PPP-MQM lock horns over Karachi

Saeed Minhas

Islamabad: Has Karachi really changed hands for good or is it a myth which versatile politicians of Mutahida just keep singing in tune with their London-based leader? Answer to that is hard to find but one thing remain sure that like many things President Zardari is out to not only compete them in his own style and manner but is also making sure to bring something back from the hard clenched fists of MQM during the proposed elections of 2013.

As we have seen President Zardari mastering the art of giving blow after blow to the elder brother of Khadam-e-Punjab and making him publically (during press conferences) wonder on number of occasions that whether PPP is playing with him or is sincere to salvage him out of the muddy waters which he enjoys jumping into every now and then. Just to refresh memories that in past four years or since his return in 2008 from painful exiles of Royal palaces of Saudi Kingdom and lavish London flats, from contesting elections to long march, from pouncing on army to sending emissaries for mid-night calls on GHQ, and from budget bundles to passage of constitutional amendments (to name but the few), he out of sincerity (may or may not is your discretion) has always found himself on the wrong foot or wrong side of public sentiments.  

The case with MQM, however, is totally different and Zardari-factor has so skillfully been nullified by the foreign-based crafty leadership of Mutahida that Peoples Party is learnt to have re-engaged Zulfiqar Mirza for a new on-slaught on his (at least apparently) personal nemesis but not without a new-found friend from Bambino days to recent-past sugar-mill-cum-brewery partner. In the process, Nabil Gabol might stand a chance to play his assigned role in the newly chalked out Stop-MQM-from-politically- sweeping-Karachi operation.

But why is it so that all of a sudden Peoples Party has decided to change gears after having a love-hate relationship with the Quiad-e-Tehrik? After all whenever our beleaguered President or even former Prime Minister Gilani used to go for official rides to UK, they were seen posing for the cameras like a newly wedded couple. Comforting each other with broad chins and brimming faces to assure the rest of geeks like us that both are well-synchronized machines working for the people, with their money and for their money with a well defined boundaries in Karachi, Hyderabad and even Sukkur.

On further scratching the memory chips of google khan, one can even see our mobile interior minister Rehman Malik heading for North-London-based residences of Altaf Hussain to negotiate a way out of 18th amendment deadlock, post Dr. Imran Farooq murder situation, MQM’s clash with Nawaz League and so on and so forth on numerous occasions. Though Malik has many other businesses to attend while he visits any foreign land, but presenting bouquets of red flowers to Altaf Bhai with a press release of exchanging matters of mutual concern are still out there on numerous web pages and cyber circles.

After talking to few friends within Peoples Party and of course some Bhai jaans of Mutahida, it seems to be the desire of peoples party versus the need of MQM. People on both sides believe that Peoples Party wants to have an increased share of their MNAs from Karachi and even Hyderabad. Out of 20 seats of Karachi only three belong to Peoples Party while the rest are housed by MQM, and out of six seats of Hyderabad four belongs to PPPP while the rest to MQM (as per 2008 election results as notified by Election Commission of Pakistan).

So out of 26 seats of twin cities of Karachi and Hyderabad, Mutahida has 19 while the rest of seven belong to Peoples Party. The wish-list of President Zardari seems to have at least two more seats from Karachi and one more from Hyderabad to prove his claim to his bag-carriers that he is no less than a Bhutto  when it comes to gaining political grounds without creating much of ripples. Same goes true for Faryal Talpur because she too claimed in front of the party leaders from KPK that look how skillful I have been by winning the seat went vacant because of murder of Benazir Bhutto (NA 207, Larkana) whereas BB had to face at least couple of people from the same seat in almost every election.

Mutahida, on the other hand seems to have turned down this wish-list which has been presented along with bouquets so many times by every visiting dignitary from PPP (more so by Rehman Malik) by telling them that even a couple of seats from Punjab in the next elections will mean that they can dream of staging their own prime minister in Islamabad. After all from a mere six seats of Ziaul Haq party-less elections to 26 seats (including reserved seats) in the span of four elected governments and two martial laws is not a small feast in itself. But despite claiming it on all sorts of social media somehow their image and charcter always remain in doubt not only in public eye, amongst fellow and rival political parties and more so in the eyes of custodian of ideological fortress. Stigmatized with verbosity and mafia-style control of Karachi, no matter how much development they have brought to the haphazard city and economic hub of Pakistan, nothing seems to have helped them establish themselves as a formidable, vibrant and middle-class third largest political force of the country. 

Will there be gridlock between the two, remains to be seen but will there be any resolution out of this fix seems impossible because both have their eyes on their specific agendas and to achieve that end both have, of course with varying level of extremism, a potency which is likely to keep Karachi burning like hell in the forseeable future unless the custodians decides to have a repeat of an operation.