Zulfikar Mirza and PPP’s list of woes
Has Mirza worsened matters for the PPP by attacking the MQM and blaming them for Karachi's law and order situation?
That the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) is facing a tough time is an understatement.
The PPP was barely getting any support for its Reformed General Sales Tax (RGST) bill when one of its own members, the current Sindh Interior Minister Dr Zulfikar Mirza, went on a public tirade making matters much worse. Mirza was invited to speak at an event organized by the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Instead of enlightening the business community about perhaps any progressive steps on behalf of the provincial government toward economic stability, Mirza chose to spend 95 per cent of this time attacking another political party. Mirza’s rant was targeted at Karachi’s dominant party, the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM)—which, he might have forgotten, happens to be a coalition partner of the PPP.
It is completely understandable that as Interior Minister, Mirza has been under stress due to the law and order situation in Karachi. In his speech, however, instead of taking responsibility of the situation, Mirza threw all the blame on the MQM in a not so subtle manner.
In a recent television interview, PPP representative Shahnaz Wazir Ali defended Mirza’s statements by saying that the Interior Minister must have some incriminating evidence against the MQM backing his claims. Well if that is true, it certainly begs the question: why has the PPP not lodged a case against the MQM in court?
If the MQM, as Mirza so eloquently points out, is actually perpetrating crimes in Karachi, then surely it must be taken to court. If these accusations had any truth behind them, Mirza would be making his case against the MQM in the court of law instead of putting on a dramatic show in a desperate attempt to score political points. Mirza’s statements were uncalled for. They were politically inappropriate and quite literally provoked hatred and violence amongst Karachi’s ethnically diverse population.
While he spoke about the need to remove the seed of hatred from society, Mirza threatened the entire Urdu-speaking population by stating that if the different ethnic groups of Karachi (Pathan, Sindhi, Balochi, Punjabi) sought retribution, all they would have to do is open their gates and let their automatic weapons do the work. He challenged the business community to speak out against the MQM, which he sees as enforcing its will through the “barrel of the gun.”
It is important to note that this is all coming from a man that has publicly admitted to issuing countless weapons licenses in Sindh as a solution to the escalating illegal weapons trade. Not only did he wrongfully attack MQM, Mirza was clearly trying to perpetuate Pakistan’s ethnic divide. In a time when diplomacy is preached across the board, Zulfikar Mirza has chosen the easier path of heightening political hostility and instigating civil unrest.
Whether the statements made by Mirza reflect the sentiments of his entire party remains yet to be seen. According to Dawn News, MQM has “given a ten-day deadline to the Pakistan People’s Party to distance itself from the views expressed by Dr. Zulfikar Mirza,” after which it will decide whether to remain in coalition with the government.
Many people suspect that Mirza’s outburst was in response to the MQM’s opposition of PPP’s RGST bill. The MQM, however, is not the only party to commit the crime of opposing a critically flawed piece of legislation that is more likely to harm the people of Pakistan than do any good.
The PPP has failed to secure the number of votes necessary for a simple majority in the National Assembly because along with MQM, the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) has also rejected the bill. Despite the PPP’s desperate attempts at wooing them, both parties have remained firm on their stance to vote against the bill in the assembly. And due to the sacking of a Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) minister, the JUI-F has recently pulled out of the government.
As their supporters are deserting them, the PPP must scramble to fix the mess it has gotten itself into. The PPP leadership needs to clarify the party’s stance, put an end to the hate-mongering and focus their efforts toward cooperation and progress.