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ANALYSIS: Indecent proposal

The MQM has lost all moral ground, if it ever had any, to continue in the assemblies and government. If it has an iota of shame it should resign and give up the power and pelf that it has acquired by running with the hare and hunting with the hound

In the movie ‘Indecent Proposal’ starring Robert Redford and Demi Moore, a loving couple trying to build their dream lives stumble upon bad times and, by a twist of fate, meet a millionaire. In the hope of making it good, the husband (Woody Harrelson) sells his conjugal rights, with the wife’s consent, to the millionaire for a night and ruins their blissful lives.

I suppose you will have guessed what I am alluding to. Yes, to the ‘indecent proposal’ made by Altaf Hussain, the leader of the supposedly secular, middle-class, liberal and democratic MQM to ‘patriotic generals’, offering the conjugal (democratic) rights of the people inhabiting the geographical frontiers of Pakistan. He made no bones about it and brazenly offered for sale something he has no right to whatsoever. He may be entitled to sell the MQM’s conjugal rights, which he willingly, lucratively and frequently does, but has no right to offer selling others into matrimony. He has invited patriotic generals to impose something akin to martial law so that, with the MQM’s collaboration, things can be put right. What cheek!

After this indecent proposal, the MQM has lost all moral ground, if it ever had any, to continue in the assemblies and government. If it has an iota of shame it should resign from the assemblies and the government forthwith and give up the power and pelf that it has acquired by running with the hare and hunting with the hound. But then this free agent has prospered by always providing services to the highest bidder, professed differences notwithstanding. This appeal is a classic example of the MQM’s running with the hare and hunting with the hound policy.

Daily Times’ editorial of August 24th was poignant: “Altaf Hussain, chief of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), has appealed for a ‘martial law-like’ intervention by patriotic generals against corrupt feudals and landlord politicians. Coming from someone whose party is known for its ethnic exclusivism — despite pretending otherwise of late — and various other crimes like land grabbing, bhatta (protection money), torturing and/or murdering dissenters, Mr Hussain’s statement could have been laughed at for its sheer absurdity. The only problem is, this is no laughing matter.”

True, no laughing matter this.

One can only wonder at whose bidding Altaf’s statement has come. Is it the US, the IMF, the World Bank or the generals themselves? And whose goose or gander is to be cooked? Interestingly, there has been no immediate public response from the army. Condemnation has been widespread but support has come from Imran Khan and Pir Pagara.

Tragically, this appeal may find takers in the ranks of pivotal members of the establishment and tempt them to replace this set-up with another composed of the MQM and other politicians of equally easy virtue. The fact that the politicians are corrupt, inept and self-serving is not a good enough reason to invite ‘patriotic’ generals. Moreover, the MQM has been a part and parcel of the establishment and is, therefore, equally responsible for the present mess. And who decides what patriotism is and who is patriotic? Patriotism’s connotations here differ not only from region to region, party to party, but also from individual to individual, except perhaps in MQM-like organisations that run on fascist principles. Moreover, if the patriotic generals have the right to rule, why should patriotic doctors and teachers not have the same right?

Already a new government of supposedly selfless persons is being touted on the internet. A major cause of concern are the unprincipled and unscrupulous politicians who delight in such mishaps because of lucrative prospects and will overtly or covertly offer their services and encourage the patriotic generals. Such politicians have always abetted in depriving people of their rights and accepted even the most dishonourable arrangement as kosher if it was deemed profitable enough — 1999 being a glaring example.

Musharraf favouring the MQM was understandable but the way the spineless, consensus-driven PPP has been appeasing it is simply unpardonable because it has jeopardised the rights of Sindhis in Sindh like never before. But then the PPP’s singular aim is to stay in power and it is too busy doing this to think about the rights of those it fools with emotional slogans during the elections.

The MQM’s policies are devious, divisive and destructive, as the May 12th, April 9th and recent carnages after the murder of its MPA amply prove. Though always an aggressor, it has adopted the Israeli tactic of presenting itself as a victim. Israel bombards the Palestinians and Lebanese with depleted uranium weapons, cluster and white phosphorus bombs in response to ineffectual rocket attacks and then claims to be a victim of terrorism. The MQM too employs similar strategies to justify its violence in Karachi. The MQM sees urban Sindh as its fiefdom. The IDPs have already been attacked twice there.

Significantly, many nationalists see this indecent proposal as an attempt at a renewal of the nexus between two ethnic groups to dominate the rest. It has been unequivocally condemned by Sindhi and Pashtun leaders, but the Baloch have maintained a meaningful silence, knowing their lot remains the same under all regimes. If the patriotic generals accept this indecent proposal, then there are hard days ahead for the Baloch, Sindhi and Pashtuns in Karachi particularly and in Pakistan generally, because they are considered corrupt, feudal and tribal while the MQM is saintly middle-class.

Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur has an association with the Baloch rights movement going back to the early 1970s. He can be contacted at

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