Pakistan’s melting pot and economic backbone, Karachi looked like a ghost town this past Saturday and Monday. The teeming metropolis, the size of a nation-state, came to a halt as the nationalist Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz and the ethnocentric Muttahida Qaumi Movement (despite its claims to the contrary) called for a strike against the influx of internally displaced persons (IDPs) fleeing the Taliban and the ongoing military action in Swat. While the JSQM sees a wave of non-Sindhis’ entry into their province as a design to turn Sindhis into a minority in their own homeland, the MQM fears the entry of Taliban into Karachi under the cover of the IDPs.
In a rare show of solidarity and a combined opposition to any one measure, at least the JSQM came out clean about its concerns regarding the IPDs while the MQM put several spins on its changing stances. It fully backed the strike call for Saturday, but withdrew support for one on Monday after the Sindh government, in which the MQM is a coalition partner with the PPP, was forced to deny that it had stopped the IDPs’ entry into the province.
Then, the MQM said it was not opposed to their coming to Karachi as long as they were kept at camps outside the city. Further from there, the party said it did not oppose the IDPs’ coming into the city to join their family or friends; it just wanted everyone registered so as to screen out the Taliban who may have shaved off their beards to join the ranks of IDPs.
So what’s the whole fuss really about? Was shutting down the city for two days done just for the ruling coalition party to finally clear the mist on what its actual stance vis-à-vis the IPDs is? The irony in the whole sorry matter is that the only ones who could laugh at these shifting sands within the MQM are the Karachi-based Jamaat-i-Islami-wallahs, complete with their beards and other Islamist paraphernalia. The MQM dare not expel the Jamaatis from Karachi. Or can it? They are as ‘mohajir’ in the uncorrupted sense of the word as their newborn, brave, secular counterparts in the MQM since the party underwent a change in name from ‘mohajir’ to ‘muttahida’. There’s room for everyone in a metropolis that prides itself for being a city of immigrants.
In 1947 Sindh welcomed the refugees from India with open arms; thousands of Pakistanis and foreigners of all hues continue to arrive in Karachi to make start a new life here every year. Why shut this magnanimous city’s doors on the hapless IDPs?
The only way I can explain this is by saying our Sindh is not the Sindh we knew anymore; nor is my Karachi my Karachi (I hope ‘muttahida’ remains ‘muttahida’, for that’s the best thing that happened to the MQM in a very long time).
I hope someone rebuffs me for the sake of both Sindh and Karachi.
Source : Murtaza Razvi,Dawn