Going too far?
No doubt MQM held its nerve right through the NA-246 trial, coming as it did on the heels of the infamous Rangers raid, political bashing the likes of which the party has not seen and, of course, a visible dip in the public acceptance graph. And these were by far the most disciplined elections Karachi has seen in quite a while; helped, needless to say, by the law enforcement machinery. So you can rule out the usual rigging charge, even though JI still found ample pre-poll fraud and PTI was not impressed by the way ECP conducted the by-poll.
Also, however wide PTI’s margin of loss, it did bring a considerable change to Azizabad, a constituency that has only seen ‘more of the same’ for at least a couple of decades. But that, if anything, is testament to MQM’s claims, that it has been busy doing more than – as sections of the press claim – extorting, torturing and killing. Since it is the party’s heartland, no place better than NA-246 to boast its progressive credentials which, unfortunately, have fallen by the side since its more notorious undertakings have come to light. Locals know how far MQM has benefitted the working middle class. And how many of them, unlike residents of other areas and followers of other parties, can make their way up the political ladder simply because MQM is not a feudal party and allows public participation.
But it is also typical of MQM to go too far. The speeches from the party chairman – just like the boasts in the Sindh assembly following the election – were expected, so no surprises there. But then they had to go one step too far and reiterate the demand for dividing Sindh. And that, of course, got the PPP running for cover. Now that puts a spanner in the works like the MQM, at least, would not appreciate. Barely had the Bilawal incident passed and PPP was warming up to it again that the Rangers raid came, which slowed things down. And when they had again started moving in the right direction, MQM itself impresses upon PPP the upside of keeping a distance from it. How that helps any party politically, especially MQM, is difficult to understand. Surely it is time to toss some of the more heroic assumptions out the window and finally indulge in politics of facts. The Karachi ‘operation’ is still undergoing and more parties are likely to be netted. The situation requires prudence. Hopefully the province’s two big parties will come round to this realisation sooner rather than later.