MQM split can be dangerous, unity in their ranks will help Karachi prosper

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Salahuddin Haider

For hours together in my leisure time of Sunday morning, I kept reading again and again a statement from Mayor Waseem Akhtar about the sorry state of affairs in Karachi. This could well be dismissed lightly or politically motivated, but the naked, bitter truth remains that Karachi, the city that feeds the country and has generally been hailed its economic engine, is suffering because of the rift between Sindh administration, and the elected representatives of the local self government.
Power has to be dissolved to lowest tiers of the administration. The civilized world, whether Europe, America, Japan, Canada, or Australia, and even next door neighbor, India, all have stood by this principle. New Delhi, in fact, is a strange example of devolution of authority. It is Union, as well as provincial seat of authority, where BJP and Awam Party simultaneously are in power.
Unfortunate for Sindh and Karachi, that a city with 20 million population, struggling to find moorings or identity. The end result since the municipal elections, ordered by the Supreme Court last year till date, is that because of the rift for authority, a city, the hub of trade and development, has not been able to play the role assigned to it. But while the PPP, in power since 2008 refuses to part with authority, the political divide of MQM too has been largely responsible for the sordid state of affairs in a city whose population is bigger than some of the world’s smaller States
Unity has to be the key word for sustained development. Scholars, politicians, leaders, philosophers of repute have, all, emphasized its importance. To name a few, Sir Winston Churchil, Abraham Lincoln, and Nelson Mandela have spoken words that are worth acting upon. Gloria Arroyo Macapagal of the Philippines dis say that “ We have to be bold in our national ambitions. First, we must win the fight against poverty within the next decade. Second, we must improve moral standards in government and society to provide a strong foundation for good governance. Third, we must change the character of our politics to promote fertile ground for reforms”
Equally important are the words of Winston Churchill who said that explaining democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter. A great leader of modern world, Nelson Mandela’s words that “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” all should serve as the beacon light for those involved in fighting among themselves. Add to this the quote from Gandhi that “ for unity to be real, must stand the severest strain without breaking” and Abraham Lincoln’s saying that “ a house divided against itself cannot stand “nor endure the test of time.
The principle or the purpose for citing such glorious sayings is to show light to those who can, if united, can do tremendous service to the people of their city. Whether Altaf Hussain chapter is closed for good, time alone can tell, but successors like Farooq Sattar, or Mustafa Kamal ( the word “successor” has been deliberately used here for being an objective reality), do realize that in unity alone can help them achieve the mission they have been struggling for.
A house divided is like a house of cards, prone to falling apart at slightest jerk, a fact proven in the latest be-election for PS-114 provincial assembly constituency of Karachi. MQM has been winning it for record time, spanning long years. But now that it has lost by a big margin of 5,500 votes to PPP’s Senator Saeed Ghani, should be an eye-opener. That Farooq Sattar has petitioned before the election commission, and results have been withheld, by no means can be called satisfactory. The fact remains that MQM Pakistan could not mobilise its resources, and suffered humiliation, which, if allowed to go unattended, can change the political landscape of Karachi completely. That is now being clearly foreseen.
Whether PPP won on merit, and whether claim from its leadership that Karachi is theirs now, could gain strength when the real test comes in the general elections. History reminds that Peoples Party has never been successful in Karachi, In 1970 elections, when Karachi had just 7 seats, PPP won two National Assembly seats, while similar number bagged by JUP, and Jamat-i-Islami, and from 1988, the scenario changed upside down, and MQM became the most powerful force. Accusations, allegations are a natural corollary on such occasions, and need not be heeded or given importance.
Simultaneously, however, some soul searching is required. Lessons must be learnt from poor performance of the PPP government from 2008 to 2013, which saw its rout from the Punjab, and becoming a regional reality for Sindh. As for Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP), and its leader, Mustafa Kamal, his gesture to waive an olive branch to Farooq Sattar, was a mere half-hearted attempt. All said and done, the fact remains that Farooq Sattar controls the majority of MQM supporters. Claims therefore, that PSP platform should be availed of, is bound to go unheeded, which was clearly visible in the retort from MQM Pakistan leaders.