Pakistan: Foreign Media, MQM and 12th May 2007

Pakistan: Foreign Media, MQM and 12th May 2007

ON 12th May 2007 with the help of press & electronic media, the real face of MQM was exposed. Some analysts say that PTI Chairman, Imran Khan’s unsuccessful efforts to try Altaf Hussain in British courts under cross-countries terrorism charges could have barely exposed him than the collective efforts of media, with courageous coverage, had brought in limelight the way Karachi based ethnic group, MQM operates & manhandles its political opponents.



Upon the orders of an army dictator, with complete support from intelligence agencies -once MQM used to blame those for all evils- blocking the arrival of Chief Justice Ifthikhar Chaudhry at Karachi airport had resulted huge political damage for Altaf Hussain. To minimize the damage, MQM had crafted a video presentation to its supporters that other political groups were also involved in this heinous crime of killing innocents, which many reports say that, predominantly committed by hardcore MQM loyalists. Here is a detailed account of events presented by foreign press, stating the activities of MQM on 12th May 2007.


Nicholas Schmidle, the author of Two Tumultuous Years in Pakistan, an upcoming book which will be released on 12th May 2009, in his Dispatch from Karachi writes his account of arrival on 11th May night published by Slate magazine on May 17th 2007:


“I arrived in Karachi at 2 a.m. on Saturday. The MQM had blocked every possible exit and entry point to the airport using shipping containers, buses, and water tankers. There were no taxis. People were sleeping in the terminal, and babies screamed. Food and water supplies at the airport were already running low, 10 hours before the chief justice was expected to land. It seemed entirely possible that these people would be marooned at the airport for a day or two. Fearing that I would be stuck there, too, I shouldered my luggage and headed in the direction of the main road. On the way, a security guard warned me that there was gunfire and burning tires just outside the airport. Karachi is not a city that you walk around on a good day; the prospect of negotiating through an obstacle course of burning tires and armed MQM activists made it seem all the more absurd, but the longer I waited, the tighter the blockade would be. Fortunately, I met a mustachioed man in his 40s along the road who happened to be a police officer. He said he had a jeep, with an armed guard, waiting on the other side of two layers of MQM-arranged cordons. After a few minutes, we reached the jeep and began navigating through back alleys and roads still under construction—any path that the MQM might not yet have blocked. There were no vehicles on the streets other than the commandeered tankers and buses, most of which flew the MQM's tricolor flag. The trip from the airport to the hotel where I was staying typically takes about 15 minutes. I finally checked in at 4:30 a.m.”



“With the MQM in command of every intersection, roundabout, and flyover, any attempt by the opposition parties to greet the chief justice was destined for confrontation. Syed, the Pashtun politician, was trapped, along with a caravan of his party's supporters, beneath a flyover on the main road leading to and from the airport. As gunfire broke out between ANP and MQM activists around 1 p.m., a well-aimed shot, taken from the overpass, smashed the windshield of a red Toyota Land Cruiser Prado with ANP plates, immediately killing a man sitting in the back seat. "They thought I was there," Syed told me two days later. He showed me the bullet recovered from the back seat of the Prado, the same kind of bullet used in the Heckler Koch G3 assault rifle. While Kalashnikovs are common in Pakistani homes, the G3 is not. Shahi said the only people with access to such weapons are the army and intelligence agencies.”


“On Sunday, I asked a police officer if he had received an official order not to intervene in Saturday's street battles. His face bore a shameful expression, and he replied, "No comment."”


“On Tuesday morning, I returned once again to the roundabout where rioters had clashed with the police all day on Sunday. There, I spoke with a pudgy, middle-aged journalist named Rafiq. He told me, "On May 12, the nexus between Musharraf and the MQM was fully exposed. On the other side are the lawyers, journalists, students, traders, Pashtuns, Baluchis, Punjabis, Sindhis, secular parties, religious parties, and nationalist parties. The battle lines are drawn. Who knows where it will end."”


Graham Usher, a former Palestine correspondent for the Economist and the author of Dispatches from Palestine: the Rise and Fall of the Oslo Peace Process, in his article “Musharraf all alone” writes about MQM & the killing on 12th May 2007 published in Al Ahram weekly magazine, Cairo as follows:


“The second image was of the "people's power" lionised by Musharraf. In fact it was the gang violence of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), one of the few mass-based parties in Musharraf's coalition government, whose base is Karachi.”


“On 12 May, MQM gunmen torched buses, blockaded Karachi airport, fired on a TV station and sprayed gunfire on all and sundry not of their allegiance.”


“Although secular in outlook, the muhajirs define themselves as a "nationality" and take a fascist view of all not of their kind, especially those native to Karachi and its Pashtun- dominated neighbourhoods. In 1980s and 1990s the MQM were involved in communal wars in Karachi that left thousands dead. Musharraf is a muhajir, and his clear identification with the MQM in Karachi "has exposed the huge fault-line of ethnicity that divides this country", says analyst Shafqat Mahmoud. "This has huge ramifications because as the self-declared president of Pakistan and also as a never retiring chief of army staff [Musharraf] is supposed to be above any kind of parochial or political considerations."”


A Toronto, Canada based TheStar writes under the article “Bloody riots engulf Karachi” with a reference from Associated Press:


“An AP reporter saw MQM supporters calling for ammunition and firing from buildings, reportedly at opposition supporters…”


Red24, a global security analysis magazine writes in its weekly editorial dated 16th May 2007, “Unrest in Karachi – The beginning of the end for Musharraf?


“… Pakistani security forces did little to intervene when MQM supporters clashed violently, repeatedly and inevitably with pro-Chaudhry anti-Musharraf protesters from the ARD and MMA.”


“The MQM is an aggressive, largely Muhajir pressure group. It has a track record of battling competing ethnic groups, particularly Punjabis and Pashtuns, and was largely responsible for the wave of inter-ethnic rioting and violence that blighted Karachi in the 1980s and 1990s. The movement’s actions on the weekend, where it reportedly began rounding up and executing Pashtuns or Punjabis, will have re-awakened the city's ethnic wounds - reprisal killings and further sectarian violence are now a very real possibility.”

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