Governance is all too often a casualty when there is upheaval or friction within a political party — of the kind seen these days in the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P). No wonder then the administration of Karachi has fared poorly as a result with attention largely divided between the actions of one splintered group and another camp led by the party’s deposed convener Dr Farooq Sattar. Absolute control over MQM-P affairs seems to be the prize and goal for the party’s much divided, petulant leaders and not on the city or its constituents. That has been the untold tragedy of Karachi for long — even before the latest round of infighting began to hit the party.
In some ways the situation in Karachi is not dissimilar to the awkward paralysis seen in the PML-N government at the centre following the ouster of Nawaz Sharif last year. Decision-making has been hamstrung for the most part by frequent and pointless consultation with the head of the party. Despite installing a replacement for Nawaz Sharif, the ruling party has not allowed itself to move away from the shadows of the former premier and resolve day-to day issues independently.
There are serious questions about the legitimacy of conducting or even calling an intra-party election within the MQM-P and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has been placed in an unenviable position as it has been asked to settle some contentious issues. Each camp has contested the other’s convener and filed separate claims for the party’s overall registration. The ECP has been categorical about leadership changes, refusing to accept any change without intra-party elections — a condition that has been contested by the camp that ousted Sattar.
The City Council seems to have become a backdrop of confrontational politics as well. Loyalties appear to be divided in the council between supporters of the two camps. This is indeed an unfortunate development.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 15th, 2018.
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