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MQM defection

November 01, 2017


THE steady drip-drip of MQM-P leaders defecting to the PSP continues. On Sunday, Karachi’s Deputy Mayor Arshad Vohra announced his decision to quit the MQM faction headed by Dr Farooq Sattar and join the Mustafa Kamal-led PSP. He claimed that his former party had no vision and that it had failed to meet its promises to the people of the city. It appears the MQM-P leadership was apprehending this very development when it recently threatened en masse resignations of its legislators from the national and Sindh assemblies if more of its lawmakers switched sides. Mr Vohra was being treated as a suspect in the FIA investigation into the money-laundering case against MQM founder Altaf Hussain, and it was only two days after being summoned by the FIA for a grilling about his business transactions etc that he declared his allegiance to PSP.

The circumstances under which Mr Vohra has quit MQM-P clearly illustrate the machinations to influence Karachi’s political scenario, an ‘intervention’ that cannot but have an impact on a wider scale. With his defection in the immediate aftermath of the investigating authorities turning up the heat on him, can one dispute that joining the PSP offers the deputy mayor, at least in his perception, some measure of protection? A number of other MQM legislators have gone down this path since the PSP emerged as a full-fledged rival to the MQM — a party then still capable of ‘dealing’ with defectors in its own way. The establishment has long used compromised, or allegedly compromised, individuals to further its own agendas. The MQM itself is a good example of this political meddling. First, Gen Zia patronised the original MQM to counter the PPP’s ambitions in Karachi. When it overplayed its hand, MQM was cut down to size, and the Haqiqi faction engineered as a ‘check’ on it. And who can forget Saulat Mirza’s ‘confession’ from death row, containing sensational disclosures about the MQM leadership, that earned him a temporary reprieve? With the party’s factionalisation this time around, Altaf Hussain and his cohorts in London have found themselves excised in the bargain. Certainly, the MQM’s violent history is well known and those responsible should be held to account. However, the establishment’s manipulation of Karachi’s political landscape to ‘remodel’ the MQM to suit its present requirements will only exacerbate the ethnic divide in the city and alienate millions of those who live there.

Published in Dawn, November 1st, 2017