Neither Sattar, nor Kamal – Why MQM needs to quickly figure out how to finance its politics
It is said that in public life perception is more important than reality. Many a times however, they both are the same, making it easy for the public to know what’s up! Mustafa Kamal and PSP are security establishment stooges, kind of like Q League of yesteryears, as simple as that! Farooq Sattar also is perceived as someone with baggage who folded at the behest of Rangers. Urban Sindh might not be all up in arms, but they must feel extremely insulted at this heist in broad daylight at the barrel of a gun.
So this presents sort of a conundrum for the citizenry of urban Sindh. So far they haven’t come out in any sizeable numbers to express discontent on complete mockery of their political mandate by the Punjabi security establishment. But who is to say that prolonged gerrymandering with political process at the hands of those who have failed time and again at this sort of thing, will not eventually bust the pressure cooker? The question for real Pakistan lovers: why support same stupidities and expect a different result?
The ban on Altaf Hussain and his party was never about him being a raw agent or his party being anymore criminal than say Rangers, PSP, Haqiqi, PPP, Muslim League N, ANP or even PTI now in KPK. This was always about the security establishment of Pakistan, which is predominantly Punjabi, having a problem with almost everyone who has a real mandate of people. This problem is compounded if the owner of the mandate is not Punjabi. They then go on these same trite gymnastics of propping up Q-Leagues, Haqiqis and PSPs – and it just doesn’t stick.
At what point would these ‘boyzes’ realize that they are failures at this sort of a thing and for the sake of future of Pakistan, they must give up. Politics and democracy must be allowed to grow and expand organically, of course under the umbrella of constitution. But it must not be coerced, either by force of military or politically motivated verdicts of courts.
Full disclosure: I have always been a supporter of MQM, but was never a huge fan of Bhai’s antics. My support for MQM is primarily because they usually prop up individuals who are at least clean and educated at the outset. They come through the ranks and live amongst their constituents. MQM was also always interested in social activism and municipal well being of cities and that was in direct contrast to their rivals PPP and Jamat-e-Islami.
Whether one likes it or not, urban Sindh is still captivated by Altaf Hussain! He still holds the popular mandate of the people, and the good news is that he would gladly work on the same salary as Kamal and Sattar. So what is the need then to politically alienate a city like Karachi, key to prosperity of Pakistan? Political scientists tell us that there are no permanent enemies or friends in foreign affairs. I am sure domestic politics is no different. So it’s high time that stubbornness makes way to common sense and pragmatism.
Altaf Hussain and his party must also prepare a dossier of sorts and present it to its electorate. They must come out and accept the fault for their shortcomings. They must spell out what is that they did wrong and would avoid if urban Sindh trust them with the mandate again. The mantra cannot just be ‘at least we are not PPP’ – although powerful, there has to be acknowledgment of failure and more importantly a detailed roadmap for future.
After the departure of Nadeem Nusrat, there is a huge void of strategic capital in London. Nadeem Ehsan has what it takes to run operations and develop SOPs (standard operating procedures), but Nusrat is the big-picture guy and has the mannerism and patience to steer this ship. Let’s hope for MQM’s sake, he returns soon. They have an able partner in Karachi in ProfZafar Arif and Momin.
Once back in the game, the MQM must also figure out quickly how to finance its politics. There are two popular venues from where others have usually financed their activities:
1) When in power make monies and or sell party posts, parliament seats to corrupt, rich and affluent. And then remain beholden to them at cost of public welfare. EgNoon League, PPP, ANP, PTI, etc.
2) Get monies from ‘farishtay’ and then do their bidding at the cost of public welfare. EgPSP, JI, MML, TLYR, APML, etc.
In the past, MQM cut out the middleman, and supposedly delved in crime itself to finance its politics. Although it gave them freedom to nominate candidates for Parliament based on merit, but this strategy obviously is just as wrong as the above two.
There has to be some out of the box thinking. Look at how interest groups and lobbyist run amok in American politics. Not ideal, but there are legal, more halal ways to do this. Pakistan’s economy and business interests are mature and big enough to pay for favorable legislation. All of this has to be calibrated in public’s interest. Things are not black and white(understood!)but they need to be closer to white than black!
I am sure the reader at this point is confused because I am apparently proposing corruption of another sort. If you don’t like this then some European countries have budget allocations for political parties. Besides, state provides monies to Army, and they do what they do. Why not finance political parties as well?