“We are a political party, peaceful people and furthermore, not terrorists,” these were the words of a young man who received me at the gate of Nine-Zero in Karachi. It was my maiden visit to the central headquarters of the Karachi-based political party. I was quite curious to talk to leaders of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the party now facing testing times. Party workers, sitting in their well-organised office, adorned with the latest electronic devices, were quite defensive, but in a pleasant mood, commenting with an open heart on the current developments surrounding their party in both Pakistan and the UK.
I spent around an hour at Nine-Zero, talking to party workers about what was happening with their activists and leaders in London. Why has the party attracted such a barrage of accusations even though not enough substantive evidence has been produced against it? MQM workers offered some justification, even though I never really directly questioned them on this point.
But I was stunned at the situation prevalent at Nine-Zero. Why was the party being attacked by every Tom, Dick and Harry? Why was only one political party being targeted in Sindh? Why not other political parties like the Awami National Party or the Jamaat-e-Islami? Is this political victimisation?
I also wondered why the MQM did not introduce self-accountability within its ranks, if there are some bad eggs in the party. I believe that it is inevitable for all political parties to part ways with their rogue elements. It is now or never. The MQM and the PPP should take this initiative first, particularly by establishing peace in Karachi. The question arises as to why the law-enforcement agencies have not tamed their ‘bad guys’. The law-enforcement agencies, shouldn’t, in themselves, become a party while eliminating the miscreants in the port city. A militant should be considered a militant irrespective of his or her political affiliation. I want Karachi to be cleansed of all militants, but the current method being adopted which seemingly targets selective people is far from ideal.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2015.