MQM, PPP grinding ethnic axe against batsmen

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  • Jarred by PTI’s rising popularity in Sindh’s urban areas, MQM, PPP revert to politics of ethnicity with MQM securing its Mohajir vote bank and PPP safeguarding its support in interior Sindh

Pakistan Today has learnt that the end of honeymoon period after a recent tiff between Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) is not attributable to an exchange of harsh statements between the leaders of both the parties but it is a tactical move by the two to safeguard their ethnic vote-bank in view of the challenge posed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan.

The leaders of PPP and MQM have revealed that in order to foil PTI’s attempt to lure the voters of urban and interior Sindh, both the parties are gradually resorting to their politics of ethnic lines.

Sources said that since both the ruling parties of Sindh have failed to serve their electorate during the past seven years of rule, the leadership of both the parties would soon be singing ethnic tunes – with PPP talking of the rights of rural Sindh while MQM raising slogans for ‘mohajirs’.

In this context, PPP would be relying on its strongmen Zulfiqar Mirza and Sharjeel Memon while MQM would be bringing forth Wasim Akhtar, Raza Haroon and others.

It was after around a decade that MQM headquarters Nine Zero echoed with the slogans of “Jiye Mohajir” when the MQM Rabita Committee coordinator Khalid Maqbool Siddiqi announced his party’s decision to quit the Sindh government.

An MQM leader said that the party had decided to part ways with PPP considering PTI’s increasing influence reflecting in PTI workers’ show of solidarity in a sit-in at Sea View and Mazar-e-Quaid in Karachi.

“MQM almost has almost lost its heartland of Karachi and Hyderabad and this ‘PTI virus’ may soon be affecting Mirpur Khas, Sukkur and other urban cities. On the other hand, PTI has won support in Lyari, the heart of PPP, while PTI is also eating away space in other Baloch-dominated rural areas of Karachi. So, it’s a must for us to sing a mohajir tune now,” he added.

By reviving the politics of ethnicity, the MQM feels it can not only attract back the mohajir youth to its fold but it can also consolidate its vote bank, he asserted. However, it will be a blow to party’s plans to expand itself to other provinces after transforming itself into Mutahidda Qaumi Movement from its original ethnic name of Mohajir Qaumi Movement.

PPP WEARING SINDHI ETHNIC FACE:

Moreover, PPP is all set to wear a Sindhi ethnic face for strengthening its vote bank in interior Sindh where the PTI chief is planning to challenge its authority by holding a rally on November 21 in Larkana – the home constituency of Bhutto family.

A PPP leader told this scribe that his party was comfortable with MQM’s decision, which he said was now “suffering badly” due to PTI’s rising popularity.

“We are quite comfortable with the MQM’s decision of parting ways with Sindh government. We think that it’s time for PPP to rise to the occasion and challenge the hegemony of MQM in Karachi and other urban centres of Sindh where PTI has already pushed them on ropes. Moreover, Karachi operation has blown away the thunder group of MQM which was a cause of fear for the politicians,” the PPP leader said, adding that the PPP leadership was of the view that if PTI could take a stand against MQM in Karachi, they could too.

“We know that by challenging MQM, the PTI chief has attracted thousands of voters who were fed up with the goons of MQM. We think that PPP has more chance of claiming votes in Karachi as compared to PTI as our leadership lives and governs here in Sindh. With MQM weakening, there is some visible space which PPP can take for sure,” he said, explaining that MQM had taken the bitter pill of quitting the Sindh government due to two reasons – the upcoming local body polls and a challenge from PTI.

The PPP leader was of the view that after suffering initial loss, MQM had reconciled with PTI and both parties wanted to now confront PPP.

“There has been a ‘muk-muka’ (deal) between PTI and MQM and they want to now jointly counter PPP. While MQM is aiming to recapture mohajir sentiments, PTI now wants to enter interior Sindh with the help of some influential Sindhi feudal who have time and again been beaten by the PPP,” he added.

PTI ON LARKANA GATHERING:

When a PTI leader involved in the Sindh visit was asked how big a public gathering Imran Khan could manage in Larkana, the PTI leader said that Shah Mahmood Qureshi and party’s Sindh chief Nadir Leghari was in contact with the PML-F chief Pir Pagaro and other local heavyweights, while Mumtaz Bhutto, Altaf Unnar and other local politicians were working to provide PTI a good crowd in Larkana.

“The PTI’s jalsa would be good as Shah Mahmood Qureshi is making hectic efforts for this event. He has assurances from some other local leaders while he himself has a significant support base in Sindh due to his spiritual base. However, any jalsa cannot dent the PPP’s ability to win elections,” he said, adding that by holding a huge rally in Larkana, the PTI wanted to create an impression that Sindh was awakening but this plan would be foiled.

RAEES SAYS PPP, MQM DOOMED IN SINDH:

Noted social expert Dr Rasool Bux Raees agrees that both the traditional political parties were trying to go back to their basic support base. However, he says that both would fail to capitalise as the younger generation was not ready to accept their hegemony anymore.

“Pakistan has changed a lot during the past 30-40 years. I don’t think that the leadership of PPP and MQM have been able to understand these changes. There is a big middle class emerging in Pakistan over the recent years and its ratio is second in entire South Asia,” he said, adding that the emergence of middle class in Pakistan was 15 percent higher than India.