Zulfi Mirza’s explosive ‘allegations’

Sunday is usually a slow news day in most countries but in Pakistan this is a rarity. Dr Zulfiqar Mirza, a fiery Sindhi leader belonging to the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) who is known for his controversial statements, held an explosive press conference on Sunday. It lasted for more than two hours (apart from another unofficial press conference for almost two hours on a private television channel later at night), where Zulfi Mirza took oath on the Quran that whatever he said would be nothing but the truth. Dr Mirza was an MPA from the Sindh Assembly, senior provincial minister, PPP Sindh’s vice-president and member of the PPP’s Central Executive Committee (CEC). Not only did he quit all party and government posts (Mirza did not renounce his PPP membership and vowed to die as a PPP worker), he created ripples by certain disclosures about federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain and the MQM itself. Dr Mirza called Rehman Malik a compulsive liar and alleged that he is working hand in glove with killers and terrorists. He called Altaf Hussain a “killer” and the MQM a “terrorist organisation”. Dr Mirza said that the orders to kill come from London, where Mr Hussain lives in self-exile, and the killing spree ends on the orders from London. Dr Mirza laid the blame of journalist Wali Khan Babar’s death at the doorstep of the MQM apart from hurling various other serious allegations against the party. Dr Mirza said he had substantial proof of all that he had said.

The PPP, it seems, has distanced itself from Dr Mirza’s statements once again. Federal Information Minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said that Mirza did not represent the party line and these were his personal views. Mr Rehman Malik also denied these allegations and said that Dr Mirza was like his younger brother, thus he does not mind what was nothing but an emotional outburst by Sindh’s former home minister. The MQM, surprisingly, did not react as sharply as was expected from the party. The MQM said that Dr Mirza “tried to fan hatred and violence” as is his wont and “it is Dr Mirza who was aiding and abetting killers, terrorists, kidnappers, dacoits and other criminals involved in heinous offences”. The Coordination Committee of the MQM demanded that the PPP leadership should take serious notice of the allegations levelled by Dr Mirza against the party and explain their position.

The reasons behind Dr Mirza’s explosive allegations are still unknown but it should be kept in mind that Sindhis’ resentment against the MQM goes a long way back. Ever since the MQM was formed back in the 1980s, it is said to be indulging in terrorism not just against others but even its own people. The MQM’s torture cells were exposed in the 90s; by now other political parties have followed suit. Thus Dr Mirza’s accusations against the MQM are nothing new. The MQM asserted its dominance in Karachi, Hyderabad and some other urban centres of Sindh and as a result, Sindhis were marginalised in these cities. The migration of the Pashtuns into Karachi changed the demographic realities. The Sindhis, Pashtuns, Punjabis and Baloch felt that the MQM was an exclusivist ethnic party. President Zardari’s policy of 'reconciliation' led the PPP to mollycoddle the MQM, which allowed the MQM’s blackmailing tactics to succeed. On the other hand, starting the surgical operation from Lyari was perhaps not the wisest thing to do as it is a PPP stronghold. Instead of starting an operation all over Karachi, especially in the areas dominated by the MQM, the first target was the PPP itself. But one thing is clear: Rehman Malik is not following his own policy; he has been given a mandate by President Zardari. To pin everything on Mr Malik is thus not entirely fair. The disillusionment and dismay within the PPP’s Sindhi constituency was visible when the local government system was reintroduced in Sindh by the PPP. Dr Mirza might be positioning himself as the leader of the PPP’s Sindhi constituency apart from trying to ally the Sindhi nationalists with himself. If this happens, the PPP will be hit the most. But there are speculations whether President Zardari is playing political chess by pitting Dr Mirza against the MQM once again. Pakistan’s politics is as intriguing as ever. The Chief Justice has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to obtain the text of Dr Miza’s allegations. It is hoped that the SC would conduct an impartial inquiry into these allegations and bring about some substantial results to correct Karachi's wrongs.

(my editorial in Daily Times)

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