Thursday, May 17, 2007

Karachiites on Events in Karachi

A lot of the discussion around what happened in Karachi starting on the 12th of May has been centered on the role of the MQM. I thought readers might appreciate reading the following exchange between a few people who, though they spend most of their time living outside Karachi, strongly feel and identify with the city. [At least one of them has written in "Karachi" under "Ethnic Background" on the US Census form.]

First, a comment from a person on a mailing list:

A dictator supporting another dictator

Time and again events have proved that MQM is not a political party; it is a core group of criminals and a large body of naive people gathered around a cult figure. The simpletons believe the party is working for their rights. The core group of ruffians makes sure there is no internal dissent to the Pir who in turn dishes out favors to this group. The people at fault are the naive of Karachi who neither have any political maturity nor a desire to come out of this quagmire.

To which I thought two responses were very instructive. Please read both. I found Saquib Mausoof's comment below one that really resonated, at least for me:

But first, from Umair Muzaffar of Pleasanton, California:

Before I begin ... I want to first clarify that I am not a member of any political or any ethno political party or any military institution, I am just a simple Pakistani who was raised in Karachi.

And now a few observations:-

Somehow this whole issue has been turned into MQM, the viability of MQM, need for MQM, all the evils because of the MQM and shifted the debate from the dictator Musharraf getting rid of an allegedly corrupt Chief Justice and that Chief Justice going berserk in political activism while still trying push his case through the supreme judicial council and the Supreme Court.

The reality is that MQM has always been used by Pakistani establishment to quell fingers from pointing at itself.

We may raise all the faults that exist at the MQM organization and justify by providing very real facts ... but the reality still is that MQM is no different from any other powerhouse that calls itself a political party. The other two parties PPP and Muslim League also have the same leadership for almost as long as MQM. Any dissent towards leadership in these parties has also been crushed in similar fashion as done by MQM.

The problem with MQM is that it, on most parts, represents an ethnic minority ... that until recently has been sidelined by other ethnicities in every aspect of the national or local affairs. Thus everyone, including us on this group starts to point finger at the MQM and what it allegedly represents.

Sometimes veiled and sometimes unveiled non-acceptance of what MQM represents is a norm ... specially from the non-Karaciite journalist institutions. This non-acceptance is at times similar to the non-acceptance of the East Pakistan based popular institutions before the 1971 debacle.

We have to realize that MQM is supporting what it claims is an elected President and his reference in the Supreme Court and the process that the
government claims is constitutional.

All the lives lost, either by-standers caught in the fire fight, opposition workers/fighters, MQM workers/fighters, law enforcement personnel and all
the others who lost their lives - lost it because of the STUPIDITY of everyone including the MQM, the Government, the opposition parties and YES the Chief Justice --- who is not willing to rely on the Supreme Court that he until recently was heading. Blaming these deaths solely on the MQM is as narrow minded as blaming the entire Israeli - Palestinian issue on the Palestinians or on the Israelis or on the Americans.

There were fighters on both sides ... both sides were shooting ... both sides were dealt casualties ... both sides killed. Everyone saw the video

Can we be a little objective here?

And now Saquib Mausoof:

Yes, it is a dictator supporting another dictator, however, the fact that you consider MQM not a political party but a core group of criminals reminds me the rhetorics on War Agianst terrorism when Taliban were declared 'enemy combatants' since they don't wear uniforms, and send them Camp X-Ray?

I think it is very easy to fall prey to jingoism when one's own city is hurt. Anyone who has visited Karachi has seen what the Musharraf years have done for the city. the goverment has been MQM and it has been good for business.

True MQM has demonstarted repeatedly their appetite for destruction, but instead of letting this movement mature democraticaly (BJP in India is a good example, they took leadership on democracy and become somewhat mainstream) we have a tendency to call them criminals.

I think this is a mistake.

However, this could have been controlled if the Federal Goverment had not allowed MQM free reign in the city and used them to do their dirty work. For this MQM will pay dearly and they should.
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