IRONIC as it appears, the PML-N’s victory on May 11 has opened up new opportunities for the MQM. The PPP was all but routed, but the MQM managed to hold its ground — something the PML-N found it had no reason to bewail. With the Sharifs firmly in the saddle in Islamabad, the Muttahida can now bargain with the PML-N and put pressure on the PPP. This is perhaps the second irony, for the MQM, though never in a position to form a government on its own, had been part of the provincial coalition for five years, and there is no reason why it should not join hands once again with Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah to reflect a rural-urban balance in the provincial set-up. However, the MQM’s choices have not always been consistent. It has previously walked out of coalition governments with both the PML-N and PPP, and even when in government its tactics have often resembled those of an opposition party.
On Friday, Mamnoon Hussain and Ishaq Dar met Dr Ishratul Ibad and Senator Babar Ghauri at Governor House, and then visited the party headquarters at Nine Zero. The party announced its support for Mr Hussain’s candidacy for the presidency, and the PML-N reportedly offered it a federal slot or two. With the Sindh PPP wooing the party leadership, the Muttahida at the moment has the upper hand. Unfortunately, the larger picture is being ignored in this politicking. The problems that torment the teeming millions of urban Sindh do not appear to matter; the party should look beyond cadres’ welfare and having stakes in the law enforcement machinery. For this, a broader, more mature vision that gives precedence to the welfare of the people in its constituencies should inform the party’s political moves and tactics.