karachi

051@Ninezero

 

It seems Pakistani establishment has successfully been able to wipe off the infamous “MQM factor” from Urban Sindh especially in Karachi.

Although the party’s future is still unclear yet currently MQM is engaged in toughest ever political battle on all fronts with establishment,  Federal and provincial Governments, rival political parties and media not for the survival of its rock solid vote bank but for its very existence.

Right after MQM’s Supremo Altaf Hussain’s controversial statement during hunger strike and violent protest on media outlet, one of the most senior Leaders of the party Farooq Sattar along with local Rabita Committee under severe pressure decided to rebrand the party and quickly came up with the solution of disassociating MQM Pakistan from Altaf Hussain until his health conditions get alright.

Although Altaf Hussain apologized for his Anti Pakistan remarks and excused for venting out his anger against the undeclared military operation on MQM continuing for more than 2 years that include arrests of elected mayor and political workers, disappearance of political workers, demolition of party offices, media ban, ban on collecting hides, Zakat and Fitra, continuing charity services as well as all sort of political activities including removal of posters and banners of the MQM founder.

So far things are not alright for MQM but after the announcement of revamp there is a fair chance that party will be given some space to fresh start its political activities from scratch but once it wins the power center’s trust by disowning criminals within their ranks.

MQM no doubt is 2nd largest political party of Sindh province that represents urbanized population, it should be allowed to continue its struggle peacefully.

Attempts to arm twisting of the party from different power circles might backfire and the MQM sympathizer instead of opting for ‘recently planted alternatives‘ would further inclined towards MQM.

During entire military operation MQM has shown remarkable resilience and never attempted to counter security forces at any level unlike Balochistan, and North West where there is a full-fledged war going on.

On the other hand MQM and its leaders should try to win confidence of the high ups and think what’s wrong have been made from their part and immediately address the most common criticisms which is only possible if both parties sincerely engage in sustainable dialog process.

Just like other political parties of Pakistan, the legitimate and elected representatives of Karachi  should also be allowed to rule their electoral territory and contribute their share in development of the nation.

Ps: 051 is RWP/ISB Phone code while Ninezero is known as MQM Headquarters in Karachi.

 

What Mustufa Kamal means to Karachi politics

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It seemed to be a real big day when all TV channels showed ex-mayor of Karachi Syed Mustufa Kamal’s unusual footages coming from Airport with the then deputy conveyor Anees Qaimkhani. As usual people who live in other parts of the country hoped that MQM cannot survive this dent and will suddenly collapse.

We in Karachi equally curious and logged on news channel websites to live stream the events concerning Kamal’s moves who rejoined politics as a separate entity after 3 year break,  during his Press conference he was supposed to reveal why he left MQM, why he came back to Karachi and what would be his next move. Although he spent about 3 hours maligning MQM with no clear future plans.

After few days Dr. Sagheer seen sitting in press conference with Kamal and Qaim Khani repeating the same grudges, so far no concrete development is seen in the newly formed group except inclusion of ex MQMers in new party, a part from membership drive we hear about same old MQM-RAW (Indian Spy Agency) relations, Altaf Hussain consumes alcohol, target killing and ransoms, Baldia factory fire etc.

Before Mustufa Kamal, it was Zulfiqar Mirza, Saulat Mirza, Nabeel Gabol, Afaq Ahmed, Rao Anwar and many other prominent personalities showed up on Tv channels after regular intervals and toed the same line.

So far there is a divided opinion on Mustufa Kamal among different political parties and majority of them believes he has no future at least in Urban Sindh politics.  Pakistan People’s Party, Jamat e Islami and PML N doubting intensions of ex-mayor and demanding proves of his allegations on MQM.

Contrary to general opinion Imran Khan and PTI’s top leadership see Mustufa Kamal as a ray of hope to counter MQM but Ali Zaidi in-charge PTI Karachi and other second tier leadership seems to be unhappy with PTI’s top leadership especially Jahangir Tareen’s statements and questioning their support since PTI would virtually wipe out from Karachi if Mustafa Kamal sets foot in politics and it will become PTI vs Mustafa Kamal Party.

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Many PTI followers praising Mustufa Kamal and wanting him to control Karachi, this unconditional love for ex-Mayor at some point is worrisome for PTI Karachi leadership which seems on different page altogether, and it is true to some extent since PTI top leadership is unaware of dynamics of this city and its politics and any irresponsible statements or rhetoric by Imran Khan or Jahangir Tareen might backfire and put Ali Zaidi & Co in deep trouble.

Time will decide if PTI’s top leadership is rightly playing its cards or should they pay heed to Ali Zaidi’s concerns.

So much so, at this point of time Mustufa Kamal is busy giving interviews to TV channels and trying to extract support from MQM but at the same time negating any possibility to join hands with PTI.

MQM being the victim of repeated attacks on its credibility and style of politics has decided to wait and see and refusing to discuss this episode on media perhaps following the strategy to focus issues related to their party and public interests.

MQM sees its supremo as a Kingmaker and believes without his support no party member can prosper or deliver.

Mustufa Kamal’s strength was his performance during the time of his mayor ship as a result when local bodies system wrapped up, the mayor had no work to do but was promoted as senator and given top rank in party by Altaf Hussain.

Why Mustufa Kamal came to Pakistan and maligned MQM is another question but what most of the Karachites think if the ex-mayor really wanted to deliver something to the people of Karachi after three years as a separate entity couldn’t he do a decent press conference highlighting his strengths and future plans rather than MQM’s weaknesses.

 

Delimitation without census pointless

Much has been said about delimitation of Karachi but the controversy seems to gaining pace.  Election commission is all set to conduct house to house voter’s verification and somehow preparing to review the delimitation of constituencies in Karachi as well. Though in his recent statement ECP chairman in his “personal opinion” supported MQM’s stance and said that once delimitation is conducted after the census, then delimiting those constituencies again without holding a new census is “pointless.”

It is pertinent to mention that on Nov 26, a five-member bench of the apex court had observed that constituencies in Karachi should be delimited in a manner that they comprise “mixed population” to avoid political polarization.

And later on Dec 20, The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) had virtually isolated itself from other political parties when it opposed the issue at a meeting in which Election Commission had convened in this regard. MQM as a result decided to convince Supreme court on legal grounds.

At this point of time the people of Karachi seems confused about Supreme courts decision of delimiting Karachi only as population census are held in different countries of the world before the redrawing of constituencies and then demarcation of constituencies is carried out. On what legal grounds delimitation would take place is still a question to be answered by the Law hawks.

Not to mention that the election commission’s decision to review constituencies of Karachi only and that too without census can open a Pandora box.

As ECP reports for the General Elections 2002 gives province wise break down of complaints. According to the report, total 97 complaints were filed from Balochistan, 238 from Sindh and 165 from Khyberpakhtunkhwa, these statistics roughly indicate that there was nothing extraordinary raised against the ‘delimitation’ of the province.

Also, Pashtuns living in Balochistan have long contended  that their number was not accurately recorded in 1998 population census as they had boycotted the census hence they are underrepresented. Likewise Karachi can also demand greater number of seats as a result of mass migration from up country during the recent years.

Karachites also ask whether Election commission would reduce seats from KP, Balochistan and Punjab and allocate those seats to the metropolis since most of the people moved to Karachi from these provinces in recent years.

When would Honorable Supreme Court enforce other parts of judgment where it said that land should be recovered occupied illegally is another question being pondered by the citizens of Karachi, as implementation of this particular judgment would bar illegal occupants living illegally in the outskirts of Karachi as well as on the mountains from manipulating the voting lists, using land illegally, stealing electricity and other resources being utilized without paying taxes.

Contrary to the current situation, just a few years ago the Election commission of Pakistan in its press release on May 23, 2007 had taken a very clear position against delimitation of constituencies in the absence of new population census.

This is the position which Election commission respectfully needs to communicate with the Honorable court as demands for delimitation could also be raised from other cities of Pakistan and it would be irrational to believe that except Karachi rest of the country’s constituencies were perfectly drawn.

In my opinion Karachi should not be given “priority” on any other city of Pakistan. Along with Karachi, delimitation of other cities should also be carried out as per “law” because without a fresh census, the act of delimitation, which in essence is meant to create equality in the constituencies, would be nothing but a futile exercise.

Lahore through the eyes of Karachite

After spending seven great days in Lahore, I am convinced that Lahore, being the cultural hub of the country, is one of the most beautiful cities of Pakistan. I applaud the chief minister of Punjab, who despite having a barrage of flaws in his governance, especially with regards to health, education and law and order sectors, has successfully been able to maintain the beauty of this city.

Unlike any other provincial government, the government of Punjab makes a conscious effort to give beautification the priority that it deserves by strictly adhering to a no-graffiti policy; hence we are greeted with beautiful and clean walls as seen in other civilised nations. This, however, is not true for Karachi, a city where there is more graffiti than there are walls.

The roads, despite being narrow, have managed to accommodate smooth traffic flow with strict traffic laws, all thanks to the Chaudhry brothers for setting a bench mark in the traffic management sector.

The difference between the two cities can be seen from the time of arrival at the respective airports.

In Karachi, when we get out of the airport premises, we are welcomed by huge billboards of Shahi Syed followed by the Sunni Tehreek, Pir Pagara and Sindhi nationalist leaders giving visitors a feel of the political environment in the city that overshadows beauty.

Lahore, on the other hand, has a more aesthetic appeal. The route back from the airport is covered with lush green and yellow mustard fields, shamelessly boasting the beauty and splendour they behold.

Although this is just one of the few good aspects of Lahore, one of the things that would be seen as most commendable by Karachiites, is the fact that a majority of homes in Lahore have low boundary walls around their houses, showing that they are very comfortable with their environment and do not feel threatened by any lack of security.

Karachiites, on the other hand, apart from installing top notch security systems in their houses, not only build high walls but further burglar proof it by setting up broken glass pieces or pointed iron on the rims of the walls to protect their homes from potential thieves.

Lahore is famous for its food street and the deliciousness it offers, evidencing the fondness with which the people of Lahore enjoy their food.

In this case, Karachiites are enthusiastic about food too, but they are more concerned about eating the ‘right kind’ of healthy food than consuming everything for the sake of eating, which is a trait I found amusing about the Lahoris.

Personally, I found Lahore to be too provincial, with a lot of focus on just the Punjabi language and a lot of Punjabi people; however, Karachi prides itself on giving a true cosmopolitan feel to the city. Karachiites speak in English, write in Urdu, think in Balochi and dream in Sindhi.

Perhaps, it would be appropriate to attribute the unity amongst Lahoris, to the fact that Punjabi is the only language, apart from English and Urdu, spoken in Lahore. Karachi, with its complex demographics allows everyone to do whatever they feel is right in the garb of “Karachi is for everyone”.

The people of Lahore love Mustafa Kamal, but hate the MQM although Karachi’s mainstream political party has managed to open offices in various cities of Punjab. They love MQM’s well-spoken work force, organisation and management. While some urban Punjabis do hold a soft corner for the MQM, the majority does not.

But the one trait in Lahoris that impressed me the most was their civic sense. You won’t see them spitting pan or gutka on the roads or elsewhere; you won’t see people littering; they are more conscious of their environment and make an effort to keep it clean and beautiful.

Another interesting thing I observed is that there were hardly any cab services running in Lahore. Initially, I thought that the fortunate city with the help of the chief minister of Punjab would be rich with yellow cabs but surprisingly enough, this was not the case. The chief minister, however, is passionate to resolve the transportation issues for Lahories by initiating various CNG bus programs etc, ignoring the fact that the city bears at least three days off for CNG.

Funnily enough, the curiosity between the lifestyle of Karachiites and Lahoris is very evident, especially  when Karachiites are shown around the city, the Lahoris boast their sky scrapers and shopping malls, all the while, subtly asking whether such things exist in Karachi or not. The cross province communication gap should be something that both cities work toward overcoming in the future.

In short, Karachi is a huge city trying to accommodate multiple cultures; it is fast-paced, pulsating and dynamic. But Lahore, including recent developments in the city’s infrastructure, prides itself on having safeguarded Pakistan’s rich culture and traditions, which may be lost to Karachiites but are reason enough for Lahore to be spoken about and visited.

 

Let’s play: 20 questions for Zulfiqar Mirza

Sindh’s former home minister Zulfiqar Mirza has announced his resignation from the government in yet another media circus.

During TV interviews he made personal attacks against journalists and politicians, making references to their facial features and appearance. However, his emotional outburst left lots of questions on the policy of the government unanswered.

A few questions I would like to ask Mr Mirza are:

1) If you claim to be so truthful, why have you never made these revelations before?

2) According to you, Rehman Malik does everything on the discretion of President Asif Ali Zardari. Why then is Rehman Malik accused of conspiring against the People’s Party and not President Zardari?

3) Is the president of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari a fool to not understand the shrewdness of Rehman Malik?

4) Mirza Sahab, why did you never raise your voice in 2001 (or afterwards) when you got to know that MQM chief Altaf Hussain wrote a letter against the ISI?

5) What exactly made you speak up after the discovery of the torture cells and ammunition from Lyari?

6) You acknowledge that Rehman Malik is a “good politician and a good human being” but maintain that he is also a compulsive liar. What does this mean?

7) You placed the Holy Quran on your head and said that MQM has a false mandate in Karachi and Hyderabad. How many petitions have you filed in court about this?

8.) Why are superior courts, Pakistani forces and Pakistani law enforcement agencies not taking any action on the MQM’s alleged crimes? Is the MQM really that powerful?

9) CPLC recovered most of the kidnapped people from Lyari. Is this the reason why the CPLC chief, Ahmed Chinoy, has suddenly turned into a villain?

10) You seem to be very worried about the people of Sindh. Why are you obsessed with Karachi only? Has karo-kari, dacoity and corruption ended in interior Sindh?

11) How come you know “ALL” the killers except Benazir’s ?

12) You say that you will fight against the criminal elements of Karachi in your private capacity. Is this legal?

13) Keeping in mind that a civilian cannot take the law into his own hands, how would you decide who is a criminal and who is not?

14) You claim that you haven’t recruited any MQM worker in the Sindh Police, and that recruitment in the police department was done on merit only. If this is so, then why does corruption and incompetency still prevail in the Sindh Police?

15) Why are the ISI chief and Army Generals not taking action on your “substantiated evidence”?

16) When are you going to the Supreme Court to submit this evidence?

17)  How exactly have President Asif Zardari and the late Benazir Bhutto helped you in acquiring such a huge amount of money, villas, cars, sugar mills and thousands of acres of lands?

18) You alleged that during a meeting in London, the MQM chief Altaf Hussain had told you that America and other world powers had decided to ‘break’ Pakistan, and that Altaf Hussain had supported their idea. Since when has Altaf Hussain started sharing such secrets with you?

19) If America wants to break Pakistan up, according to you, then why did you go to the enemy country for a 40-day vacation?

20)  Sir, do you still stand by your slogan “Pakistan na Khappay” (We don’t want Pakistan)?