FINALLY some sanity appears to have prevailed in the fraught relations between the MQM and PTI in Karachi.
A day after some supporters of the two parties were involved in a clash in Azizabad’s Jinnah Ground, which was more a spontaneous fracas than a planned encounter, the Sindh governor Ishratul Ibad moved with alacrity to bring representatives from both sides to the negotiating table.
A code of conduct for the April 23 by-election in NA-246 was agreed upon during the meeting whose participants included Imran Ismail, PTI’s candidate for the constituency and Kanwar Naveed Jameel, MQM’s candidate for the same.
According to Dr Ibad’s statement following thereafter, the parties have agreed to desist from provocation and the use of derogatory language against each other.
The demonstration of such civility can only be welcomed, notwithstanding the ‘hidden hands’ — with their equally obscure agendas — that may be at work behind it. For it is crystal clear to anyone with any stake in maintaining peace in this city of 20 million that the circumstances demand a rational and mature response.
Events in recent weeks have thrown the situation in Karachi into a state of flux, and when the chips fall, they may not do so without considerable violence.
As a result, the coming by-election, that too in no less a constituency than the MQM bastion of Azizabad, has acquired far greater significance than it would have earlier.
As we have said before, the campaign for this poll will be a test case for both parties to rise above petty invective and slander, and demonstrate they have the political chops to address the myriad problems that plague this city.
They can take their cue from the manner in which the brawl in Jinnah Ground on Tuesday was swiftly handled through political efforts rather than being allowed to vitiate the atmosphere.
Every party has a right to campaign freely in Karachi and then approach the court of public opinion for its verdict, voluntarily given and unreservedly respected.
Published in Dawn, April 3rd, 2015