Civil society joins protest for release of Karachi Mayor


Salahuddin Haider

Karachi—After waiting for so long, the civil society finally joined the protest demonstration Sunday for the release from jail of Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar. The protest, held in Clifton, saw some touching scenes as kids, including those of the mayor, stood motionless, dumb-founded on the continuing detention of a person who was supposed to be in office atleast a month ago to take care of the mounting problems of water, sanitation, hygiene, and development work in a mega city, considered the revenue engine of the country. Mayors in developed and civilized world are treated as city fathers. They normally receive the visiting heads of States and governments, and visiting dignitaries ahead of the host country’s presidents or prime ministers and then introduce the arriving guest to them.
An office holder of such importance is kept in jail, despite being mandated by the electorate is a matter of deep concern for citizens, intellectuals, journalists, and all those upholding the rule of law. They remained silent hoping the establishment to see wisdom, but could not resist coming onto streets with banners and placards to ask for his freedom. Waseem, a former minister, MNA, and now the city father, is facing charges charged involving May 12, 2007 incidents of Karachi. The oft-repeated emphasis that the Karachi or the Sindh administration at that time, was guilty of preventing the then chief justice of Pakistan Chaudhury Iftikhar from entering Karachi, is only the half-truth.
The story has many dimensions and need to be told in full. Questions like the role of then then President, General Pervez Musharraf, attempts made by Sindh Governor to defuse the situation all are links that need to be connected in a proper chain and then analysed. What happened inside the VIP room of the Karachi airport when the then iG,Police called him and his principal adviser Aitzaz Ahasan. What reply did the police chief received? These are all vital questions and need to be scrutinized in detail. The question which the court has to go into is whether Waseem Akhtar alone was responsible for everything that happened in Karachi that day? Why Waseem is being held responsible for that, police and interrogaters must know better. But even if he is charged with something, he can be released on bail for the simple reason that he has to take control of Karachi, a city of 20 million, beset with numerous problems, each more serious than the other.
In any case Waseem’s job is not only tedious, it is becoming ever more challenging in the context of the war of words that has now started between the MQM Pakistan, and Altaf Hussain’s organization of MQM, London.
The tussle between the two instead of cooling down, has continued to generate new heat, which in turn is worsening the situation. Even Saturday night, the “convener” of the MQM,London Nadeem Nusrat ordered the party legislators to quit their assembly seats and seek fresh elections as individuals, and not as Altaf nominees.
The question needing answer is did the legislators, elected in 2013 elections, won their seats as MQM nominees or did they owe their loyalty to an individual, known as Altaf Hussain?.
The opposition leader in the Sindh Assembly Khawaja Izharul Hasan and the former parliamentary leader of the provincial assembly Faisal Sabzwari have rebutted London’s claim quite convincingly. They replied that had they contested elections on orders of those raising Pakistan Murdabad slogan, they would have got brickbats instead of bouquets. They are therefore under no obligation to resign their seats. They were part of MQM, and continue to be so. The real MQM with its vast majority is in Karachi, Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas, and other areas of the country, remains within Pakistan, and is there the real organisation. The London segment of the party is confined to a few individuals, who have now been disowned.

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