- MQM ready to disarm its youth if security agencies also raid offices of other political parties
- MQM leaders say playing victim post Rangers’ operation at Nine Zero helped in reuniting astray groups
- MQM Senator Saif alleges Establishment working to make political space for PTI in Karachi
The rank and file of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) seems pretty calm despite its sector and regional offices closed down, operations suspended and thousands of hardcore workers underground in the situation developing following the pre-dawn raid at its headquarters Nine Zero in Karachi, as they believe that they have only been politically affected and the raid could not harm its unity as was the case in 1992 when a rebel group had challenged the authority of party chief Altaf Hussain and had joined the army operation, compelling the major leadership to flee the country under tough situation.
Most of MQM leaders seemed hesitant in making on record comments over the Rangers raid on their party headquarters, however, background interactions with around half a dozen MQM second-tier leaders have revealed that the party leadership seems in no mood to disband its militant wing “until and unless the law enforcement agencies also target militants in the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Awami National Party (ANP), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), and the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)”.
MQM READY TO DISARM?
“Yes, we are ready to disarm our youth if the law enforcement agencies also raid the hideouts of militants in other political parties. However, if the raids are to be conducted only against MQM workers just to push the Urdu speaking people against the wall, we are not going to be bogged down,” an MQM leader told Pakistan Today, adding that MQM was a political reality and it could not be cowed down on mere assumptions of having a militant wing.
“Let me tell you that this witch-hunt against MQM should be stopped or operations should also be conducted at Bilawal House, Godhera and at the residence of Shahi Syed. But if you want to cow down MQM, let me tell you that it is neither 1992 nor it is 1997. So it is better not to target a specific ethnic group,” the MQM leader said, warning the government against political implications of what he called was a party-specific operation.
“While we have officially been warned by intelligence agencies and Sindh Home Ministry of threats from the TTP, how can one assume that we will not take care of our security? When the law enforcement agencies are being attacked by the TTP goons, we have every right to make arrangements for our security,” the MQM leader said.
He said the MQM had always supported the call to disarm militant groups across Karachi and even his party had also submitted a de-weaponisation bill with the National Assembly two years back which was not supported by any political party.
“We are ready to disarm if others do the same. We are ready to make sacrifices if the Establishment has decided to clear the port city of Karachi. But we will not allow the militants of TTP, JI, PPP, Lyari gangsters or the ANP to kill us like sitting ducks,” the official added.
COUNTER NARRATIVE ON RECOVERY OF WEAPONS:
Another MQM leader told Pakistan Today that the weapons recovered during the Nine Zero raid were licensed for which the party had submitted the papers with the Sindh Home Ministry.
Elaborating, the MQM leader said that in wake of TTP threats, MQM had hired the services of a security firm which was actually owned by a worker of the party.
“We had set only one condition to the security firm that since the party headquarters was symbolic, the security firm would have to hire the services of MQM workers because we have faith in them. So the weapons recovered were all licensed while the walkie-talkie sets belonged to the security firm,” the MQM leader added.
Asked to comment on the recovery of the G3 machineguns and US army weapons from Nine Zero, the MQM leader laughed off the argument, saying that since the party had got license for a prohibited bore weapon, there was no difference between a Kalashnikov or G3 rifle.
“You may buy a G3 gun from anywhere in Pakistan. Even you can buy it from Bara or Quetta. It’s not a big deal. Moreover, the US weapons are also available in the market. You name it and you get it,” he added.
‘VICTIM CARD’ PAYING WELL FOR MQM?
Despite the Nine Zero raid and subsequent “media trial” of the party, the MQM leaders believe that their strategy to “play victim” was paying off well.
“Despite all the bad news coming, the good news for the MQM is that our tactic to play a victim card is paying off now, as all those workers who were disenchanted or angry with the party and had become inactive, are returning to the party and are motivated. Moreover, the tough call for the party has also helped all the factions to galvanise their forces. Actually, the raid helped in reuniting the party groups who were earlier involved in internal bickering over petty interests,” the source added.
ARREST OF TARGET KILLERS FROM 90:
The MQM leaders also denied the claims made by some television anchors about the arrest of some “target killers” from Nine Zero or Khurshid Memorial Hall, saying only a “dumb person” would remain inside Azizabad when the Rangers had already informed the MQM about their desire to visit Nine Zero to secure sensitive buildings in the area.
“When the Rangers personnel arrived, Amir Khan came to greet them but could not find them. Later, they went outside and then returned again with some masked men along with them,” an MQM leader said on condition of anonymity.
The official said that Faisal Mota was the only “big fish” arrested by the law enforces but his arrest had not been made from anywhere in Azizabad, whether Nine Zero or Khurshid Memorial Hall.
“I challenge those anchors who are drumming anti-MQM propaganda to show any footage about the arrest of Faisal Mota from Nine Zero or Khurshid Memorial Hall. Mota might have been taken into custody from anywhere else and now it is being claimed that he was arrested from Nine Zero,” the official said.
He added that only Farhan Mullah and another one was taken into custody from Khurshid Hall. Both have been convicted by courts and both had been set free from prison after completing their terms, the source added.
“Obaid K-2 was not arrested from Khurshid Memorial Hall. Rather he was taken into custody from his home in Azizabad which is far away from Nine Zero. He has also been released after completing his punishment and there was no case against him when arrested,” the source added.
POLITICAL ENGINEERING IN THE MAKING?
Talking to Pakistan Today, MQM Senator Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif said that the MQM-specific operation had compelled his party leadership to believe the accusations that some elements among the Khakis were manoeuvring to create political space for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
“Due to the MQM-specific operation, we are compelled to endorse the accusations levelled by some PML-N ministers during last year’s sit-in by PTI. We think that some forces within the Establishment are involved in political engineering to help create space for Imran Khan in Karachi. But let me tell you all that such manoeuvring will fall flat as MQM has roots in the people of Karachi,” observed the MQM leader.
Asked whether or not the MQM would be able to regain its seat vacated for by Nabil Gabol from Azizabad, Barrister Saif said the party will have an easy win in by-election if it decided to contest.
“There was a lot of hue and cry about alleged rigging in 2013 elections. But you saw what happened in by-polls held for four constituencies in Karachi. Though a three-layer security was provided for by-polls and even Rangers personnel were present inside the polling booths, MQM won all four seats. Yes, the slow pace of polling might have decreased the lead enjoyed by MQM leaders in 2013, but the by-polls show how much public support is with us,” he concluded.