Why is Altaf Hussain not tried in UK?

MQM flag

When Quaid-e-Tatheer Pir Altaf Hussain Bhai made threatening speeches covered here, quite a lot of people wanted to know if he could be tried under UK law. Someone sent me the following laws under which he could be tried in UK for his hate and murder inciting speeches.

Section 18(1) Public Order Act, 1986 – using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to stir up racial hatred.

Section 23 Public Order Act, 1986 – threatening, abusive or insulting recordings of sound, with intent to stir up racial hatred.

Section 59 The Terrorism Act, 2000 – Inciting Terrorism Overseas.

Section 1 The Terrorism Act, 2006 – Encouragement of Terrorism.

Section 4 Offences Against the Person Act, 1860 – whosoever shall solicit, encourage, persuade, or endeavour to persuade, or shall propose to any person, to murder any other person, whether he be a subject of Her Majesty or not, and whether he be within the Queen’s dominions or not, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and being convicted thereof shall be liable imprisonment for life.

So I asked my friend who is a solicitor in UK whether its just a viral email or are there really such laws in UK under which QeT Altaf Bhai can be tried. He had this to say

Section 18, 19, 21 and 22 can apply, although it is (weakly) arguable that his comments did not have a raci

Karachi by day, on the road

element to them and were directed to political opponents. Section 23 actually relates to possessing racially inflammatory material and is probably not relevant here (unless he possesses records of his speech). The problem is that Altaf did qualify his statements immediately after he made them and said that he was not threatening anyone and so it is necessary to look at the overall speech in context, rather than just selecting a few choice threatening statements. I haven’t heard it because I have a life.

The problem is that Altaf Hussain has been groomed by western governments due to the ridiculous amount of leverage he has over Karachi. Through him the British can shut off our only real port and that is an incredible advantage for one nation to have over another nation. They would be mad to give it up.

So unless Altaf Hussain really fucks something up against British interest, it is safe to assume that he will remain unharmed in UK.

UPDATE

The recent article published in Guardian also makes the same claim that British give Altaf Hussain protection because he is of help to them:

Altaf Hussain, the notorious MQM leader who swapped Pakistan for London

British interest in the MQM is largely driven by the perception that the party offers a defence against jihadis. But there is more to it than that. The MQM is British turf: Karachi is one of the few places left on earth in which the Americans let Britain take the lead. The US consulate in Karachi no longer runs active intelligence gathering operations in the city. The British still do. When it comes to claiming a place at the top table of international security politics – London’s relationship with the MQM is a remaining toehold.

And there’s something else. The FCO’s most important currency is influence. Successive Pakistani governments, when they are not demanding Hussain’s extradition, have included his parliamentary bloc in various coalition governments. From the FCO’s point of view, it’s a great source of access. Right on their doorstep, in London, they have a man with ministers in the Pakistani government.

For its part the UK government insists there is nothing unusual about its contacts with MQM and that its meetings with MQM officials are: “a normal part of diplomatic activity around the world”. I spoke to a British official recently about the MQM and asked why the UK government, so keen to declare its commitment to human rights, seemed so willing to deal with the party despite officials privately saying that it uses violence to achieve its goals. She said: “There is one thing I can assure you of – it’s not a conspiracy.” Which in a sense is true. It’s not a conspiracy. It’s just policy.

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Musings on Pakistani social media – Twitter edition

Caveats: I want to highlight four facts before you read this unstructured rant.

1. My political views are what are termed as “political islamist” or just “islamist”. So my observations and inferences that I have derived from them may be colored by those views.

2. The period I am covering here is from pre-May 2013 election till now.

3. I follow around 250 people on twitter and in addition say they Retweet (RT) 50 other people regularly so in effect my observations are based on tweets of total of 300 people

and most importantly, as brought to attention by one commentator,

4. I am generalizing here i.e., brushing with broad strokes. Its just a high level view of my observations.

Pre-election period

PTI by appealing to educated and plugged-into-social-media youth had really taken off and had become a formidable foe by engaging the disengaged youth. Other parties also took to twitter and facebook but one has to admit that PTI had the strongest presence on social media before the election. How they abused this position and how it ultimately fooled them into believing that being a majority on social media means being a majority in the parliament is covered by others extensively so I will not dwell on that.

All parties in Pakistan have an element of cult in them. Most people follow these parties not for the values or manifestos they have presented but because of their leaders. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has always been a cult of Bhutto on a national level, but under Zardari it has become a Sind regional party.

Supporters of PML-N mainly follow it for the Mian Nawaz Sharif and Mian Shahbaz Sharif but its more of a personality following rather than a cult. The only party that is not a cult is probably Jamat-e-Islami but its too small a party. We also have Awami National Party (ANP) leadership of which remains in the ahl-e-bait of its founder Baacha Khan. But in relative terms, these parties are open to or at least tolerant of criticism of their actions as well their leaders.

On the other extreme, we have Muttahida Quomi Movement (MQM) a party of urban Sind headed by self-exiled leader Altaf Hussain. The cult eader status bestowed to him is extra-ordinary. They are highly intolerant of criticism and no newspaper which has offices or circulation in Karachi will dare to criticize them.

However, they failed to understand the impact of social media mainly twitter. MQM didn’t appreciate the fact that twitter allows people to express their frustrations and criticisms anonymously something which the general public couldn’t do on print and electronic media without fear of reprisal from MQM. So in of absence any criticism in public sphere, MQM fooled themselves into believing that people of Karachi will vote for them out of fear or will remain at home. However, quite a large number of people in Karachi were fed up with MQM and wanted to vote PTI (as no other party reached out to them or even talked to them) but when the voters reached polling stations, in some cases they weren’t allowed to vote, their vote had already been cast, or in some places MQM workers were filling ballot boxes with fake votes and at some places they strong armed the polling station staff to not reach the polling station on the allocated time_a fact which came to light in voting of national assembly seat from Karachi NA-250. MQM presumed that like earlier times people will take this silently. Surprisingly, people refused to be cowed down and in certain cases took to streets (which would never have happened earlier).

For MQM this was a first i.e., ordinary people protesting against them openly. They were at a loss as to how to counter this onslaught and it led to a few faux pas speeches by their leader Quaid-e-Tatheer Pir Altaf Hussain Bhai. (I have covered these  here “MQM’s reign of terror post elections 2013″ and “Why and How MQM Rabita Committee was beaten”). On the social media front, MQM was totally ill prepared for the criticism and abuses that started against them. People who would normally be discrete in their criticism of MQM even privately as they live and work in areas surrounded by MQM supporters took to criticizing MQM openly on Facebook where you are not anonymous. On twitter, frustrated Karachiites tagged MQM representative and became abusive towards them, towards MQM but most importantly towards Quaid-e-Tatheer Pir Altaf Hussain Bhai. MQM was not at all prepared for this barrage of criticism. This post “Social Media Strategy of MQM” makes it pretty clear how MQM deals with criticism generally and how trying the same tactics on social media actually backfired. Later they created a lot of fake accounts to tweet favorable news and occasionally create and tweet a lot of hashtags to get MQM related topics to trend such as #united4Altaf #onlyAltaf yesterday but its safe to say that MQM is still not able find its bearings on twitter. (For some twitter humor -> “Altaf Hussain and Titanic”)

The party that made the most use of social media pre-election was PTI led by former cricketer and philanthropist Imran Khan. The cult leader status that the supporters bestowed to Imran Khan was comparable to cult status of Quaid-e-Tatheer Pir Altaf Hussain Bhai amongst MQM supporters. PTI supporters would not tolerate any criticism of PTI much less Imran Khan and would stoop down to hurtling abuses to anyone daring to criticize or even trying to give suggestions to change their policies/manifestos etc. They earned the name “PTI trolls” as they would come down together on any journalist or analyst on twitter. They also created fake accounts of journalists/analysts and tweeted positive propaganda with respect to PTI and with respect to opponents, they spread malicious propaganda. This is what a fake account of, Jang/TheNews journalist and anchor of GEO TV program Jirga, Saleem Safi tweeted most probably operated by a PTI troll on election day. Tweets have since been deleted but I took a screenshot of them.

This and similar other tweets from other fake accounts upset Saleem Safi so much that he wrote a whole column in Urdu about it

I am having fun with it

Post Election Period

Once the elections were held, it was hard for PTI supporters to fathom that despite having such a huge presence on social media, how come the outcome was not what they desired. They went into denial mode claiming mass scale rigging. Absence of Imran Khan from the scene due to his fall from the lifter two days before the election also meant that there was no leadership to guide them. PTI was a major force in urban centres but failed to make any headway in suburbs and rural areas. As such, when the results showed that masses didn’t vote overwhelmingly for PTI, PTI supporters stooped to calling general public Jaahil (ignorant). You have to understand that these voters of PTI were mainly first time voters and educated elite of Pakistan who had never bothered to vote earlier and credit goes to Imran Khan for engaging them. They were teachers, professionals, businessmen, corporate CEOs and consultants educated from best Pakistani and western universities but they couldn’t take the loss at ballot box and still could not come to grips with the fact that a vote of someone living in rural area or not as highly educated as them or as successful as them is equivalent to their vote. There is a wonderful website which collected unquotable gems from these Harvard, Wharton, IBA, LUMS etc educated youth on social media. Do visit it Public shaming #Pakvotes as it will give you some insight into their mindset. A wonderful essay in this regard that I cannot recommend enough is The Disadvantages of Elite Education by William Deresiewicz, which is a must read.

Now that PTI has its government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province, focus of PTI trolls has shifted to actions of their own government and there is significant reduction in their social media trolling. Probably they too have realized that this trolling is actually destroying the little goodwill that they have left, if any.

Lets move to the other intelligentsia we have on social media. These are the so called English speaking journalists and analysts on twitter and can be described as left-of-centre in their leanings and probably hate PTI for its rightist leanings. They also despise the general public of Pakistan as when it comes to issues such as terrorism etc, general public leans right. They are best described in the following tweet

Pakistan especially KPK is facing a lot of terrorism. One such day was yesterday wherein a Terrorists strike in Quetta, Peshawar, NWA

As many as 49 persons, including security personnel, lost their lives and over 100 others sustained injuries in separate incidents of terrorism in Quetta, Peshawar and North Waziristan on Sunday.

Now if one followed the intelligentsia tweets yesterday, it was all outrage. There was empathy for victims but that was also a tool to express outrage. Outrage against terrorists? No. Outrage against PTI (as they rule in KPK) as well as common man as he is not fully behind the army in this War on Terror or because the common man opposes the Drone strategy

The above are a sample most read journalists/writers in English press of Pakistan and all they have to offer is to blame the common man or blame Punjab. The above is just a sample. Yesterday, my timeline was filled with such useless outrage from morning till night. It is not as if we are not fighting this war. We have been fighting this war for last 10 years. Here is a good piece of research Numbers of Terror on the myths propagated by these journalists in terms of number of people killed and as if our army is not fighting this war.

Twitter has widened the schisms in our society. These journalists consider the rest of the population as illiterate or unenlightened, it has actually polarized the society with the result that if these journalists/analysts/”though leaders” decide to bandy behind a particular issue, the rest of population believes there is a hidden agenda. Like PTI trolls and supporters, by just promoting their own causes and belittling the causes that the rest of the population wants to stand behind, they polarize the society. What they think is satire is actually read as affront by common man.  They don’t try to listen to other viewpoint or convince him of their arguments rather shove their views down common man’s throat. As such, common man refuses to listen to them and runs in opposite direction. As such, we all have our pet projects and causes which are mutually exclusive rather opposites. They are pro-drone, common man is anti-drone. The people who the common man have voted in want to use negotiation with Taliban as part of overall strategy because fighting them for last 10 years hasn’t resulted in any gains as far as common man knows so these people make fun of common man, his thinking, leave no opportunity to snark at it and consequently want nothing to do with negotiations. This polarization manifested itself clearly in case of Malala attack. The innocent minor girl faced a barbaric attack by Taliban. However, the vehemence with which the aforementioned journalists/analysts/thinks took up her cause and displayed their outrage actually distanced the common man from her. Whereas she needed the whole nation to stand behind her, the constant point scoring by our “intelligentsia” made sure that common man believe that she is part of some larger conspiracy or hidden agenda.

The intelligentsia continues to blame Zia ul Haq for creating this confused nation but they have only themselves to blame. Zia has been dead for more than 25 years. A whole generation has been born and grown up during this time. What have they to show for this 25 years to correct Zia’s wrongs? A few columns blaming Zia. 25 years down the line they will still be blaming Zia and all they will have to show for their efforts will be their satirical and hate filled columns, blogs and tweets. Lot of good they are doing.

Below is one of my sunni bias manifesting itself

Getting 100 people killed in a fortnight is a genocide of Karachiites. But we take it in a passing. 12 people were killed in Karachi day before yesterday. But a lot of people only feel outraged when its someone from minority because it allows them to push their agenda whatever that is.

This is till 1155am today: Karachi: Six killed in violent incidents, police encounter today. Only half a day has passed. Assuming pattern continues, around 12 will be killed today, which is a number equivalent to people killed in a bomb blast. But bomb blasts happen once a week or twice. However, this many people keep on dying on streets of Karachi everyday yet there is no outrage in any quarter.

A brilliant, thoughtful and well-structured read on selective outrage that we as a society show is Death of a Nation. Its a must read.

Altaf Hussain and Titanic

Cover of "Titanic (Three-Disc Special Col...

Quaid-e-Tatheer Pir Altaf Hussain Bhai has been known to have absurd outbursts all the time that become butt of jokes amongst his opponents (collected here). However, these statements later force his lieutenants to come up with equally, if not more, absurd arguments trying to justify them.

Most recent example is Quaid-e-Tatheer’s statement that “Titanic of Muslim Ummah is sinking.” It left people scratching their heads to understand the explicit or implicit meaning underlying the statement. In comes Mustafa Azizabadi, Member of Central Coordination Committee (Rabita Committee) of MQM and Incharge of MQM International Secretariat London, and tries to give meaning to it in his tweet:

I don’t know what Quaid-e-Tatheer Altaf Hussain Bhai had in mind when it comes to Titanic but personally only thing I am reminded of is that famous (or infamous) scene where Leonardo Di Caprio does a portrait of Kate Winslet.

Close-up shot of Cameron's nude Rose sketch wi...

On a serious note, I think Mustafa Azizabadi is either the speech writer of Altaf Hussain or may be he has invested in Titanic franchise in Pakistan.

UPDATE

Later MQM Member Rabita Committee and Incharge Central Information Committee MQM Wasay Jalil also tried to come to rescue of Altaf Hussain

 

Social Media strategy of MQM

MQM does not take kindly to criticism. Whereas the same can also be said of PTI supporters who start hurling abuses at critics, however, MQM usually kills its critics. As such, you will never see a common man criticizing MQM in streets of Karachi.

The advantage of social media is that to an extent it offers the critics the anonymity or at least provides them a safe location to criticize MQM. MQM, which has always relied on its intimidating and threatening tactics as well as death to suppress its critics, is finding it hard to control criticism on social media due to this.

So their strategy boils down to this. Get the social media commentor to reveal his identity or location so that they can physically threaten them. This is best displayed by tweets of MQM MPA Irum Azeem (Jalal) Farooque (twitter handle @irumf) and MQM MNA Ali Raza Abedi (twitter handle @abidifactor). Here they stop short of mentioning death otherwise it is pretty clear that they are going to beat the shit out of their critics provided they find out their identities and location.

The following four tweets describe in words of MQM Senator Haider Abbas Rizvi “Shoshal” Media Strategy of MQM. This shows the fascist mindset of MQM. Whereas in case of PTI its their supporters and not their leaders that hurl abuses, in case of MQM its their parliamentarians that physically threaten them.

In the below tweet, MQM MPA Irum Azeem Farooque requests MQM MNA Ali Raza Abidi to invite the critics to a place where they can beat them.
20130610-084923.jpg

In the below tweet, she is requesting her MQM followers to try to find out the IP address of the critical tweeps so that MQM can threaten them or shut them up by reporting them as spam.

20130610-084935.jpg

Mohsin Soharwardi probably a disgruntled insider of MQM or may be sidelined in Altaf Hussain’s tatheer policies is very critical of MQM’s policies online. Below he describes how he is being approached by MQM MNA to reveal his location.

20130610-084948.jpg

The below is a screenshot of a direct message (DM in twitter lingo) sent by MQM MNA Syed Ali Raza Abidi to Soharwardi threatening him.

20130610-085015.jpg

Though the above mentioned are just images, you can reach the actual tweets by following links in my following tweet.

Altaf Hussain : Leader with a foresight – Picture from Archives

Every human has vices. A leader more so or at least his vices are scrutinized by public eyes. Some like to drink too much (will not name them here), some like to sleep around (will not name him here either) and some like to get married again and again (will not name that hair-transplanted baldy about to become CM for third time).

But a real leader, to use the trendy self-help jargon, “channels” his vice urge into something positive or let’s say something harmless.

Here is where Quaid-e-Tehreek Pir Altaf Hussain Bhai comes in. Bhai just loves his telephone or rather is addicted to it. That is his only vice if you can call it that.

In these days of Skype where doing a video conference is literally as easy as dialing a number, Bhai likes to remain true to his roots, feet firmly planted in the ground, and give sermons via telephone. He is “The Voice”. He can move crowds into frenzy and into action with just his voice.

Those asking for his return should understand that if he can achieve this via long distance telephone call despite static noise in the line, how much power he can wield with his mere presence amongst his people. Be careful what you wish for.

اڑ بیٹھے کیا سمجھ کے بھلا طور پر کلیم
طاقت ہو دید کی تو تقاضا کرے کوئی

As alway Quaid-e-Tehreek Pir Altaf Hussain Bhai has been a trailblazer. It is edgy nowadays to take your own picture via a mirror with your cellphone or DSLR. QeT Bhai was decades ahead of this trend by having a professional photographer at the ready whenever he was on the phone.

Using your digital phones continuously or typing with one hand continuously can lead to RSI (If you don’t know what that is, you can’t even begin to fathom the foresightedness of trailblazing Pir Quaid-e-Tehreek Altaf Hussain bhai). That’s why you’ll seem him holding his phone with left hand in one pic, with right hand in another pic, with right hand but to his left ear in another pic and someone else holding holding it to his ear in another pic.

ہزاروں سال نرگس اپنی بےنوری پہ روتی ہے
بڑی مشکل سے ہوتا ہے چمن میں دیداور پیدا

20130530-115256.jpg

MQM’s reign of terror post elections 2013

MQM flag

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.

Results show PTI has vote bank in MQM strongholds : DAWN

The number of votes polled are summarized in table below. Click on the table to enlarge it.

ecp PTI karachi

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.

ONE

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.

TWO

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.

THREE

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.

FOUR

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.

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Is this the end of road for Hammad Siddiqui?

Hammad SiddiquiI should start this post with a warning that this post comprises of my thoughts and theories about Hammad Siddiqui’s disappearance from the scene. A lot would come clearer in next 24 hours once MQM has its workers’ convention and finalizes the new office bearers. Also this post is not about how the present changes MQM is going through are actually beneficial in the long run for denizens of Karachi as PTI’s victory in NA-250 as well as its emerging as 2nd largest party in Karachi with votes running into tens of thousands in those areas where MQM thought it has 98% of vote bank is forcing MQM to reconsider how it runs Karachi.

Who was Hammad Siddiqui and what forced him to run to Dubai overnight are the questions in everyone’s mind. Hammad Siddiqui was head of MQM’s Karachi Tanzeemi Committee (KTC) and after the Rabita Committee (RC) beating he was suspended from his position. The beating of RC I have covered in detail in my earlier post Why and How Rabita Committee was beaten? So the next question is what is KTC? In short, all sector incharges of Karachi report to KTC. A brief overview of MQM’s organization structure with respect to KTC is in order. Below is an excerpt from an email/post going around on facebook attributed to different people. Whereas those people have denied that they have written it, however, the below part is more or less true.

MQM is a very well managed organization which works under a tight command and control mechanism. They have divided Karachi into number of sectors; each sector is divided into units. The first tier is called the unit. There are MQM units in every nook and corner of Karachi. Every apartment complex has one unit, and nearly on every 500 houses there is a unit. The units report to a particular sector under which they come. Each unit has a unit in-charge and other proper posts. As these guys live among us hence they know each and every house and shop that come under their supervision. The unit in-charge literally controls whatever goes within the jurisdiction of his unit. From cable person reporting to him to the SHO of that area every one obeys that unit in-charge. They snatch mobiles, get bhatta from shops, get their students cheated in exams, confiscate skins at Eid Ul Azha and collect fitra on Eidu ul Fitar. The collections from units goes into millions and collection from Karachi goes into billions on daily basis.

The units report and submit their loot to the sectors, each unit in-charge has to sit in sector on frequent basis from where they get instructions. The sectors report to Nine Zero (90 is the address of the house of Altaf Hussain in Azizabad Karachi) this is headquarter of MQM. This is the reason that within minutes they can jam Karachi as they just need to make one call from 90, the instructions go to sectors where they call unit in-charge who have complete arms and ammunition. No Karachite can stand in front of them as they easily and without mercy kill. If they want to threat someone, they write on their house wall ” Jo Qaid ka ghadar hai who mot ka haqdar hai”

Lets divide MQM into two wings for our ease. One is political wing which is involved in law making, policy research, etc. Rabita Committee is part of political wing of MQM. Then you have the non-political wing (for lack of an appropriate word). This comprises of grassroot MQM workers of Unit offices and Sector offices. These are the foot soldiers of MQM and some of them also acts as part time militants of MQM. The non-political wing for Karachi reports to KTC which is or was headed by Hammad Siddiqui.

To use an army analogy, Hammad Siddiqui commands battalions and foot soldiers and this is where the real power lies. Similar to how soldiers are loyal to their commanding officers, the workers are loyal to unit incharge who in turn is loyal to his sector incharge who in turn is loyal to Hammad Siddiqui who in turn is loyal directly to Altaf Hussain. Whereas the political wing understands the political challenges MQM faces as a political mainstream party and tries to work within the system, the non-political wing does not feel such obligation. On paper, we have two RCs one in London and one in Karachi. Then you have KTC. The way it is supposed to work is Altaf Bhai is supposed to issue instructions to RC London who should convey it to RC Karachi and who in turn should act accordingly or if the need arises issue instructions to KTC. However, in reality, RC London is a cost centre because they don’t have source of revenue. RC Karachi sits on the goldmine that is the economic engine of Pakistan. Hence, there is always a power struggle between RC London and RC Karachi.

The slogan “Jo Quaid Ka Ghaddar Hai, Wo Maut Ka Haqdaar Hai” was made for KTC people and they firmly believe in it. There is a new slogan in town Altafist i.e., people feel their loyalty is more to Altaf Hussain and not to party or its ideology as such. You can think of KTC as Altafists ie they are more loyal to their chain of command and their boss Hammad Siddiqui answers to Altaf Hussain and not to the hierarchy of political wing. Though KTC and political wing may work together but if push comes to shove, KTC will not hesitate to beat the shit out of political wing if Altaf Hussain asks them to do it as we witnessed few days ago. Political wing is aware of this and has been wary of this sword hanging over them for a long time.

Now that we have understood the basics. What happened on the fateful night was pre-arranged between Hammad Siddiqui and Altaf Hussain. However, Altaf Hussain was not ready for the blowback from RC members and the latter has as a minimum asked for removal of Hammad Siddiqui who they never liked anyway. You must be asking how come RC Karachi holds so much sway when they could be beaten so easily. Answer is that RC as they are the ones who present the liberal, progressive and secular image of MQM to the world. Secondly, the election results with PTI threatening the crown of MQM as the only representative of people of Karachi really shook things up in MQM. When Altaf Hussain finally woke up from his drunken stupor he realized that MQM’s stature is under threat and decided to shake things up and make MQM a “decent” party. So his talk about no more charity collection (also known as extortion) by MQM along with other measures is part of improving the image of MQM.

So to appease RC, Altaf Hussain had removed Hammad from the party for doing exactly what Altaf Hussain asked him to do. However, as stated above, Hammad controlled KTC and footsoldiers and if Hammad orders them, they may rebel against the party or at least the political wing and by the time Altaf Hussain wakes up from his next hangover, a new management would be in place in Karachi, though still loyal to Altaf Hussain but no intellectual depth extortionists comprising of KTC. So RC had Hammad confined to MQM HQ and had orders issues that Hammad is not to contact any of the MQM workers and vice versa.

However, the Sector Incharges etc who are loyal to him would have still tried to contact him as is human nature as they have been reporting to him for years and despise the political wing similar to what happens in corporate world where people working in profit centres despise cost centres. So to put all such efforts to rest and so that no one catches on to it that Hammad Siddiqui is under confinement or has been killed by political wing, political wing leaks the news to media channels that Hammad Siddiqui has ran off to Dubai. The news spreads on electronic as well as social media like wildfire and everyone believes it as if major dent has been made in edifice of MQM. No one has seen Hammad Siddiqui at the airport and if he had to escape, he would go to UK and seek asylum instead of Dubai etc where intelligence agencies can reach him clandestinely as well as through official channels. The question no one is asking is why would you want to let Hammad go to Dubai where he can still call on loyalty of his sector and unit incharges and cause trouble when a new setup is far from established back home.

Is this the end of Hammad Siddiqui’s career? Probably, unless he is later forgiven by Altaf Hussain and joins back as Amir Khan of MQM-Haqiqi has done. However, I think he will remain hidden from the scene long enough that a new head of KTC takes over most probably a sector incharge of one of the lucrative sectors of Karachi. Alternatively, someone from London office may be made a KTC head so that KTC still remains loyal to Altaf Hussain and keeps a check on political wing. However, once the new head of KTC has established himself and more so if its a sector incharge, it will be in benefit of new KTC head that all incharges feel loyalty to him and not Hammad anymore. If lot of time passes, and Hammad arrives on the scene again trying to assert his authority, this time it will be the new KTC head who will have Hammad killed for becoming a challenge to his authority.

Hammad may be able to join the political wing or London RC, but I think his days as KTC head and major power player in Karachi are over. I could be 100% wrong in my above prophecies and could have waited half a day to see the outcome of workers’ convention but then where is the fun in that.

I would love to hear from you of what you think of it. You can put your statements in comments section below anonymously, send me an email on the address that appears in the sidebar or create a fake twitter account and tweet to me.

Two pieces that I recommend you read but take them with a pinch of salt are

MQM bubble about to burst (The Spokesman)

Britain’s relationship with MQM (Pak Nationalist)

Those who are believing this is end of MQM do not understand either politics or society of Karachi. Unless some revolt takes place, MQM is on a path to restructuring on which a very detailed post is needed which if life and time permits me I will write one of these days. One also needs to understand the dynamics of politics and violence in Karachi to understand MQM which for an outsider is pretty hard to do.

UPDATE 1:
Whispers on the street: Altaf Bhai has called back boys that are based in South Africa. If true, doesn’t bode well for future if city as South Africa is say where high profile target killings are planned by MQM. If its kiss and make up with Hammad at workers convention this evening. The next few weeks will be very bloody in this city.

UPDATE 2:
It’s been reported in news that PPP backed People’s Aman Committee killed 16 members of MQM backed Katchi Rabita Committee in a week. Probably South African death squad is being brought back to take on Amn Committee.

WARNING: All the above forecasts are ramblings based on rumors, information from reliable sources as well as my hypotheses and should be treated as such.