MQM served Establishment interests since 1980s through
(1) sustained Karachi violence: bhatta, parchi, street crimes, gang wars, target killings,…
(2) creating political instability by becoming part of political engineering at the federal level
(3) creating conditions for flight of Karachi’s capital to upcountry,
(4) encouraging flight of intelligentia and brain drain from Karachi,
(5) making Karachites notorious for their violence n crimes. Throwing fame of Karachites as studious intellectuals in the dustbin of history through cheating mafias.
(6) Pushing Karachi behind Lahore by 20 years by destroying the infrastructure for trade, schools, markets,…
Establishment created and promoted AH as counter weight to MRD n JI in 1980s, created haqiqi in 1990s, gang wars of lyari in 2000s, breakup in 2010s by minus AH, created PSP, MQM-P, MQM-PIB, MQM-Bahadurabad….
Closing of MQM chapter in Pakistan’s politics
On 18 June, an antiterrorism court in Islamabad closed a final chapter in the history of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), a political party that once represented Mohajir nationalism, lorded over urban areas of Sindh province, including Pakistan’s economic heart Karachi, and was a force to reckon with in national politics.
The court sentenced three men to life in jail for the murder of MQM leader Imran Farooq in London in 2010. More significantly, the court held the MQM’s supreme leader Altaf Hussain responsible for it, having been ordered the fatal hit of the man who once was his trusted lieutenant and the party’s chief ideologue.
Imran Farooq, 50, was a founding member of the MQM along with Hussain in 1984. Both had been living in exile in London since the 1990s as criminal cases were registered against them in Karachi, which they claimed were politically motivated. For two years before his death, Farooq had been politically inactive as Hussain marginalised him as serious political differences cropped up between the two.
The MQM supreme leader, Altaf bhai (brother) to supporters, had run the party’s affairs as a capo, brooking no dissent either within the party or media, even as street power, intimidation and a militant operating style maintained the party’s electoral supremacy.
Mohajirs are the Urdu-speaking segment of Pakistan’s population, whose elders migrated from India during Partition in 1947. Their concentration is primarily located in urban part of Sindh. The MQM had been the flagbearer of Mohajir nationalism in Pakistan since the party’s founding in 1984 until 2016. The MQM supreme leader, Altaf bhai (brother) to supporters, had run the party’s affairs as a capo, brooking no dissent either within the party or media, even as street power, intimidation and a militant operating style maintained the party’s electoral supremacy. The party had the power to bring Pakistan’s main financial centre to a halt within minutes on flimsiest of pretexts.
From 1988 to 2013, elections in Sindh had underlined the MQM’s supremacy in Karachi, Sukkur and Hyderabad, its main urban centres. This ensured the party could weather its vacillating relationship with the military establishment which had, from 1992 to 1999, thrice launched full-fledged operations aimed at cleaning up the urban centres of Sindh, mainly Karachi, of violence and criminality, driving first Hussain and later Farooq to flee the country and live in exile in London. Hussain continued to run the party from London with an iron grip. However, those operations could not end a culture of impunity surrounding rampant political murders, kidnapping, extortion and gang warfare. Gun running aggravated by Pakistan’s involvement in the conflict within Afghanistan made the situation in Karachi murkier.
Yet, the party’s electoral numbers also helped it do good turns from 1988 to 2013 as governing allies the PML (N) and PPP, the nation’s leading parties, who overlooked the MQM’s history of strong-arm politics and made it part of ruling alliances with the military establishment’s grudging consent. During the autocratic rule of Gen. Pervez Musharraf (1999-2008), himself a Mohajir, the MQM made itself an ally of the military government and became one of its staunchest supporters, especially of the post-2001 war against jihadi terror that the regime selectively waged to please the United States. After democracy was re-established in 2008, the party became a ruling partner of the PPP. However, the MQM became in opposition both at national and provincial levels in 2013, when no national party needed MQM support to form a government in Islamabad or Karachi.
The party’s electoral numbers also helped it do good turns from 1988 to 2013 as governing allies the PML(N) and PPP, the nation’s leading parties, who overlooked the MQM’s history of strong-arm politics and made it part of ruling alliances with the military establishment’s grudging consent.
It is widely believed Farooq, who himself had a reputation for ruthlessness, was eliminated because Hussain perceived a potential challenger to his leadership. Media reports at the time had obliquely referred to his involvement in the murder, for which he was formally booked in 2015. Now, the court has confirmed that the act of abettors and executors was “preconceived with a design to intimidate and overawe the public in general and workers of MQM in particular so that in future no one can raise voice against Altaf Hussain, the leader of MQM.” In 1993, Azeem Ahmed Tariq, chairman of the MQM was another co-founder, was mysteriously murdered in Karachi, as he was suspected of becoming an alternative power centre after Hussain went into exile the previous year.
Farooq’s death brought to the open cracks in the MQM leadership and Hussain’s halo began to slip after he was formally booked in the murder case in 2015. However, the tide did not turn definitely against him until August 2016, when he delivered a doomed speech over phone to a crowd in Karachi that eventually undid — with a little prodding from the military establishment eager to cut the MQM to size — the movement he built since his student days in the 1970s as his personal fief.
All hell broke loose after 22 August 2016 when Hussain delivered the speech (in which he cursed Pakistan as the nightmare for Mohajirs and called it “cancer for the entire world” and “the epicentre of terrorism”). The speech was a bombshell in Pakistan’s politics, leading to the party’s implosion. Senior MQM leaders living in Pakistan such as Farooq Sattar disowned Hussain’s “anti-Pakistan” speech and the party later split into what are called the loyalist London and mainstream Pakistan factions, the latter a coalition member of the current Imran Khan-led government. Hussain is facing terrorism charges in Britain related to the August 2016 speech and was charged in October 2019.
Farooq’s death brought to the open cracks in the MQM leadership and Hussain’s halo began to slip after he was formally booked in the murder case in 2015.
The MQM grew out of the All Pakistan Mohajir Student Organisation (APMSO) founded by Hussain, a pharmacy student in the University of Karachi, in 1978. The issue of injustice meted out to the Urdu speaking students was exploited by APMSO. The issues that were raised by it were namely the quota-system, admissions and lack of employment opportunities.
After the first military operation in Karachi in 1992, the MQM was accused of conspiring with India to form a breakaway autonomous state to serve as a homeland for the Urdu-speaking Mohajir community. The alleged conspiracy is known as the Jinnahpur plot, which key army figures who led the operation later admitted as a fabricated case. But ever since the operation, the party became suspect in the eyes of the country’s all-powerful military establishment, which propped up a dissident group called MQM-Haqiqi that only heightened the vicious cycle of violence in Karachi without a meaningful impact on popular support. The MQM, which replaced Mohajir with ‘muttahida’ meaning united in its name in 1997 in a failed bid broaden appeal among other ethnicities, had often castigated that Two-Nation Theory, saying it satisfied nobody and it died in 1971 when the eastern wing of the country broke away to become Bangladesh.
No political party in Pakistan has had more ups and downs during the 11-year democratic interregnum (1988-99) following the end of Gen. Ziaul Haq’s military dictatorship than the MQM, thanks to its own militancy and distrust of the military establishment, which viewed the party as a violent enterprise and enemy agent. The irony is that Gen. Zia patronised the MQM as a counterweight to the Benazir Bhutto-led PPP in Sindh, which it did become in urban areas of the province. Hubris led to the party’s downfall. Hussain is now a spent force and his party that once dominated Sindh’s urban middle class finished, with a big void in it, Mohajir nationalism no longer a potent force it once was.
The All Pakistan Mohajir Students Organisation launches the party, Mohajir Qaumi Movement.
MQM formally enters politics, after winning local municipal elections in Karachi and Hyderabad.
The MQM swept the 1988 election in Sindh’s urban areas and entered into a cooperation agreement with PPP, enabling it to become part of the government.
Differences developed between the PPP and MQM after dozens were killed at an MQM congregration by Sindhi nationalists, and the alliance fell apart in the wake of ensuing violence. The MQM lent its support to Nawaz Sharif’s Islami Jamhoori Ittehad instead.
In the 1990 election, MQM again emerged as the third largest party forming an alliance and a coalition government with PML-N, the leading party at the time.
MQM chief Altaf Hussain leaves for London for medical treatment. He has not returned since then.
The army launches the infamous ‘Operation clean-up’, ostensibly to rid the city of terrorism. The operation targeted the MQM in particular. As a result, a breakaway faction known as the MQM-Haqiqi emerged. Meanwhile, party leaders went into hiding and party offices were shut down.
Elections are held once again. The MQM boycotts the national assembly polls, but sweeps provincial elections, and once again allies with the PPP in Sindh. Their participation was despite on-and-off action against the party all the way till 1996.
Benazir Bhutto’s government is dismissed on charges of the murders of MQM workers in fake encounters by the police. The MQM wins national and provincial assembly seats in the 1997 polls, and allies with PML-N again.
After much deliberation and delay, the Mohajir Qaumi Movement changes its official name to Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).
The murder of Hakim Sayeed, a famous Pakistani philanthropist leads to the imposition of Governor rule in Sindh. The MQM and PML-N’s alliance came to an end.
The then President Pervez Musharraf, who had overthrown Nawaz in a military coup, held elections. The MQM performed well, and became a coalition partner of its arch enemy, the military government.
MQM threatens to quit the coalition government, ostensibly over army operations in Balochistan. It later retracts the ultimatum.
MQM was accused by anti-Musharraf parties and sections of the media for instigating violence on the streets of Karachi when Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry arrived in the city to address a lawyers’ meeting.
In the 2008 election, the party again became part of the ruling coalition government at the centre and in Sindh — once again with the PPP.
The MQM’s office in London was raided in connection with Farooq’s murder.
MQM chief Altaf Hussain criticised the judiciary and said that judges of the Supreme Court should apologise for their remarks about delimitation of Karachi’s constituencies or face consequences.
The Supreme Court ordered the MQM chief to appear before it in person and explain why he should not be charged with contempt for “his contemptuous assertions against the judiciary”.
Hussain files an unconditional apology, which was accepted by the apex court.
The MQM announced that it had decided to quit the federal and provincial governments in protest against what it described as the ‘negative attitude’ of the PPP.
The Sindh People’s Local Government Act, 2012 is repealed. The act had been seen a major prize for the MQM for its oft-broken alliance at the centre and in Sindh for providing for a separate local government system for its powerbase of Karachi.
MQM sweeps elections across most of Karachi and in parts of lower Sindh. Allegations of rigging in NA-250 bring MQM-PTI tensions to the forefront, with polls delayed there.
The London Metropolitan police launched an investigation against the MQM chief following complaints by hundreds of British and Pakistani citizens.
Following the death of PTI office bearer Zahra Shahid Hussain, the tensions between the two parties continued to flare up after PTI chief Imran Khan directly accused Altaf Hussain of her murder. MQM boycotted the polls in NA-250, and PTI won the constituency’s provincial and national seats.
MQM’s Karachi Organising Committee is disbanded, in an apparent reaction to ‘hooliganism’
The MQM’s Rabita (Communication) Committee was disbanded. The decision was made by the committee itself and was approved by Hussain, according to MQM. The decision followed the party chief’s proclamation to rid the party of ‘corrupt elements’.