Ever since I have been able to comprehend things, I have heard the name of this organization mentioned. It is the singular most powerful political party in my city of birth “Karachi” and beyond doubt the most well organized. Now MQM or Muttahida Qaumi Movement was not always the powerhouse, be all say all of this city and to understand the beginning of this organization one has to first understand why the people who migrated here from India started calling themselves Muhajir, or rather as I see it were forced to adopt that term.
Many people often tell me “oh you guys always use this victim mentality to defend your own shortcomings” Consider this however, most of us and I speak of my community the memons here, migrated from India leaving behind far greater wealth than we could ever hope to achieve in this new land. We were among the pioneers of Industry here in Karachi and Sind and lent not just our expertise in various sectors to this land but demonstrated a dedication to this country far beyond what is available today. In response to that we were isolated, barred from prestigious places in the government and the diplomatic core and were told to basically stick to industry to make more money for Pakistan. Is it not a shame that the finest business minds in this countries entire population are present in this community but we have only had one commerce minister from among us? Same goes for the other sectors of government, there are no memon diplomats or memon generals and you can substitute the word “memon” with any community that migrated here to get the same result. I used my own community’s example as I have witnessed them firsthand. These communities under the yoke of oppression that was imposed on them by the so called “sons of the soil” (yes I speak of all of you fuedals from Tando allah yar to Lahore) had no choice but to take the name of muhajir literally meaning refugee for that is what we have all been treated as so far. Bear in mind dear reader that this is the same yoke of oppression which refused to adopt a “Bengali” as a leader of a united Pakistan and thus gave us the fragmented nation we have today. The hatred of this section of Pakistan for migrants is visible in the terms “Bhooka Bengali” to describe a really hungry person or “Kalwa” a more brunt form of the word Muhajir as fair or gora is always good and right while Kala or black is always wrong here.This is the phycology of exclusion.
Fittingly the leader of all these migrants was a man from humble beginnings, a student of Karachi University, who upon witnessing the atrocities being committed their in the name of admissions and quotas decided to form a student action committee which later grew into APMSO, a student organization which took Jamatis head on in the politics of student colleges in this city and started representing the many unrepresented small migrant communities across this city. This man was Altaf Hussain and whether one likes him or not, agrees with his methods or not one has to give credit to the man who stood up in the face of decades of tyranny without any support or political backing to lean upon. Yes Altaf Hussains parents were not politicians or landowners or even ex generals, they were just ordinary people. This is what the man represented and thus he became the voice of “ordinary” citizens of this city, those that were always silenced for the benefit of a few.
After its establishment on June 11 1978, APMSO spread like wildfire across this city, and when it was forced out of Karachi university by the militant wing of Jamat E Islami “Islami Jammiat Tulba (jammiat)” it shifted its office to a small 120 yards house in Azizabad which would later become the famous symbolic headquarters and actual residence of their leader namely 90. Incidentally “Jamiat” goons are the same ones which beat up Imran Khan not so long ago, yet we see him leading Long marches with their leadership while blaming MQM for anything and everything under the sun. By the way the mythical name 90 is not because of some kind of mafia like tradition but the simple end of the phone number of this residence, which was 631690, and is now 6313690, feel free to call and confirm 🙂
Gradually over the years APMSO started contesting in elections through local leadership and in spite of the many many attempts of the establishment grew in power to morph into MQM which later on took the name of Mutahhida Qaumi Movement with its white red and green flag and 5 stars on its logo to represent that there were not only 4 ethnic communities in this country but a fifth one which would no longer stay silent.
Today, one cannot form a government in this province of Sindh without MQM, such is its power and contrary to what people think this is not the power of anything else but work, and tremendous work that this party has done for its voters. MQM boasts a voting crown which is the most literate and the most active. It is no small feat that every time there is an election MQM sweeps across most of its constituencies and wins landslide victories from this province, my own family voted for this party in the last election and the one before that as well and its not because we were forced to.
Often in discussions I come across today the name of this party is held synonymous with what happened on 12th May. However there is an alternative side to that story as well, a camera angle which shows footage very different from what was shown to us on our media channels., so see and judge for your own self who is responsible for what.
Mqm’s journey has been one encompassing 31 years and obviously I cannot hope to gain the insight required to analyze it properly in such a short time. However I have had the opportunity to contact some members of this Party in the last week and all the info in this article is a result of their open mindedness and facilitation. I say open mindedness because normally one hears that the moment you talk about writing on this subject you are threatened into submission. Instead of threats all I have come across are people with open hearts and minds, patriotic and educated, willing to do anything for this country and city to help it grow and I am not surprised as I have often found living in this country that truth is stranger than fiction
We often tend to believe things as they are shown to us in the media or told to us by so and so who’s got an important source in “some” office, I think its about time we stop believing in this bullshit and actually talk to the people involved to get the right picture, which I hope I have been able to present somewhat above. As a curious mind however I now have a lot of questions for the detractors of this party and will hope to interview some of them next in my attempt to provide something different to my readers. I shall leave you with the following thoughts.
- Why is Altaf hussain who has never held a single political office in Pakistan accused of being power hungry?
- Why is the notion of Jinnahpur associated with this party all the time when having all the resources and people power in their position they could have started a separation struggle for this city long ago but never did?
- Why is the only party which gives a chance to every member of this city from any background to join it and wins them seats in assemblies described as the hegemony of a few? Case in point who was Mustufa Kamal, ever seen someone like him come into power from another political party in Pakistan?
I thank Ali Raza Abidi, Ali.K Chisti and Aeyaz Hasan for giving me the information and insight needed for this piece.