By Brig Said Nazir Mohmand (Retd)
“It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both”. Niccolo Machiavelli
The launching of operation in Zarb e Azb in June last year by Pakistan Army against the militants in North Waziristan was hailed and loudly supported by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).The Success stories during the operation were heralded and praised by the MQM local and foreign based political leadership.MQM went to the extent of providing volunteers for fighting militancy in the tribal belt, called FATA.
Prior to the launching of operation Zarb e Azb, a cleansing operation against miscreants was launched in Karachi by the para military forces. The ongoing operation in Karachi against target killers, extortionists, kidnapers for ransom, gang war mongers, sectarian killers, land mafias and militant wings of political parties was launched with the consensus of all political parties including MQM. There were times during the operation, where MQM put a question mark on the success of the operation and demanded the intervention of Army and imposition of martial law to carry out across the board cleansing in Karachi. The devil posted and demon presented was Taliban and Talibnization of Karachi. However, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) findings presented in the Supreme Court were pointing fingers at the militant wings of the political parties responsible for the mayhem in the cosmopolitan city.
The operation got prolonged due to non cooperation of the political parties, politicizing of police and other vested interests. Some impetus was brought in the process as a pursuance to the aims and objectives of operation Zarb e Azb. The bite was added to the Karachi operation in the after- math of the National Action Plan (NAP).The last straw on the camel back was added when the JIT report surfaced in the court of law, alleging MQM hand in the Baldia Town factory inferno, where more than 250 workers were burnt alive on refusal to pay the extortion money by the factory owners. Though, MQM denied the involvement, but the denial fell short on the opinion making plinth. It created a public outcry across the country and arrayed public opinion against the extortionists (Bata- Mongers).
MQM was blowing hot and cold and followed the, imply and deny mode to gain political space, pose as victim and capitalize on the sympathy syndrome. It has remained in power at the federal and provincial level and has a share in the malaise and instability of Karachi. The irony of the fact is that once it is in power it builds its own empire and when in opposition plays a spoiler role. Therefore, the political dispensation considers it appropriate to keep the MQM in the loop to ensure its stakes in Karachi. It is also a fact that the governor Sind, citadel is in occupation of Mr. Eshratul Ibad from MQM; for the last 12 years, irrespective of the party who rules in the center.MQM is also in the habit of hug and shrug with the provincial and federal govt on one pretext or the other and oscillate on the two extremes. Its leadership with the Rabita Committee Eleven has played many twenty: twenty matches with almost all the political parties of Pakistan. There is no doubt that MQM has elevated the middle educated class to the higher hierarchy of political leadership and governance, but somehow remains wary of its own workers. They have the mandate of the people of Karachi, but exploit it to a degree amounting to hijacking the mega city.
The general perception of the MQM politics is somewhat negative, partly because of the unique dynamics of the metropolitan and mostly because of the party high headedness and heavy handedness. The fault-lines lie on both sides of the divide in the overall perspective of real politics.
It is the considered opinion of the political analyst and independent observers that MQM has lost the high moral ground and unstinted support in its own cult, because of: a) the leadership has become impulsive and reactive to the events in a disproportionate way; there by losing sight of magnanimity and sagacity. b) The telephonic address and talk shows are lengthy, repetitive and rhetorical in nature, punctuated with un-parliamentary language and derogatory remarks; which are counterproductive and repulsive rather than creating conducive environments. c), The party lakes the spirit of mutual coexistence in Karachi and follow the strategy of intimidation and confrontation rather than appeasement and political tolerance. d), The party has enjoyed maximum political space during the dictatorship and lost the ground gained during the democratically elected govts. Its leadership lakes the requisite balance while appeasing and displeasing the security establishment. They have a selective application of their curse and praise once it comes to self –centric interests. e), The personality cult prevails in the party, which is too central, egotistic and carry the lash to hire and fire and at times splash it to smash the decent) f),The party still oscillate on the frequencies of the eighties and nineties and maintain cadres on ethno-lingo biases. The canopy effect has not only overshadowed the under growth but restricted the mushrooming of the party beyond Sind.
The reaction to the Rangers raid on the MQM center, Azizabad called nine-zero is an accumulative effect of their displayed behavior and stated policy parameters regarding Karachi. It was, to the utter surprise of the party leadership that such a swift action could be taken against their well guarded citadel without their prior knowledge. The double jeopardy came when on spot media briefing was conducted by Col Tahir, with the cache openly displayed.MQM party stalwarts instead of carrying out factual analysis, deliberations and close coordination started conducting media blitz. The vibrant media exposed their jerky response, clumsy logic and utter confusion; which instead of doing damaged control further tarnished their image.
The party Qaed, Altaf Hussain did not take proper cognizance of the precarious situation and went on the denial and confrontational mode as a routine. He was so casual to say that the (criminals) should have gone here and there instead of putting in trouble the majority. It implies that the wanted ones were given shelter with the connivance of the party leadership and also a coded signal for the remnants elsewhere in the MQM protection to change their dens.
It appears that the party is not yet over; rather it has started afresh on a serious note. It is strange enough to note that MQM leaders are consistently appealing the Army Chief, DG ISI and DG Sind Rangers to hold their horses, (rangers) and made them accountable for the raid on their political nerve center. It is sad that political expediency was displayed by some political parties in the Senate and in media; by painting the MQM HQ, as a sacred cow.
It is naive to think that the raid has no prior blessings of the military and intelligence top hierarchy. It is also foolhardy on the part of any political, ethnic and religious party or group to habour militants and stay immune to any action, raid or siege and search operation. This resolve has been amply stated and displayed by the top leadership of the security establishment.
Therefore, the way out for the MQM from the present crisis, is to carry out self cleansing and part ways with the militant wing instantly, before it embroils into a tug of war. The zero-zero tolerance mantra alone will not work; unless the actions are seen to be taking place and ground reality check confirm the deeds not the rhetoric. The way forward for other political forces maintaining militant wings and harbouring miscreants is to immediately jettison their back baggage.
“It is double pleasure to deceive the deceiver”. Niccolo Machiavelli
The cache during the raid on the MQM HQ is an eye opener and the startling disclosures during the interrogation are a prelude to something big enough to raise the so-called towering personalities to the dust. It is said that the leopard do not change its spots and blood spilled never goes wasted therefore; the perpetrators of all the big crimes and the monsters of Baldia Town like carnages will not only be exposed but brought to justice. As the tempo and scope of the operation is going to be increased and expended, the roots of militancy will be exposed and severed across the board. The credit and public support will weigh in favour of the law enforcing agencies as long as they stay away from playing bipartisan role and remain immune to political pressure and vested interests. ,.
There is a lesson for the for all the political parties and other ethno-religious forces to respect the tolerance, resolve and patriotic spirits of the people of FATA, who are bearing the brunt of the warring factions for more than a decade in the most violent form; but never raised a foreign flag, chanted an anti state slogan or resisted the series of military operations in any way or manifestation. There is colossal collateral damage to their life and property, besides facing large scale displacement. They have no access to the basic human rights but are still more disciplined, law abiding and cooperative with the security forces at the pearl of their lives.MQM has not yet faced even an iota of the collateral damage as compared to the people of FATA. The so-called liberal parties and its ilk have not shed even a single crocodile tear for the tribal people, once the coffins of their near and dear ones were snatched and water cannoned in front of the governor house in Peshawar.
The time has changed and the Machiavelli prince is since long dead. Karachi had enough of its dark days and long shadows casted by the power politics and mafias. Like FATA, Karachi has also been used and abused by the powerful dictators and politicians alike. It is now almost thirty years that Karachi is in the grip of violence, mayhem and disturbance. The multi- ethnic city, a green pasture for the poor and rich alike; sheltering all and sundry in the most peaceful environment till 1984, has since been turned into the ground zero of violence by the turf war mongers. The people of Karachi are well aware of the game being played by the cracks and crooks at the expense of their life, peace and property. They are feed up with dirty politics but unfortunately cannot get out the woods due to petty interests and compromises by the power centers. The hub of economy and communication is getting deserted due to flight of investment, industry and entrepreneurship. The brain-drain is yet another dimension of the plight of the cosmopolitans. In the final analysis name any ill, crime and hate which has not increased many folds in the last three decades. All the stakeholders in the federation are to be blamed for this dismal situation, but the major shareholder is the MQM which claimed the so-called mandate of the people of Karachi. Since, MQM remained in power for most of the times in the center and Sind, therefore by implication the buck of the good and the bad stops at the party’s door step.
There are two ways to clean the dirt and clear the mess. First, it is the responsibility of all those political forces that brought Karachi to this impasse. They should owe the wreck and fix it to the original state. It is only possible if they jettison their back baggage and start a fresh after cleansing their respective backyards from the militants, miscreants, extortionists and target killers. To do this hard job; they have to disengage from the turf war and opt for the governor rule under a non –bipartisan governor. All the parties shall voluntarily surrender their perks, privileges and abandoned the gangs and mafias to be dealt with by the security agencies. The level playing ground shall remove the prevailing misperception, patronage and fear of reprisal amongst the masses. The political umbrella from the criminals be removed and crime be left orphan and astray in the streets of Karachi to get hunted at the hands of law enforcing agencies.
The next phase is the de-weaponization of Karachi in a way that all legal and illegal arms are surrendered and the licenses are issued afresh on merit and above the political and ethnic affiliations. As the normalcy prevails, local body elections are held on non party basis, so that the people of Karachi are able to exercise their free will in choosing their representatives on merit and clean past record.
Meanwhile, the political parties shall carry out their own reorganization and rejuvenation on a clean slate. All those having violent mind-set and abrasive political motives shall find no place in their rank and file or higher hierarchy. Though, it appears to be an idealistic approach, but there is no solution without being idealistic as the dirty real politics had enough of the damage done to the people of Karachi irrespective of their ethnic and linguistic lineage.
Second,It is high time to restore order and peace in Karachi, whatever it may take. The ongoing operation shall be provided with requisite moral and material support, besides quick dispensation of justice via civil and military anti- terrorist courts. The twenty points, National Action Plan be further reinforced by including and closing the noose around terrorists in all forms and manifestation.
It is ironic that during the middle of the crisis, the previous operation masters are being ridiculed. While the present ones are called “as they were and as they are going to be, were”, in a punch line overtone for dire consequences. Thus, the retracing of steps by the Rangers will amount to a zero sum game and repetition of the target killings of the present operation team; as the despicable elimination of the managers of the previous operations was done in the past.
Though, the media is under intimidation but cognizance must be taken of the fact that the direct tele-talk and live interviews of Altaf Hussain are to be edited in the interest of public safety, moral values and to bring balance at the fulcrum of National Action Plan. This very aspect must be analysed in the light of the fact that Altaf Hussain is imposed on the viewers by almost all the private t.v channels even during the prime time because of impunity against media. The episode of two lunch boxes for the media personnel is a case in point; once Rabita Committee members were roughed out during the tele- talk from London.
The chips are down and it is becoming difficult for the local leadership of MQM to cover up or justify the rhetoric, tinge and tone of their Qaed. Their closet is already full of skeleton in London on account of money laundering, Dr.Imran’s murder and inciting violence via tele -talk as per George Galloway MP speech in the House of Commons. It is not always the same in politics, besides being the beauty of democracy to descend and ascend within the party according to the prevailing situation. It is up to the MQM to change course, reshuffle or do away with the self imposed exile and be on the ground zero to take the party out of the woods. The transition and mutation is the need of the hour, as the chinks are visible and solo flights are waiting for the fair weather. It is better to be, rather not to be as a political force to reckon with as per Niccolo Machiavelli, ” I’m not interested in preserving the status quo;i want to overthrow it”.
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The 68th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China.
— The Daily Mail - People's Daily