Ever since the Mustafa Kamal press conference, a number of reporters and so-called political “analysts” have been increasingly blaming Pervez Musharraf for all the alleged undertakings conducted by the MQM in Karachi. Most allegations can be refuted just by using commonsense and some are even downright silly to say the least.
TTP nominee for negotiations Mr. Ansar Abbasi, has come out with an article in which he heaps multiple accusations against Pervez Musharraf. The allegations are presented as “facts” and no attempt is made to advance arguments to substantiate them. (See his http://e.jang.com.pk/03-09-2016/arachi/pic.asp?picname=01_28.gif )
Here I list his main claims, followed by a response.
Allegation 1: under Musharraf the military establishment did everything to strengthen MQM.
Response: Under Musharraf, MQM achieved victory in elections, just as they won elections after Musharraf’s resignation and just as they had won elections long before Musharraf came to power. Whether one likes it or not, MQM is a popular party and people have overwhelmingly voted for it. It does not follow that Musharraf “strengthened” MQM just because people chose to vote for the latter.
Allegation 2: Intelligence agencies were aware that MQM was involved in violence and terrorism. They questioned the patriotism of its leader and knew that MQM had contacts with RAW. The military establishment turned a blind eye to this and gave MQM a free hand, allowing it to strengthen and spread its militant wing.
Response: The actual FACT of the matter is that under Musharraf, Karachi saw the much needed peace. Violence drastically reduced. Large scale development took place throughout the city. The situation was improving. In other words, Musharraf dealt with the MQM and other parties smartly. They were not “permitted” to engage in violence. The ground reality is that MQM exists and was a large scale party long before Musharraf’s arrival. It was already the strongest party in Karachi. Musharraf, much like Kiyani and now Raheel Sharif, could not just “eliminate” the MQM. The only way forward was (and is) to accept its existence and to work in such a way which leads to order, peace and prosperity. Thus the allegations about MQM’s connections with RAW, even if true, are ultimately irrelevant because one is still required to live with the reality of the MQM and work with it. Under Musharraf, the MQM entered mainstream politics and had to shun violence. Further, it was ensured that they would, this time around, work to improve the city. Indeed, we know that this happened and Karachi immensely benefited in this Musharraf era.
Allegation 3: Every government in the 90s conducted operations against the MQM. Under Musharraf, MQM gained far more than what it had lost due to the actions of the previous governments.
Response: The 90s was the most violent period in Karachi. The operation against the MQM resulted in the loss of hundreds if not thousands of lives. The intensity of the violence increased as the operation went on. The city came to an abrupt halt. There was no development whatsoever, only chaos and fighting. This was a dismal and a dark period, with a large number of people migrating from Karachi to other countries. Is this what Ansar Abbasi desires? In short, the operations against the MQM prior to Musharraf simply gave it even more sympathizers. The operation of the 90s turned out to be a failure. Musharraf, in sharp contrast to the previous regimes, intelligently dealt with the situation by bringing the killings and mayhem to a stop. Thus, Musharraf’s 9 years were the most peaceful and most beneficial for Karachi and its residents.
Allegation 4: A man involved in many criminal activities and wanted by the courts became the Governor of Karachi.
Response: Ishratul Ibad continued to be the Governor of Sindh under the PPPP and, now, the PML-N regimes. He continues to be the Governor even though Raheel Sharif is the current Army Chief. Therefore, if Raheel Sharif and the decision makers of PPPP and PMLN are supposed to be nationalists, in contrast to Musharraf, then why have they recognised Ishratul Ibad as the Governor? If the Pakistani courts are free now that Musharraf is no longer in power, then why don’t they take action against Ishratul Ibad? The answer is simple: there are allegations against Ishratul Ibad. Nothing has been “proven” as of yet. It is unfair to blame Musharraf for this when we know that Ishratul Ibad has continued to serve as the Governor now that Musharraf has been out of power for around 8 years!
Allegation 5: The Military government allowed MQM to manage the affairs of Karachi.
Response: First, there was no “Military Government.” It was a civilian set up. Secondly, the sole reason why MQM attained the right to manage the affairs of Karachi was because they won elections. They were elected by the people.
Allegation 6: The Interior Ministry was given to the MQM. This they used to protect their workers.
Response: If true, then MQM alone is responsible for this misuse of power and the courts should investigate this matter. The question remains, why have all governments since 2008 remained silent over this matter?
Allegation 7: Several police officers involved in the anti-MQM operation of the 90s under the leadership of Naseerullah Babar were murdered one by one.
Response: Now that Musharraf has been out of power for 8 years, why is no government and court prepared to thoroughly investigate this matter and punish the guilty individuals? Is Musharraf controlling the PML-N government, the courts and Raheel Sharif?
Allegation 8: On 12/05/07 when dozens were killed in Karachi, Pervez Musharraf addressed a gathering in Islamabad and, whilst waving his fist, told the crowd that his opponents had seen his power.
Response: This is an absurd attempt to blame Musharraf for the happenings in Karachi on this date. Three political parties were involved in violence: PPPP, ANP and the MQM. Old political rivalries flared up and they attacked each other, leading to a loss of life. Musharraf was simply addressing a gathering in Islamabad and was referring to the people who had stepped out to support him. Musharraf was making no reference to the bloodshed that took place in Karachi.
Allegation 9: The NRO proved helpful in getting rid of serious allegations against the MQM.
Response: This is correct and Musharraf has already stated that he made a mistake in this regard. But to put this in perspective, the NRO was the suggestion of the PML-Q. Their rationale was that for decades the courts were unable to sort out the mess. Hence, the best way forward was suggested to be the removal of all cases, reconciliation and a fresh start. Musharraf opposed this suggestion but eventually came to accept this viewpoint. Thus, the NRO was meant to benefit not only MQM, but others as well, such as the PPPP. Be that as it may, Musharraf has acknowledged his error. Yet the fact remains that had our courts been strong, the suggestion of the NRO would never have surfaced.
Allegation 10: Altaf Husain travelled to India and delivered an anti-Pakistan speech. His address was not condemned and neither was MQM removed from the government.
Response: This is a silly charge. Altaf Husain is a British citizen and no Pakistani regime can prevent a British citizen from travelling to another country and from delivering any type of speech. Understandably, the government acted smartly for the greater good: peace, security and the development of Karachi. Moreover, now that Musharraf has been out of power for the past 8 years, why did the PPPP cooperate with the MQM? Why does the present regime tolerate MQM’s presence in politics? Why did Kiyani tolerate the MQM? Why does Raheel Sharif continue to be at peace with the existence of the MQM? Don’t they know about Altaf Husain’s speech? Lastly, if one is to consistently follow Abbasi’s desire, then not only the MQM but equally severe measures need to be taken against the PPPP, PML-N, ANP and the Jamaat because their members and leadership, at one time or another, have strongly abused, maligned and spoken against the Army as an institution and have also spoken against Pakistan. The late Akbar Bugti committed acts of terror in Pakistan and openly expressed his desire to break away from the State. Yet the PML-N labels him a “shaheed” and has spoken in his support. Therefore, Altaf Husain is certainly not unique when it comes to making anti-Pakistan and anti-Army comments.
In conclusion, the policy of the pre-Musharraf regimes, which culminated in a bloody operation in the 90s, destroyed the peace of Karachi and led to unimaginable bloodshed. This gave further strength to the MQM because it now acquired even more diehard supporters who were willing to suffer all for the sake of the Party. The operation caused many to develop anti-Pakistan sentiments. The change of policy under Musharraf resulted in the drastic reduction, if not the complete elimination, of violence and it brought order to a chaotic situation. After a long time people were able to take a breath of peace and benefit from the large scale development desperately required by this city of millions. No party was permitted to spread violence. To attain this, some compromises naturally had to be made. Yet a greater good was achieved as a result.
Abbasi is utterly incapable of grasping this simple reality. His implied solution is unrealistic because the MQM cannot be eliminated through force. History has shown that the Musharraf formula worked for Karachi and his leadership is again direly required to reset the house in order.