Monday, August 29, 2016


We have the MQM without Hussain and Amir Liaqat, which, much as it is unfair to the MQM to compare it with the GOP, is like the GOP without Trump and Sarah Palin, only better, because they have Cruz. The MQM however has been caught with a stash of guns. Still, if Trump had been caught with an illegal stash of guns and disqualified (beatific thought) would it be reasonable to bulldoze Trump Towers, however opulent and vulgar it may be?
Timing is after all of the essence in comedy and in politics, as is good sense. At a time when the MQM appears to be (apparently) working on adjusting its leadership, after it had done something as unprecedented as apologise for its (now, and hopefully for ever ex) leader’s speech and that speech’s repercussions, perhaps the Rangers could have waited before shutting down that party’s offices, even if they considered the party to be a terrorist organisation, waited at least until the results of the apology and the changes made to the leadership had had time to become evident. They obviously also did not stop to recollect that the MQM is an elected party with a mandate from the people, or perhaps that doesn’t count with the Rangers and those they answer to. Rather, we know it doesn’t. Because what it means is that the public has chosen to give its mandate to this organisation, and even if it is terrorist organisation…that, in a democracy, is the public’s choice. As for bulldozing its buildings, even if the MQM is implicated in violence resulting from its leader’s mental wanderings, that still does not warrant bulldozing its offices, even if they were illegally constructed and/or on illegally acquired land. It is after all the Ranger’s remit to combat terrorism not to pull down illegal constructions. Illegal land appropriation and construction are civil offences for which the MQM should be responsible as any organisation or individual should along with the relevant government officials charged with overseeing land and construction. In any case, if they’re illegal they’d been illegal for a while. Where did the sudden impetus come from?  It’s as if the Rangers were waiting for some such thing to happen. As soon as the MQM leader managed to drop a ton of bricks on his foot with a crash that resounded not just through the city as it normally does but across the country, they pounced, bulldozers on the ready. The Rangers’ action smacks of stepping over the line, but neither the military nor its allied departments are known for line dancing. They never are, anywhere in the world. The military is meant to shoot first and ask questions later if at all. That is why responsibility for general law and order in a city is better invested with a civilian government and its civilian departments – such as the police. Sadly, in the case of Karachi the civilian government let its people down big time. Clearly government is not best run by proxy invested in a juvenile, from outside the country by people who are uninterested in governance.
The issue of institutions overstepping their remit is an issue touched upon only in the Awami National Party (ANP)’s manifesto which says: ‘The ANP opposes any interference in politics by civil and military bureaucracy. ANP upholds the basic principle that all institutions shall work within their Constitutional limits.’
Even if one has never been a supporter of any political party, it would be a pity if there was a clampdown on the MQM. It wouldn’t be possible for a start because it is probably the only political party in this country with genuine grassroots support and huge support at that. You can understand the support if you read the party manifesto, not that the public at the grassroots level can read unfortunately but clearly they get something from the party other than trains. They get hospital, dispensaries, ambulances, disaster relief, and other such amenities through its social welfare branch.
Comparing the MQM manifesto with those of other political parties in the country is an interesting exercise. The MQM’s manifesto is to the point and reads well. Without going into detail it is enough to say that it is difficult to find more guff in one place than in the PML (N) party manifesto which mixes a self-laudatory list of achievements with meaningless waffle, for example: ‘Many reforms have been made in the health system for making it poor friendly.’ Poor-friendly? What in the name of supremely toplofty does that mean?
If you agree with the premise that before any serious reform can take place in this country feudalism must be brought to an end then the only political party that deals with that extremely important issue in its manifesto, and can deal with it given from where it draws its support is the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), and to an extent the ANP.  The PML (N), the PTI, and the PPP can hardly address the matter seeing that their major players are defined by the feudal system, and their manifestos reflect this handicap by neglecting even to mention the institution.
Article 11 of MQM’s manifesto entitled ‘Feudal System’ states: ‘It is the MQM’s view that without abolishing the feudal system, Pakistan cannot progress. The country would go from bad to worse economically due to the antiquated and tyrannical feudal system. That is why MQM wants to see the end of the feudal system in Pakistan.’ It goes on to say that: ‘Twice in the past, attempts were made to enforce agricultural reforms but because of the grip of the feudal oligarchy those reforms could not be carried out. It is, therefore, essential that the ceiling for landholding be established and effective land reforms be implemented.’
The references to the feudal landowning system carry on in Article 12 which deals with agriculture.
It’s a pity that the MQM itself, although it lives up to its rejection of religious discrimination and religion based extremism, in itself a big thing these days, has been unable to stay clear of other forms of militancy and outright hooliganism. And that is what is defining politics in its home city these days. In spite of current events such as the attacks on media houses, and in spite of the MQM’s increasingly psychologically challenged (ex) leadership in England, the MQM as a political party has enough going for it that any unreasonable targeting of the party (or of any other party) should be viewed as bad politics. It has a well-organized and disciplined party structure, and best of all it is as mentioned above without any religious aspirations in politics.  Following the now notorious speech, its party leaders refrained from making personal comments and the smoothness with which changes were made is remarkable. It would be an idea to clamp down on the MQM’s militant activities only while allowing the political party to function, if the two can be viewed separately, or rather if the two can allow themselves to be separated.

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