Posted on Friday, July 3, 2015
in The Friday Times (Editorial)
Two public confessions are trending. The first is by Tariq Mir, the trusted confidante and accountant of MQM supremo Altaf Hussain, who has admitted before the Metropolitan Police in London that the Indian government has been funneling money to Altaf Hussain and training MQM cadres for terrorism for over two decades. The second is by Imran Khan, the darling of millions, who has finally admitted that the allegation of “35 punctures” hurled relentlessly against Najam Sethi is politically motivated and not a fact, hence baseless.
Tariq Mir has confessed that that over the years Altaf Hussain has received millions via bank transfers from Indian agents in Dubai. He has also detailed clandestine trips by Altaf Hussain and a coterie of confidantes, including Mir himself, to various destinations in Europe to meet with Indian agents to collect funds and exchange mutual briefings. He has provided details of weapons and military training of MQM cadres in India with the sanction of Altaf Hussain. The confession forms part of the investigation by the British authorities into alleged money laundering by Altaf Hussain and his associates.
Tariq Mir’s “mea culpa” follows on the heels of a highly credible report by BBC that RAW has been funding the MQM. Earlier, similar confessions by convicted MQM terrorist Saulat Mirza and other arrested MQM terrorists in Karachi compelled the Army Chief, General Raheel Sharif, to publicly charge RAW with destabilizing Pakistan in Karachi and Balochistan, an unprecedented remark from the highest security official of the country.
Running side by side are investigations into the murder of Dr Imran Farooq in London. After three years, the Pakistan government has finally allowed British authorities to interrogate three murder suspects with MQM links in custody in Pakistan. These revelations suggest that the noose is tightening around Altaf Hussain’s neck. This raises questions about the future of the MQM and its chief.
There is no doubt that Altaf Hussain is no longer one of the country’s most virile political leaders. His writ is diminishing by the day as the MQM’s terrorizing militias are dismantled and degraded by the Rangers in Karachi and key MQM leaders begin to stray, exit or are expelled for one reason or another. Even his rambling and threatening harangues from London are no longer televised routinely. But the decline of Altaf Hussain and the disarray in the MQM because of these new confessions does not necessarily mean that the “Muhajir” sentiment that feeds into the MQM is about to fall into the lap of another political party. “Muhajarism” is a political statement that defends the elitist status quo of “Muhajirs” against “Sindhis” in the echelons of the state and gives them a disproportionately greater share in jobs and resources than the “natives”. It will remain a vital ingredient of Sindh politics long after Altaf Hussain has gone.
The confession on television by Imran Khan before anchor Hamid Mir that the “35 punctures” story alleging that, as caretaker chief minister Punjab, Najam Sethi rigged 35 constituencies in Punjab in favour of the PMLN, is simply political ploy, and therefore baseless, is no less significant. It is part of a series of U-turns that Imran Khan has taken in recent times since his political strategy to short-cut to Islamabad, on the back of allegations that the general elections of 2013 were stolen, has failed to come to fruition. For eighteen months Imran Khan and millions of his passionate supporters, including some television hosts, anchors and commentators, have clung to his utterances and abused Sethi black and blue. But after failing to back up his wild allegations against Sethi in a civil court and then before the Judicial Council in the Supreme Court, Khan has been shown as lying through his teeth to further his naked political ambitions. The fact that the main pegs for his false charge against Sethi – Agha Murtaza Poya and the US Ambassador – have both publicly denied any role in manufacturing this wild allegation has pulled the plank from under Khan’s feet. All this while, Sethi has denied Khan’s charge, taken him to court and persisted stoically in clearing his name.
But the fact is that Imran Khan’s U-turns and blatant lies are beginning to hurt him too and erode his support base. He can fool some of the people some of the time but he can’t fool all the people all the time. The “stolen election” story is beginning to sound like a broken record. Indeed, if any election has been stolen it is the recent Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa local bodies election under the aegis of Imran Khan’s administration.
Both Altaf Hussain and Imran Khan are terrorizing demagogues. This is the hallmark of fascists, not democrats. The tragedy is that the rise of both is owed to the failure of the other “democratic” mainstream parties to deliver. It is also due to the machinations of the military establishment of old to create and nurture state and non-state actors to support misplaced national security policies.