Sultan M Hali
THE Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) appears to be on the warpath against Pakistan. Its exiled founder Altaf Hussain has held talks with anti-Pakistan US Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher and exiled Baloch leader Khan of Kalat at the MQM’s International Secretariat in order to work together for the “common cause”. In a statement, the MQM said Altaf briefed the US lawmaker from California about alleged human rights violations and arrests of MQM workers in Karachi. The meeting lasted four hours and members of MQM’s Rabita Committee attended the meeting.
When contacted, an MQM spokesman said the US Congressman expressed his sorrow over the rights abuses and assured the MQM leader that he will take up his party’s (MQM) case at the US Congress and other forums. The spokesman confirmed that Khan of Kalat had also attended the meeting and agreed with Altaf Hussain that they will work together for the common cause. The MQM said it had been agreed that all “like-minded” people will work together in future and increase coordination.
Meeting with the openly hostile US Congressman comes after Altaf’s trusted lieutenant Nadeem Nusrat met Senator John McCain, Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher and Ted Poe in Washington at the end of June to seek their help. After the media released details of these meetings, including MQM-London’s recent intervention at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, MQM-Pakistan’s leader Farooq Sattar accused London chapter and his former comrades of working against interests of Pakistan and for shaking hands with hostile elements known for their anti-Pakistan bias.
It is sad that Pakistan is being betrayed by political leaders, who had come to the fore in the name of raising their voice to uplift the downtrodden and oppressed. In the past too this party’s leadership had harassed the citizens of Karachi, indulging in traumatizing the people into subjugation and paying extortion fees to MQM. Ever since its self imposed exile to London, its leadership has been involved in Scotland Yard’s inquiries regarding money laundering. Altaf Hussain has been inciting people to conflict and creating chaos. Last year, after an intervention by its exiled leader in London led to a night of violence followed by the detention of senior party members and shutdown of its headquarters. Officials closed the “Nine Zero” offices of the MQM in Karachi after supporters of the party ransacked two television stations in a rampage that left one person dead and eight injured.
The violence came after MQM’s leader in exile, Altaf Hussain, lambasted Pakistan as a “cancer for the entire world” and the “epicenter of terrorism” in a speech broadcast over loudspeakers to a crowd in the city from his base in north London, where he has run the party since the early 1990s. By appearing to incite his followers to attack the media for not covering his speeches, Hussain triggered an unprecedented challenge to his control over a party that has dominated the politics and commerce of Pakistan’s business capital for decades.
He urged his supporters to “move” on two private television news stations, to “get justice”. Immediately afterwards, two television stations and their satellite trucks were attacked, including with gunfire. One person was killed in the violence while police vehicles were also torched. The rangers acted swiftly, rounding up senior MQM leaders, the police responded to Hussain’s speech by lodging a treason case against him. The commander of the rangers vowed to take action and promised to detain anyone who had listened to Hussain’s speech and who could be identified by security camera footage.
Later Altaf Hussain apologized for his remarks, claiming he had been under severe mental stress.The apology was not enough to assuage party leaders in Karachi who have been repeatedly embarrassed by Hussain’s outbursts. This was the turning point for a number of Altaf Hussain’s compatriots in Pakistan to part ways with the London leadership. MQM, which was established by Altaf Hussain in 1984, has long dominated the city through the loyal support of Karachi’s Muhajir community – relatively well-off Urdu speakers who migrated from India after independence in 1947, and their descendants. While the party promotes a secular politics that staunchly opposes Islamist militancy, it also runs a violent enforcement wing that dominates the city’s criminal economy.
In March 2015, assault rifles were found during a raid on MQM’s offices. Last year has seen a ban on media coverage of speeches by Hussain. MQM leadership’s meetings with enemies of Pakistan especially those involved in moulding public opinion against Pakistan has left no doubt regarding treacherous behaviour pattern of extremist group. MQM London has made overtures to exiled Baloch factions in recent days and expressed its intention to work with them but no leading Baloch group has replied affirmatively. Mehran Baloch, exiled Baloch leader has said that MQM at its peak was involved in actions against Baloch living in Karachi and discriminated against them.
All political leaders, who claim to serve the interests of Pakistan must be very clear in their minds that in order to be accepted by the people of Pakistan as bona-fide leaders, must not reach out to Pakistan’s enemies for support. However serious their grievances may be, there is no justification for treason. The followers of such leadership must denounce them and refuse to follow them in future. By reaching out to Pakistan’s enemies, such treacherous leaders are only making task of the enemy easier in destabilising Pakistan.
—The writer is retired PAF Group Captain and a TV talk show host.
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Sultan M Hali