I live merely 212 miles away from one of the most loathed and feared Pakistani leaders. He may not be a resident in Pakistan but living all the way up in Britain, he still strikes fear in many a resident in his home town of Karachi. Altaf Hussain may just be the image of a grim reaper personified in flesh.
After the recent elections held on May 11, 2003, several thousands of supporters of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf rallied near Teen Talwar in Karachi. At the very moment these youths chanted slogans and raised voices against pre- and post-poll rigging in Karachi’s 10 constituencies, Altaf Hussain was addressing a gathering in another area of Karachi. Talking via a teleconference set up, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader angered over the actions of these handful of youth.
He even suggested letting loose his goons over the rallying youths if they don’t stop voicing their concerns. PTI youth have pointed out several incidents of poll rigging in the 2013 elections and have publicly named Altaf’s MQM to have intimidated polling officers into rigging the polls. Since the late 1990s, this was the first time that Altaf took on a nationalist stance and even went as far as suggesting the secession of Karachi from Pakistan.
However, this should not really come as a surprise to many that are well aware of the political scenario in Pakistan. Altaf manages to dig up this nationalist stance whenever Nawaz Sharif is in power – which he certainly is through a huge public mandate acquired through votes. In the late 90s, Nawaz sent over armed forces to scout Karachi. The armed forces wilfully targeted the MQM leaders and workers upon suspicion that they were involved in terrorism in the city. There might just be an ounce of truth to those past allegations but what those actions ended up doing was to solidify Altaf’s notorious character.
Just how he instils fear
MQM’s aggressive political stance held relevance at a time when the Urdu-speaking mohajirs fought to live alongside the Sindhi-speaking natives. Activists from both these political standpoints regularly clashed and it was only this aggressive stance that solidified MQM’s position in the politics of Sindh. The party later became the largest political force to be reckoned in Pakistan’s largest city of Karachi in southern Sindh.
Even though the party generally turned out to be one of the largest in the Sindhi province, it’s highly ferocious and aggressive stance and political campaigns instilled fears in the hearts of many a citizen of Sindh (and in particular, Karachi). People in Karachi, still today, think twice before challenging the notoriety of MQM.
Who dares challenge
On May 12, a handful of politically charged youth (not necessarily supporting PTI in the recent elections) organised a rally in Karachi at Teen Talwar through social media networks. Although the rally wasn’t officially supported by PTI itself, the party leaders soon joined in as well. This was perhaps the first time that non-aligned (yet politically charged) youth challenged MQM, out in the open. This was perhaps why Altaf Hussain couldn’t resist rebutting the youth’s claims that his party was involved in rigging the recent elections in a few constituencies in Karachi.
“If you abuse our mothers, we’ll abuse your sisters,” he said. “Don’t anger me or I’ll let my people [sic goons] go lose on you.”
Should these threats really matter to the youth that are out to voice their concerns. Isn’t it time that Altaf and his party MQM consider mellowing their attitudes and let a peaceful political climate take over in Karachi.
Altaf Hussain is irrelevant now
The politics that once was delimited to ethnic strife may just be coming to its end now. Karachi’s urban dwellers know better than to judge others by dogmatic racial norms or their ethnicity. Altaf Hussain’s recent bout about the secession of Karachi has led to much speculation in the news. Although he denies saying any such thing – he did say it, out loud and on all national television channels. Altaf Hussain propagated a message of hatred and violence on television. He invited terrorism in Karachi just by saying so. Believe me, if there’s anything wrong with Karachi today, it’s Altaf Hussain.
Hundreds of PTI supporters along with the British MP, George Galloway, submitted complaints to the Metropolitan Police in London following Altaf’s hate speech. Galloway went a step further by asking the government to deport Altaf, also for his known affiliations with around 100 murders – one on British soil as well.
So, my question here is: Should Altaf just give up his ambitions of running the country’s populous city via his remote controls from Karachi? The British High Commissioner has also taken notice of his hate speech and we may soon find out more.