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IT was, in the end, the briefest of resignations, and very much in keeping with previous such episodes. But there was also something new about Altaf Hussain’s early morning speech and quick change of heart yesterday. For the first time, the MQM supremo acknowledged that the London police consider him a suspect in the Imran Farooq murder investigation. Mr Hussain also confirmed that British authorities recently raided his home in London and confiscated unspecified material. While railing against an international conspiracy against his person, Mr Hussain pledged to cooperate with British authorities — and defend himself in a trial, if he is eventually charged in relation to Mr Farooq’s murder in September 2010. This is a good sign: the MQM boss, while denying any involvement, has indicated his willingness to respect the judicial process. The protracted telephonic back-and-forth between Mr Hussain and MQM activists and supporters also had an important essence: the workers’ demand that Mr Hussain take back his resignation reflected just how much he is still the core of the party and how unforeseeable and unmanageable an exit by the MQM boss is.

Beyond that, however, there are many uncertainties and fears, particularly for Karachi. A basic reality needs to be kept in mind here: the investigation that has riled Mr Hussain and outraged the party is being conducted by British authorities and is a nearly three-year-old process. The thoroughness of that painstaking process is matched by its fairness: no one has yet been charged, not even Mr Hussain yet, many days after his home was extensively searched and evidence presumably gathered. So to decry that process as a witch-hunt or a political vendetta of some kind is to stoke an extreme partisanship that in the context of Karachi in particular can have potentially very dangerous repercussions. The emotionalism that was on display yesterday when the media was subjected to yet another verbal lashing by the MQM exemplifies the problem: little good ever comes when the heart starts trumping the head.

Difficult as it may be to maintain equanimity and poise in the face of an unprecedented test for the MQM leadership, there is the unhappy reality of Karachi — Hyderabad and other pockets of Sindh too — to consider. Violence, that can start on a mere rumour, has brought a once vibrant city to its knees, triggering uncomfortable reminders of the horrors of the late ’80s and early ’90s. Karachi needs a political hand and it is very much in the MQM leadership’s control to ensure that legal troubles for its chief in London do not spill over into unrest on the streets of Karachi.

Comments (7) Closed

K.K.Fakhta Jul 01, 2013 07:32pm

Nice well balanced editorial. My advice to Mr. Altaf Husain-

I do not know whether your are or are not involved in the murder of Imran Farooq, but my advice to you, if you are not, then you should cooperate fully with the authorities and try to clear your name. You owe this to your followers.

Pulling populist stunts like resigning or blaming national or international conspiracies may fly with the weakest amongst us but will be considered to be a mere ruse by others and used by your opponents.

Also get professional legal help to fight the case and do not throw tantrums in front of the judge as Afiya Siddique did in New York. You need to play by their rules and use the tools available to you as part of their system to fight the charges against you.

The British government has been quite hospitable to you and other MQM people when they were driven out of Pakistan after a military operation. They have recognized your importance and that of your party in the political landscape of Pakistan. These are points in your favor. Do not waste all this credit. I understand that this is a difficult time for you and your party but my final advice is DO NOT LOSE YOUR COOL!

Amir Jul 01, 2013 09:11pm

MQM is no PTI. Even through the most irresponsible statements, it is still respectfully reminded to play a responsible role towards the peace of Karachi failing which Pakistan will suffer. This is quite unlike the PTI chief, who despite never being violent has been subjected to uncountable satirical columns to the amusement of a certain section of DAWN's readers.

This is hilarious: every time someone steps on MQM's toes rightly or wrongly, MQM rises up with a shudder with its boss threatening to destroy the peace of Karachi, the very city that MQM claims to represent and guard the interests of.

Mr Hussain is in a tough position and has even threatened Britain for consequences, rather ludicrously. But perhaps that he said out of habit, knowing little that he has no leverage over the British Government, and even if he did, I doubt Scotland Yard will backtrack if it smells something rotten.

Mr Hussain's only hope is arm twisting Pak Govt so as to disallow British access to suspects related to Imran Farooq's murder, the suspects being in the custody of Pak Govt.

ailly Jul 01, 2013 10:58pm

Altaf, you begged for asylum in UK at your wish and will and now that country intend to carry out a murder investigation and you are calling it an " International conspiracy ".? Who are you ?. what are your achievements ?. what are your credentials ?. you are not a freedom fighter, neither an ex PM or MNA or MPA who was forced in exile. You were not dethroned either, that an international piracy be hatched against a novice like you to keep you away from power. You may be investigated in a murder case of your party leader and now you are washing hands out of it ?. Justice will prevail, whatever is the result don't worry.

Altaf, you have lost it completely, you fled Pakistan saying personal vendetta is being implied on you and your party workers. Now UK govt just hinted at investigating you and started going against your new lords. So, what next ?. where you intend to run away as of now ? If my guess is not wrong, proceeding to your Indian masters or your favorite destination may be Thailand, where you need some muscle relaxing massage, a place where you belong to.

MQM must chose another leader very fast, in order to keep their flag high else some party leaders may part-ways or some other options may be exercised. The best thing for MQM will be to abandon this senseless Altaf at his own in UK and party workers back in Pakistan may please proceed to announce their alternative leader to gain respect from other clans of the society, as well in order to make MQM a real national party else this party seems to be in the twilight of its existence. Blood, murder, revenge, extortion is not your destiny neither its for your people who may be pushed again in wilderness just to save a mentally retarded leader. Choice rests with remaining MQM leaders and its people who are living in Pakistan, not with some mad geek sitting pretty in UK.

kh adeel ahmed Jul 01, 2013 11:32pm

very well said it is the best time for MQM leadership to plz make sure the peace of our karachi

fida sayani Jul 02, 2013 04:35am

The Federal Government in advance should give very clear warning to Mr. Altaf Hussain and the Committee representing MQM that any problem created by the members of MQM in Karachi will be sternly checked and individual involved in any disturbance or strike in Karachi will be severely punished.

Me Jul 02, 2013 06:41am

well! who wrote this article?

Saif Jul 02, 2013 12:55pm

Our beloved city has been taken hostage by these people since long. May be Allah has decided to free it from their clutches. What goes around, comes around.