KARACHI: In the vicinity of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM)’s headquarters Nine-Zero, people these days can be seen busy in their routine matters. There is no sign of any political activity. The shops located near Nine-Zero remain functional while minors could be seen playing in the street once known to be the citadel of the united famous MQM.
A few security personnel are sitting on chairs, on duty to prevent any untoward situation in the area. The fact remains that ever since the events of 2015, Nine-Zero — previously a hive of activity — remains subdued.
Barriers were erected in and around the vicinity leading towards the Muttahida headquarters, a few hundred metres away from Mukka Chowk. This chowk reflected the influence of the MQM and often featured in different photos symbolising the political party.
It is hard to imagine that this was the area of an organisation that dominated Karachi’s political landscape for at least three decades. Under the party’s rule, citizens of Karachi often recall their powerlessness when they were taught not to enter the Nine-Zero premises as every nook and corner of the locality was reportedly guarded by MQM activists or ‘volunteers’.
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Permission of these party activists needed to be secured if someone wanted to visit the Khursheed Begum Hall named after MQM founder Altaf Hussain’s mother.
During the visit to the area, a local told Bol News that the re-emergence of another group of MQM under the supervision of former Sindh governor Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan and Dr Farooq Sattar was simply a political gimmick.
Another local, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that “MQM without Altaf Hussain is nothing and any development without the MQM leader is meaningless.”
A former activist from Gulistan-i-Jauhar remarked that the upcoming move towards establishing the party was dubious and it will turn out be another faction of MQM like ‘MQM Bahadurabad’ or ‘MQM Haqiqi.’
He added that no party activist would accept the new political party even if it included Afaq Ahmed or if it united all other MQM factions.
“Dr Ibad has good connections with the institutions and may have tried to douse the fire between the MQM leader and the political leadership. However, we as citizens who were cut out from the political process are simply unsure of what is really going on,” observed the MQM supporter.
What is on the surface?
Although the political bigwigs of different factions of MQM also declined to comment over the recent developments in Karachi’s politics, Dr Sattar and Dr Ibad met in Dubai recently and agreed to move past all previous differences and progress forward on the political front.
A spokesperson for the MQM’s Afaq faction said that “in recent developments, whatever happens for the betterment of the city would be appreciated but at this time, we are helpless to confirm anything regarding the city’s political situation.”
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Similar words were narrated by an MQM Bahadurabad leader who wished not to be named.
“It is premature to say anything at this time and we are not aware of what is happening either,” he added.
What do MQM activists believe?
A former MQM senior party activist, who left the party to start his private business, stated that he endorsed the idea of redeveloping the party but only once its leaders were given permission to participate in the city’s politics.
He commented, “They will not grant permission to Altaf Hussain to deliver a speech, so why do people accept another political front? Neither the MQM leader nor their supporters ask permission for speeches as it is the digital age and everyone is making contacts around the city through social media platforms.”
He further said, “These people are nothing without the MQM leader. Nowadays, Karachi is on the verge of collapse. The city is dying and they are just trying to distract the people by announcing a new faction of MQM.”
He claimed that among other political leaders, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui was the most respected leader of MQM and he was not involved in this matter. “So can we say it is just rumours that has created hype about an MQM revival.”
He revealed that MQM offices in different areas were being opened where people were asked to report and leave other factions of MQM.
Reportedly, Dr Ibad in his speech in Dubai said that there was a need to put bitter memories of the past behind and move forward together for national interest