Dirty Laundry

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Everybody’s got dirty laundry they don’t want other people to see. The trick is figuring out how to deal with it and make peace with it, regardless of stains accept it as a part of who you were and move on. Quite relevant if applied to the equation of Karachi, where a lot of people hid a lot of their dirty laundry and tried to prove others guilty. Karachi and people of Karachi have weathered numerous storms but none as sadistic and devastating as Altaf Hussain. Altaf Hussain is damned, gone for all money, not just physically but also as a political mindset and so is each and every one who believes in his total hysteric, violent vision. Seems like he is not more than just a loudspeaker now, even his international handlers seem to agree. Defections and denouements from MQM are underway as we speak. What shape post Altaf/MQM Karachi will adopt should now be the actual matter of concern. Debunking the past would give some insight to the factors which gave way to such vicious, venomous outbreaks of total madness which wreaked so much havoc for more than 3 decades across the single largest revenue generating city of the country, literally paralyzing the economy at times, how much of this was on MQM’s credit and how much it got landed from different sources, foreign and domestic, needs to be evaluated and it might open a Pandora’s box and take people to the places where most of them don’t want to go.

From International player’s perspective (read India), attempts to achieve a systematic trodden of financial capital of Pakistan is understandable from more than one perspective. As part of being country’s major functional port Karachi also generates more than 60% of country’s revenue in the form of direct taxes, federal excise taxes, domestic sales taxes and customs duty on imports, paralyzing Karachi will serve all the good in heavens to the country’s foes, but the fact that few “friends” which have joined hands with foes is more treacherous. “Friends” have their political goals which require a divided Karachi for their sake, divided in the name of political parties, ethnicity, creating a wackamole of an intense deception, attracting common masses to the bait placed in by the local political brass of almost every party, putting question of survival and virtually isolating every single individual to his tribal roots if it’s not mentally then certainly physically, again no surprises, no wild guess this time, main culprit is MQM.

As a whole MQM has always functioned like any fanatic, fascist political organization from the past which had established their ideology less on logic and more on violence and cult following. Pages of antiquity are filled with enormous examples having the exact same origin, from Hasan Bin Sabah to Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini they all had what MQM has today, an overly repeated-exaggerated-tragic back story, personnel mishaps and a bunch of blind cliques who somehow are tricked into feel the same way.

Question a few people, particularly ones who don’t know the details of the dynamics of Karachi’s political spin. Tend to ask in order to simplify their confusion like, why MQM is able to secure so much vote bank despite all logic and rationale points to one inescapable fact of them being a killing elite? Answer lies in the clear creek of history, which though quite deep but is crystal clear for those who want to look and to that we need to revisit history in chronological order to track the sequence, identify the chain and earn an understanding.

Creation of Pakistan marked the start of an internal power struggle between the only two inherited established institutions of that time, the civil bureaucracy controlled by Muhajirs and the armed forces predominantly represented by Punjab. Muhajir minority elite enjoyed the unprecedented access to power during early days of the newly created country and was trying to run the majority as they had learned from their colonial masters in the Indian civil service, they were the hands running Pakistan, in civil bureaucracy, as noticeable political figures and were widely considered as the people who were the bearer of the one ring of power. When feud between civil bureaucracy and military establishment trickled down on the streets after Martial law of 1958 things started to go south for Muhajirs, debts of Muhajir bureaucracy elite was about to be paid by the common majority of Muhajirs, those who had nothing to do with this power struggle were the ones who had to pay the most. Too occupied with the hardships of settling in a new place, people who were still collecting straws to build their homes again had no idea what was about to hit them. It was the start of a never ending cycle of reprisals, every new one malicious than its predecessor.

So in the given background answer to earlier asked question is becoming simple, the reason behind such immense popularity of MQM gained since the beginning of its genesis was due to insecurities creeping up in Urdu speaking majority. It was mainly due to extravagant acts of sidelining them from mainstream as means of reprisals and with the notion of keeping the control, in semi-tribal society like ours where ethnic identification is still the prime moving factor of masses Muhajirs were wandering to find theirs and in doing so they went through some nasty phases.

It is correct that people of Karachi faced severe socio-economic complications in early days especially after the shift of power structure from Karachi to Islamabad. Muhajirs felt deprived of their political rights as the country was being run from Rawalpindi and Muhajirs had no voice in military establishment, they tried to counter it by standing behind MS Fatima Jinnah in her presidential bid against Ayub Khan but how it panned out is history. Karachi and Dahka casted votes against Ayub Khan and paid reprisals. Karachi was punished by the victory parade of Gohar Ayub, gruesome series of planned attacks on Urdu speaking localities were carried out by people participating in the victory parade, majority of which were rickshaw and truck drivers hailing from NWFP, stamping the impression of ethnic cleaning. Moreover, they received considerable support from local law enforcements and, in an eye of a deceased, situation was pre-partition all over again where apparently state was taking sides against its own people, they felt the urge for a guarding hand. Perhaps this was the time when the seed of MQM was planted, ironically by the state itself.

Another page of the history which subsidized the jump start of a thought process, a concept of having an all-out Muhajir armed militia is the fall of Dhaka. The civil war fought between pro and anti-Pakistani factions in East Pakistan. On the ground it was between the majority of Bengalis and Biharis, who also happened to be Urdu speaking as well. The massacre which took place there was parallel to the death marches of Jews during the Second World War, the overall outset of it in which the way they were abandoned by us to be mutilated by the hands of thugs of Awami league was devastating. Then the behavior of Sindhi nationalists on arrival of Biharis in Karachi generated a brand of the same insecurity in Karachi’s Urdu speaking masses. Marginalization of Urdu and ethnic riots under Mumtaz Bhutto’s supervision was merely icing on the cake, wonder how all of this just got summed up in a paragraph when the impact it generated still darkening the page of Pakistan’s national history.

All of these factors contributed to the emergence of an emotionally unbalanced reaction in the form of MQM. In this context association or voting for MQM was not a matter of choice for the people of Karachi as there was no other option for them to get their political complains registered, back in the days there was evident disgust and impression of acute disgruntle from the then majority of ruling and political elite towards Urdu speaking community and one cannot deny that. First and second generation of Muhajirs faced social discrimination which was piling inside and ultimately resulted in a violent abomination in the form of MQM. Answer to the question that why still people support MQM lies in this back-drop which generates sense of insecurity, insecurity built in the masses of Karachi because of ethnic armed invasions of Muhajir localities where law enforcement agencies sided with the invaders Justification of having a protective hand in such a situation in the form of an armed militia of their own. It overpowered every other argument of rationale and gave way to an unending feud of scores to be settled, revenge to be taken, a posture to be posed. Collection of these sentiments rebased on the same feeling of insecurity, a feeling of being manipulated smartly by MQM over the course of the last 30 years by keeping the same state of confrontation between Mahajir and the rest of ethnic groups. Generally most people are either entirely unaware of those days or have shut their eyes on the relevant facts. One way or the other, the story we are most likely to hear is from the middle.

And now here we are, people need to keep these facts in mind while considering the situation, MQM is the dark side of a dark chapter of Pakistan’s history written during a dark phase with even darker circumstances. So consequences are understandably obscure, labeling or blaming Muhajirs as an obnoxious group of people due to their misdeeds and atrocities committed by MQM and Altaf Hussain is setting a dangerous precedent. Muhajirs are as patriots as any other ethnic group of Pakistan and need not be considered as traitors. What needs to be done is to establish a country wide political environment where the state doesn’t take sides, evasions of emotional statements and actions and let the healing process begin. it’s kind of a cliché but it is quite relevant to say that Pakistan is going through a transition period where we can define our destiny by standing united and to achieve that first we have to learn to stand together, accept our mistakes, learn from them and try not to repeat them as everybody’s got dirty laundry they don’t want other people to see. The trick is figuring out how to deal with it. Make peace with it, accept it as part of who you were and move on.

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Ahsan Malik is an IT professional with a passionate & candid version of his own on national and international issues relating to Pakistan, he tweets @MohdAhsanMalik and can be reached at m.ahson.malik@gmail.com

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