefore, at this stage, Farooq Sattar’s ‘disclaimer statement’ is of no legal or political significance. Farooq Sattar’s recent political move appears to be only a last-ditch effort to rescue the beleaguered MQM and its troubled leader.

Under the law of the land, a dual national cannot contest a parliamentary election in Pakistan, nor can he be associated with any political party in any way. But strangely, Altaf Hussain has been running a full-fledged political party from British soil for many years. A British national has been allowed to wreak havoc with the peace and stability of Pakistan’s largest city. Owing to some political expediency, Pakistan has never demanded the extradition of Altaf Hussain from the British with the view of trying him in Pakistan. Instead, the government of Pakistan has been asking British authorities to take legal action against Altaf Hussain in UK in accordance with British laws. Soon after the recent diatribe of Altaf Hussain, the government of Pakistan approached the relevant British authorities, making a request to act against him for inciting violence in Pakistan.

In fact, the MQM issue has reached a tipping point. Now Pakistan has to prove its mettle as a state by taking this bull by the horn. Pakistan has already paid a heavy price for its neglect and inaction. The federal government must proactively maneuver for Altaf Hussain’s extradition to Pakistan. MQM’s all leaders and activists, including Altaf Hussain, who are involved in criminal activities must be tried and punished. If a popular leader like ZA Bhutto can be hanged on the basis of testimony of a single approver, then why can’t a controversial politician like Altaf Hussain be tried in a court of law?

Now if Pakistan makes a demand for Altaf Hussain’s extradition, the UK government is very likely to accede to Pakistan’s justified demand as UK wouldn’t like to indulge in uncalled for controversies any longer for a single individual. Since Altaf Hussain has visibly lost his political significance, influence and relevance in Pakistan’s politics, therefore his intentional supporters and collaborators would also like to shed this cumbersome liability.

The government needs not worry about the possible reaction and political repercussions of this act. During LEA’s recent crackdown on MQM in Karachi, we have hardly observed any significant opposition from any quarter. Nor have the so-called Urdu-speaking community protested in favour of Altaf Hussain. In fact, MQM’s real power depends on its strong administrative framework comprising an extensive network of a number sectors and units, backed by a squad of target killers and criminals. Once this network is dismantled, MQM’s power will vanish forthwith.

It is high time the long-awaited MQM question should be conclusively determined and adequately answered. The quick-fix ‘minus-one remedy’ would neither help stabilise Karachi nor minimise the underlying woes of the Urdu-speaking community in the city.