MQM and the league of Mustafa Kamal

Daily: Daily Times
Date: 16.03.16

As words are required to facilitate thought, leaders are required to facilitate politics.
Mustafa Kamal, an ex-mayor of Karachi, has presented himself to fill the gap of alternative
leadership in the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). In the league forged by Kamal (and
backed by Anees Kaimkhani), Karachi may find a respite from violence and salvation from
ignominy, as the rest of the country has become sceptic of the intentions of the MQM. The
trend in politicians to speak truth and confess to their imperfections publicly is healthy; the
same should be encouraged and appreciated, instead of guessing who is behind the
episode, and questioning the intent of the doers. For progress and viability, society needs
constructive trends such as these to meet the needs of evolution.

‘Worshiping’ a personality is a two-edged weapon. The strength of the personality cult is
that it keeps a leader cynosure of all members of the party; the weakness of the personality
cult is that the party crumbles with the demise of the cult (or the leader). The next point will
be what the legacy of the personality is: whether the legacy is to make the mohajir
(refugee) community stand for its rights or whether the legacy is to make the crime against
humanity (and the state) justified in the name of the rights of the mohajir community. The
MQM of today is vacillating between these two extreme schools. Kamal has tried to
disassociate himself from the latter school and align himself with the former one. The need
to do that has increased today because of the coincidence of two factors: first, the
operation conducted by the Rangers, which have busted gangs and apprehended
criminals, and secondly, the reportedly enervated physical and mental state of Altaf
Hussain, founder and leader of the MQM.

No one noticed the absence of Kamal from the political scene and party affairs since 2013.
Retrospectively, there must have been a disagreement between Kamal and the MQM, as
the party did not call upon Kamal to take part in the recently held local body elections and
aspire for becoming the Mayor of Karachi for the second time. Kamal could not find a
respectable job in Pakistan and had to leave for Dubai to earn his living. The MQM
considered Kamal’s marginalisation a preferred course of action. The disgruntlement (from
both sides) was noticeable. A kind of dissociation surfaced between Kamal and the MQM
for the past three years. Hence, the about-face made by Kamal on March 3 was not abrupt.

Raza Haroon, another former minister from the MQM platform, has joined the league of
Kamal on March 14. One angle to look at the phenomenon of joining this new party is that
dissenters are making a parallel club that would be labelled as a political party on March
23. However, the second angle is that the MQM is faced with implosion caused by the
weight of its mistakes, which may be the product of authoritarianism exercised by Hussain
over the years. Dr. Farooq Sattar, deputy convener of the MQM, is worried about the vote
bank of the MQM without realising the fact that the reputation — expressed in terms of the
credibility of its leaders and the veracity of their statements — of the MQM is at stake.

The league of Kamal has been trying to construct a ray of hope for those who got indulged
in the underworld of crime and, consequently, face the risk of being abandoned by the
MQM, as happened in the case of Saulat Mirza and the like. In the past, some MQM
workers might be interested in becoming Mirza but understandably they are no more ready
to ape his fate. Getting hanged must be painful and disrespectful, especially after being
abandoned by the MQM. The league of Kamal proposes that general clemency be offered
to the MQM workers who innocently became victims of the MQM leadership that resided
outside Pakistan and got funded by the prime intelligence agency of India. In this regard,
the Rangers are already offering a scheme of amnesty and expectedly a deal will be struck.
Generally, clemency holds the potential for offering a way out of the morass of lawlessness
in Karachi. Further, clemency is expected to mount the numerical strength of the league of
Kamal, though the league itself is credible owing to have the educated middle-class of the
Mohajir community. The league has also aired another message: fostering inter-community
(or communal) harmony. This is very important given Karachi’s multiethnic population. The
ethnic conflict has opened Karachi for the sectarian conflict, and under the umbrella of
these conflicts all kinds of crime has thrived. The awareness of the league about valuing
loyalty to the country is also praiseworthy. The league must be cognizant of the fact that the
whole of Pakistan is listening to it and is taking its words seriously. The time to make
amends should not be lost.

As per one opinion, the league of Kamal has surpassed all politicians (of whatever hue) by
sharing with the public the results of introspection meant for self-amelioration. Unlike other
politicians, the league did not stick to the habit of obstinate denial; instead, it submitted to
the call of conscience and aspired for beating the superior path to do politics. By so doing,
the league made politics a respectable profession in the eyes of the educated middle class
of Pakistan. The league showed how courage could be used in the advantage of a
politician to say ‘no’ to wrongs committed by even a well-established party. Further, the
league has set an example that may be followed by conscience-driven members of other
political parties, and this trend is fruitful for the evolution of political system in Pakistan.

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