MQM: testing the waters?

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has quit the federal cabinet but its parliamentarians will continue to sit on the treasury benches both in the National Assembly and the Senate so as not to “destabilise the government”. The MQM has two federal ministries – Overseas Pakistanis and Ports and Shipping. Despite relinquishing its two federal portfolios, the MQM will remain part of the Sindh Assembly as a coalition partner. This decision was taken late night by the MQM’s Coordination Committee. According to the MQM, “the ministries it has in the federal cabinet are of no use since the recommendations and proposals (of MQM ministers) are being ignored without citing any reason” and “a decision will soon be taken about quitting the federal government and future relationship with the Sindh government as a coalition partner”.

Now this is not an unimportant decision. On the surface, the MQM is not looking for better portfolios in the federal cabinet. If that is not true, then they will be perceived as following in the footsteps of Maulana Fazlur Rehman, although it appears unlikely the MQM would damage its image so grievously. The MQM may have blackmailed governments in the past by threatening to resign but this time around they have actually gone and done it, at least at the federal cabinet level. The PPP has assured the MQM that it will address all their reservations. What is interesting is that after the Zulfiqar Mirza episode, the PPP had tried to allay the MQM’s reservations; this decision therefore came out of the blue for the PPP. The real reason behind this could be that since the government is in trouble these days, the MQM is testing the waters. The government is accused of corruption and bad governance. On top of this, the law and order situation is out of the government’s control. Under such circumstances, the MQM is being pragmatic by distancing itself from the government. It has not taken a final decision to either bring down the government or ask for new elections. It seems therefore like a halfway-house decision, which will open up the MQM’s future options and also lead to a flurry of activity on the political front.

Apparently, the MQM will support the government from the outside for the time being but will also wait to see what response comes its way from other political parties. Those forces interested in seeing the back of the PPP government, like the PML-Q, will probably now try to woo the MQM. We will have to wait and see how the PML-N responds to this issue, however. Since relations between the Nawaz-League and the MQM are at its lowest after Mian Nawaz Sharif’s recent outburst against the party and Altaf Hussain’s rejoinder, it is unlikely that the MQM would consider flirting with the PML-N.

The MQM is positioning itself to take the best advantage of the uncertainty that is looming on the political horizon. If there is a chance that this government is falling, the MQM may opt to sit on the Opposition benches as it would not want to be burdened with the baggage of being part of a falling government. This should serve as a wake-up call for the PPP. The political game is hotting up and parties like the JUI-F, MQM, etc, are bound to try and maximise their gains. Obviously, with the most to lose, the PPP has to take the lead in trying to pacify its estranged coalition partners and work towards strengthening the performance of its government.

(my editorial in Daily Times)


Liaquat Ali said…
Salaams Mehmal,

I am still waiting for the bibliography you promised to provide to me when I challenged your journalistic credibility in this editorial

However, if not having access to that bibliography means that you write relatively sensible editorials, then take your time in finding that bibliography.

However, if you start shooting from the hip again, then be ready to provide your bibliography because now you cannot make the excuse that you don't have the bibliography for the fresh editorials.
mehmal said…

just because I don't have access to the bibliography doesn't mean I don't remember what I've read. And it's not just me who makes those claims about the MQM, a lot of other journalists also do that. I am sure I don't have any influence over those senior journalists, so how come they say the same things as I do? Don't worry, I will send you that bibliography but only when I actually get access to it again :)

and just because this wasn't an anti-MQM edit, you don't have a problem with it. Good to know that :p
Anonymous said…
Gotcha Ms.Mehmal Sarfaraz, Your name suggests the ethnicty you belong to ,,,aaaaaa let me guess , a Punajbie kuri settled in Karachi , right ? he hehhhe he .

U know sompthin , a lot of my firends around my home are Punjabis , guess what they always try yo side with their paternal root , ie Nawaz Sharif . As a matter of afct we live with the Punjabis around us so peacefully , i even have got two my bhabis who are karachi settled punjabis , yet the forget that they have to side with us as we all live in Karachi and not in Gujranwla or changa manga , please wake up , this is the best thing for you and your peers .Forgive any offence .
mehmal said…
Dear anonymous,

you're wrong. I am a Baloch living in Punjab :)

and if you read my edits/articles, you'll know that I am very critical of the Sharifs too. I don't have any party loyalty thankfully and try to be as objective as possible. You may disagree with my views but that's your choice. To each his/her own :)
Liaquat Ali said…
Well, are you trying to tell me that you write without actual references and worry about references when someone challenges you?

As far as the MQM, please allow me to say this...When you try to save Aasia in the blasphemy "law" debacle, you try to save all minorities (especially of religious kind) from the tyranny of the majority.

The same way when you try to correct old wives tales against the MQM, you help create sanity in political writing.

Aasia has nothing to do with the MQM and I write against the political mileage some are trying to gain by trying to send her to gallows.

Justice on the ground has a lot to do with justice with the pen. So if you want to jump in a lake for no logical reason then be my guest.

Also a piece of writing is a legacy one leaves for the generations to come.

So try to focus on writing reference-able editorials for your own sake instead of trying to determine my political affiliations or there lack of.
Liaquat Ali said…
Anonymous: Please refrain from making pejorative ethnic comments. Mehmal is a scholar and a scholar CANNOT be biased if she wants to excel in her scholarship.

One thing I do like about her is that she communicates. That tells a lot about a person's level of humility. Those who are full of themselves don't communicate except through monologues.

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