Intrigue surrounds Mustafa Kamal’s return

Published March 3, 2016
Syed Mustafa Kamal, former mayor of Karachi, gestures during a news conference in Karachi. -Reuters
Syed Mustafa Kamal, former mayor of Karachi, gestures during a news conference in Karachi. -Reuters

Individuals who claim to know Mustafa Kamal intimately, find the timing and the reasons described by him for his return extremely intriguing.

Generally considered as a good man, Mustafa Kamal left Karachi unannounced initially for the United States in 2013.

Kamal then shifted to Dubai, where he started working for Bahria Town and continues to work for the real estate concern till this day. The design and the construction of Jehangir Kothari Parade flyover and underpass are generally credited to him.

He is known to be close to party-strongman Anees Qaimkhani, who sat next to him in today’s press conference. Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad and former head of Karachi Tanzeemi Committee (KTC) Hammad Siddiqui have also maintained close contact with Mustafa Kamal and Anees Qaimkhani over the years.

While he ruthlessly attacked MQM supremo Altaf Hussain during his press conference, Mustafa did not attack or even mention many others including Babar Ghauri, whom he is known to despise.

He did not seem to have encouraged Hammad Siddiqui and other comrades of his to return, as there are known cases of violence registered against them. He however appealed to the establishment for their clemency, though chances of such a clemency may be remote if not impossible.

Mustafa Kamal has a long history with MQM. He started as a member of MQM’s parent organisation, now known as the student-wing All Pakistan Mohajir Students Organisation (APMSO).

During his more than 20 years of affiliation, he has always been in the forefront. Most of this period was very violent and difficult for the MQM.

As Nazim of Karachi he maintained a very neutral and non-parochial stance. He maintained an amiable relationship with Pervez Musharraf as well as Asif Zardari as president, but not a very easy relationship with Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad.

Political observers in the city find it very difficult to believe that Mustafa Kamal or Anees Qaimkhani had no role in the violence faced by MQM or it took him 20 years to see through the character of his party chief, Altaf Hussain, as he claims today.

Imran Farooq’s murder was not the first murder in MQM. While Anees Qaimkhani is known to be very cool headed, Kamal is generally considered hot-headed.

Still, both Anees Qaimkhani and Mustafa Kamal command considerable respect inside and outside of MQM.

Imran Farooq was considered to be head of MQM's militant wing. While Kamal and Qaimkhani may like to focus on Imran Farooq’s murder, they will be asked many questions about the brutal murders of Azeem Ahmad Tariq, Khalid Bin Walid or the violence that engulfed Karachi on May 12.

More so, people in Karachi will find it hard to believe that they could return without the support and assurances from the establishment.

If not played right, the whole episode may come to naught as Saulat Mirza’s press conference from his death cell.

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