THE MQM-P is currently experiencing an existential crisis, with two rival power centres — the Bahadurabad and PIB wings, respectively — competing for control of the party.
The situation is complex and nearly every day a new twist in the saga emerges, as Dr Farooq Sattar, who assumed control in the post-Altaf Hussain period and who is currently head of the PIB faction, tries to retain control over the whole party.
While the power struggle is an internal matter of the Muttahida, it is undoubtedly having an impact on Karachi’s political situation, as the MQM has been urban Sindh’s dominant political force for over three decades. Particularly, the crisis has begun to affect the metropolis’s local government: not only does the city’s mayor, Wasim Akhtar, belong to the MQM, but the Muttahida controls three of the city’s six district municipal corporations.
On Tuesday, Mayor Akhtar, who has sympathies with the Bahadurabad wing, called a meeting of city councillors belonging to MQM-P; as reported, only about half of the councillors showed up, indicating split loyalties within the City Council between the Bahadurabad and PIB factions. The mayor further asked councillors to quit their posts if they wanted to do politics.
Civic services in Karachi are already badly compromised due to the power struggle between the PPP-led Sindh government — which has assumed control of numerous municipal functions — and the MQM-controlled city government.
Now, with the Muttahida’s internal tensions boiling over, whatever little work the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation was carrying out may also be affected. For citizens, this may practically translate into more trash on the streets, overflowing gutters and dilapidated infrastructure.
Surely, this is not the fate the inhabitants of Pakistan’s largest city deserve. In an ideal world municipal powers should rest with the elected mayor. But with the mayor embroiled in a political tussle and the provincial government unwilling to pay any attention to Karachi, the unfortunate status quo will seemingly continue for the metropolis, adding to its citizens’ miseries.
Published in Dawn, February 15th, 2018