The MQM needs to consider the political wisdom of playing politics while their city is in turmoil. The MQM must also consider why it has consider why it has placed itself in the position of the boy who cried wolf, and how much credibility the PPP will place in any further resignations, as it believe that a phonecall from the President will win over Altaf, and thus the party. It is also not known what will be the fate of the commissionerate system, which the MQM had opposed both while in government, when it prevented it, and out of government, when it protested its re-introduction.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has once again, sort of, mended its
ties with the PPP government. MQM chief Altaf Hussain instructed
Ishratul Ebad to resume his duties as governor Sindh and “to work in
harmony with the federal and provincial governments under the guidance
of President Zardari”. The president has welcomed Altaf Hussain’s
statement and termed it “a good omen for harmony and reconciliation not
only in the province but also throughout the country”. Ishratul Ebad had
submitted his resignation along with MQM’s ministers at the Centre and
in Sindh following a falling out with the government. The departure had
come about because of a government decision to defer elections on three
seats of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Legislative Assembly.
Interestingly, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah announced the PPP’s
decision to withdraw its candidates from two of those very seats: LA-30
and LA-36. Obviously the PPP has done this to make way for the MQM’s
candidates. It seems that the MQM’s blackmail has worked once again. It
will probably only be a matter of time now before the MQM returns to the
treasury benches even though for the time being they have announced
they will remain in the opposition.
What do all these ‘moves’
say about our political system, particularly in Sindh? That the MQM has
always used its political clout and violence to blackmail successive
governments is no secret. But to see the PPP falling over backwards to
woo the MQM back every time comes as a surprise. Why did the PPP embark
on a mission if the eventual idea was to retreat? There was no reason
for the PPP to annoy the MQM by deferring the AJK polls in three
constituencies. The PPP obviously knew if the MQM left its coalition,
there would be more bloodshed in Karachi. After the MQM’s resignations,
the PPP introduced the commissionerate system, which was a controversial
step. Instead of improving the local bodies system, the Sindh
government went back to a colonial administrative arrangement. This was
intended purely as a manoeuvre to weaken MQM’s hold on urban Sindh, and
envisaged a redemarcation of constituencies in Karachi and Hyderabad to
reverse the gerrymandering that advantaged the MQM under General
Musharraf. What it ended up achieving is the exact opposite. The MQM
came out in full force. More than 100 lives were lost in just four days.
In an already dwindling economy, billions of rupees were lost because
of the tense situation in Karachi. Whatever the idea behind this ‘one
step forward, two steps back’ gambit was, the PPP came out looking worse
than ever before in Sindh. The MQM’s ‘quit, rejoin, quit, rejoin’
policy is well known, but the measures taken by the PPP following the
MQM’s resignations were, by now it is obvious, lacking the requisite
political will. And now that the MQM is back, and the redemarcation
proposal too is reportedly being abandoned, the retreat will annoy the
PPP’s own Sindhi constituency. The PPP has let its own supporters down
by giving in to the MQM’s pressure.
Bloodshed in Karachi and
other urban centres of Sindh might be reduced to a certain extent after
Governor Sindh Ishratul Ebad’s return and the PPP’s remedial measures,
but the future of Karachi and Sindh continues to hang in the balance.
Let’s hope that the government is able to bring peace back to the
province. That at least would provide some post-facto justification to
the ignominious retreat of the PPP.