I ran a pretty successful pro-Quaid-e-Tehreek Pir Altaf Hussain Bhai campaign, which is slightly different from pro-MQM campaign as in former we talk about Quaid-e-Tehreek Pir Altaf Hussain Bhai’s sacrifices whereas latter is about achievements of MQM. The pro-Altaf Bhai campaign is an Altafist campaign with slogans such as
ہمیں منزل نہیں رہنما چاہیے
جو قاید کا غدار ہے، وہ موت کا حقدار ہے
ِIn short, pro-Altaf Bhai campaign sees MQM as manifestation of Altaf Bhai i.e., Altaf Bhai is MQM and without Altaf Bhai, no MQM.
Anyway, running this campaign has endeared me to a lot of MQM guys. They have told me that PTI emerging as second largest party in Karachi has really shocked MQM.
The number of votes polled are summarized in table below. Click on the table to enlarge it.
This has really challenged the narrative of MQM that they are the only representatives of people of Karachi as PTI is emerging as a strong contender. In Karachi, no one challenges MQM at least in MQM stronghold areas. Even if people support other parties, they usually keep it to themselves. The change came with PTI. People were fired up in their demand for change, boisterous in announcing their support of PTI and were convinced of PTI sweeping over not only Karachi but also whole Pakistan that they stopped fearing MQM. Earlier people would have been careful announcing that they will vote for any other party than MQM in MQM strong hold areas. However, with their PTI flags and stickers on their cars, they were not anymore.
On the other side, MQM which controls and monitors electronic media in Karachi but did not and could not monitor or control social media, rightly assumed that they will have a comfortable win in all areas of Karachi. However, mistakenly they also assumed that they can cow down PTI supporters with their intimidating tactics.
This happened with my cousin in North Nazimabad. His friend on the street for last 20 years asked him which party will me cousin vote for in the elections. My cousin replied that PTI. The tone of his friend suddenly changed and in all seriousness he said to my cousin, “If you vote for any party other than MQM, be ready to bear the consequences”. These are not empty threats. Consequences in MQM parlance means a bullet. My cousin still voted for PTI but to his friends he says that he voted for MQM.
Day after the elections when results started coming in, PTI got large number of votes in Federal B Area which also includes MQM’s HQ Nine Zero. For each National Assembly (NA) seat and Provincial Assembly (PA) seat there are multiple polling stations allowing people from a particular neighborhood block to vote there. If there was just one polling station for one seat, on some seats there were more than 250,000 votes polled during the day, you can assume how much chaos would have been at that polling station. So having multiple polling stations diversifies the crowd. If the PTI voters are diversified in a locality, the votes to PTI will be diversified across all polling stations for a particular seat and it will be hard to target a particular area. However, if a certain polling station receives unusually large number of PTI votes, one can safely assume that people in surrounding areas are collectively PTI supporters.
This is what happened at Aisha Manzil. Aisha Manzil and nearby Karim Abad has a few Agha Khani colonies i.e., gated communities of apartment buildings comprising of middle and lower middle income Aga Khanis. They were allocated a polling station. When the polling results from their polling stations came out, it was obvious that Aga Khanis voted overwhelmingly for PTI with MQM receiving negligible votes. This angered MQM. So on the night of May 12, MQM goons raided these colonies, separated all the voting age male members and have them beaten as a lesson. It didn’t matter that MQM had won from this constituency. They had challenged the MQM’s narrative of only representative and this was to ensure that when next time elections are held, this will be lesson they remember, and vote for MQM. Obviously, this was not reported in media as stated above MQM controls media in Karachi. However, if you have friends amongst Aga Khanis in Federal B Area, they will confirm that this actually happened.
Similarly Orangi Town is where majority of Biharis who migrated after secession of East Pakistan as Bangladesh in 1971 came to live. Its a lower middle income area and MQM has been the only party in Pakistan who has been talking about Biharis, their rights and repatriations of Biharis remaining in Bangladesh to Pakistan. As such, Biharis are the most ardent supporters of MQM. However, after seeing only rhetoric yet no efforts by MQM for the promises that were made, a lot of Biharis decided to vote for change i.e. PTI. For the reason that PTI supporters this time have been very obvious, it was very clear in that area that certain families voted wholeheartedly for MQM. They have been asked by MQM to clear the area within one week or to face the consequences. How will they manage it, nobody knows and nobody wants to even “appear” to care.
Its normal for workers as well as politicians to become disillusioned with their parties. They may change political alliances on principle or they may change political alliances for money, power etc. However, if you have joined MQM, unless they throw you out, there is no way that you can leave them. To use cliched Hotel California line,
you can check in any time of night
but you can never leave
People leaving at worker level are usually killed or have to leave the city or country to save their lives. MQM tries to portray itself as an ideological party. If workers leave, it shows that there is something wrong in their ideology. As such, you will hardly find anyone saying that they are ex-workers of MQM.
The euphoria of change ie PTI had energized the whole nation. It also affected new young members of MQM who had recently joined MQM. Some of them moved over to PTI or started supporting it.
PTI started dharnas (or dharnis as they were very small in size) after election rigging starting with Teen Talwar and subsequently holding dharnas in other localities outside Karachi in various strong holds of MQM. One such dharna was held on Five Star Chowrangi in Karachi. It came close to turning violent as MQM also tried to stage a dharna at the same place in an effort to threaten the PTI supporters to disperse but the latter stood their ground.
Day 7 of dharnas: Stare down between PTI, MQM supporters: Express Tribune
Anyway, a friend of mine who works in MQM sector office of the area told me that MQM workers went over to PTI dharna as spectators or even participants and took pictures of PTI dharna participants on their mobile phones and have the pictures submitted in the MQM Sector Office. How will Sector Office use these picture or if they will use these pictures is anybody’s guess.
If you are in Karachi, it behooves you to not get carried away in euphoria. When I found out about above developments, I posted the following on my facebook page as a friendly warning to family members and friends as they weren’t taking any precautions criticizing MQM or Altaf Hussain on facebook as well as publicly.
FRIENDS AND FAMILY IN KARACHI
As you are aware, I have been running a pro Quaid e Tehreek campaign on social media. As such I have come close to few people in MQM.
All is not well at 90. Quaid e Tehreek has ordered Karkuns to “muththi khol dein”. This comes from a very reliable source. Agar Rabita Committee pit sakti hai, to aap log kis khait ki mooli hain.
Please don’t get carried away in Tabdeeli euphoria. Keep a low profile on social media but most importantly in your gali, mohalla, university or workplace.
Be safe. You will not be of any use to Tabdeeli revolution as dead people.
This is not a joke.
Unfortunately this upset my family and friends saying that I am trying to scare them from taking charge of their lives and trying to bring in change in situation of Karachi. They are really fired up to give up their lives for change as according to them living in fear is no life at all. To appease them, I quoted this dialogue of Mel Gibson from Braveheart to make amends with them
Aye, fight and you may die. Run, and you’ll live… at least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin’ to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take… OUR FREEDOM!
We dont have to look to West for inspiration. The people of Karachi including mainly supporters of PTI from NA-250 but also from other parts of Karachi and supporters of other parties as well created their own such video Iss Halqay ko Halqa mat layna with a similar message.
Before we go on blaming MQM for its violent streak, we must understand that there is a reason for it. MQM is not the problem but a symptom of problem ie a vacuum of justice and writ of state. MQM’s violent tactics thrived in this vacuum. If time and life permit me, a detailed post on why and how MQM came to be what it is today will follow soon.
- Is this the end of Hammad Siddiqui? (2paisa.wordpress.com)
- Why and How MQM was Rabita Committee beaten (2paisa.wordpress.com)
- Timeline: A history of MQM (dawn.com)
- PTI’s popularity fear in Karachi? MQM dissolves coordination committees (thenewstribe.com)
- MQM boycotts NA-250 re-polls (dawn.com)
- Karachi’s king over the water: Altaf Hussain of the MQM (guardian.co.uk)