Lady luck begins to smile on Altaf again

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Salahuddin Haider

PREDICTIONS made by this scribe few months again that Altaf Hussain may slowly overcome his difficulties have begun to come true. Police first exempted him and six of his colleagues from reporting for investigations, and now his British passport has been returned after a considerably long period of time. All these developments have been a happy augury for him, and for millions of his followers at home.
A private but authentic TV channel reported that the MQM leader had secured visa form from the Pakistani High Commission in London, remains unconfirmed, but chances of his return to karachi from over two decades of exile, appear pretty slim. The Islamabad ministry of interior had been after him, but now the minister incharge Chaudhri Nisar looks less enthusiastic about an issue, he had been playing up for quite some time.
Altaf had said before that he will return to his people once his passport was restored. Now that it has happened finally, and reports that he intended applying for Pakistan visa has been taken rather calmly. Euphoria, normally anticipated or witnessed on such occasions, has not been missing here. Assessment from a well-known analyst that Muttahida Qoumi Movement was in touch with authorities in England and Pakistan, is difficult to confirm, but Governor Ishratul Ebad, despite differences with his party, still seem to have sympathy for his mentor. Whether he was also instrumental in seeking a safe return for Altaf to Pakistan, could well be a conjecture.
Altaf , not only has enormous number of cases against him, but faces arrest warrants, but whether could be executed is of paramount importance. He is British citizen. His arrival will unleash a turn out on streets of uncontrollable scale. Secondly, he can be arrested in Pakistan, but can the British authorities—the embassy in Islamabad, or the consulate in Karachi, remain idle to that. These are all vital questions, whose answers will have to be seriously searched.
While the new British High Commissioner has made it clear that government in his country, does not exercise any influence on police, and added to this is the persistent stand from British sources that lack of evidence against him or his colleagues in money laundering or the Imran Farooq murder cases, have been a major handicap for the Scotland Yard. The Crown Prosecution, the agency, which files cases in British courts, has, according to authentic sources, seems dissatisfied with the results of Metropolitan Police enquiries so far.
Investigations in the matter have continued, but the MQM leader and colleagues, have been given relief from appearing at police stations. The return of passport, seized since the start of these probes, both have been a plus point for the MQM. In Karachi, meanwhile, which has been his power base, the demand for a new province on administrative basis in Sindh, has been gaining ground.
The party is now in real opposition to PPP, ruling the southern province. Protest demonstrations against “discriminatory attitude” of the Sindh government against Karachi, and the tough attitude of its members in Sindh Assembly, their agitation against alleged” arbitrary legislation”, tearing of government bills, walk-outs etc, are almost a daily occurrence.
The party, whose philosophy of support for the lower, and middle classes, is acknowledged even from some of the most hostile opponents, has also been persistently protesting against the continued ban on publication or airing of his speeches and views in print and electronic media. An appeal is pending in highest judicial forum of the country against the restrictions imposed by the Lahore High Court.
To conclude, it would be safer to say that coming few weeks or months, may see interesting developments, some of which can have enormous impact on the country’s political map. What is intriguing is Altaf Hussain’s latest appeal to followers to restore food and other items of daily use.
The only plausible explanation could be ominous threats of attacks on its nerve centre of 90, or on party’s leading lights, their houses and offices. MQM has been relentlessly pursuing a secular ideology, and has been a principal opponent of extremists. The party needs to clarify its position to clear the foggy or scary situations, that has begun to develop in Karachi now.