How MQM taught me never to lose hope

Published: April 27, 2013

The cowards cannot prevail over the liberal forces in Pakistan through their cowardly acts. PHOTO: MOHAMMAD NOMAN / EXPRESS

On Thursday evening, April 25, 2013, while driving past a congested locality, I was jolted by the deafening sound of an explosion. I lost control over the car and hit the footpath. There was panic everywhere as people ran for cover.

By the time I regained my senses, the atmosphere was filled with the siren of rescue vehicles. Everyone was running in the direction of the explosion.

The site of the explosion was an election office of the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) in Nusrat Bhutto Colony, Karachi. The office and the shops adjoining it were completely destroyed; there was blood all over the place, with limbs scattered everywhere and a severed head lying in a corner. Several people were said to be killed and many were injured.

The terrorists on their part had made a perfectly executed sinister plan. The MQM, being the most popular political party of the metropolis, attracts a huge number of general public to its election camps. As the elections draw close, the atmosphere around election offices and camps present a carnival-like look, with women wearing party flag-coloured bangles and dupattas and kids wearing party flag-coloured caps. Thankfully, the office was closed at the time of the explosion; had the office been open, the casualties could have been worse.

What I saw may not be an unusual sight for many, for we, as a nation, have gotten used to bomb blasts and terrorist attacks, but what I witnessed during and after the rescue work was unbelievable – something which shook me to my core.

It is human nature to be scared or at least be shaken witnessing such horrific scenes. But amazingly some MQM workers started chanting slogans, resolving not to bow in front of terrorists, and resolving to lay down their lives for the cause of their leader. Their pitch got higher and higher. Gradually more people joined in and soon the atmosphere was so charged that the fear I was feeling vanished altogether.

The whole episode taught me an important lesson. I witnessed a practical example of how the resolve of a few people can raise the spirits of a larger group.

The brave and dedicated workers of the MQM, despite being constantly under threat from Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and despite losing their fellow workers every day, exhibited remarkable resilience. Not that their resolve was under any doubt, for since inception, this party and its dedicated workers have proved umpteen times that they know the art and science of remaining steadfast.

Honestly speaking, after the repeated attacks on liberal political parties in Pakistan, I, despite being an optimist, had started losing hope for our country. But the enthusiasm of those MQM workers rekindled hope in me.

I am sure that this is not the end for us; there is still hope. The cowards cannot prevail over the liberal forces in Pakistan through their cowardly acts. No matter how much they connive with the ‘champions of justice’ and notorious sectarian outfits, the political parties supported by TTP and TTP itself can not deter us Pakistanis.

Pakistanis will not stay away from the general elections. They can kill us but cannot kill our spirit. I will not let Pakistan die; we will not let Pakistan die.


Syed Arsalan Riyasat

Syed Arsalan Riyasat

An MBA graduate associated with a local bank. His interests include politics, economics, capital markets, international affairs, history and sports. He tweets @arsalanriyasat (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Bilal Khan

    It’s a battle between ethnic and religious terrorists.There are no good guys in this fight.Let’s not try to make victims out of the racists.Recommend

  • Yasir

    Well done for speaking the truthRecommend

  • Ovais

    and how we make heroes in the dark as those who spread hate and ethnic violence whether it be anp ppp or mqm are loved … its time karachi decides to become peacefull .Vote for IKRecommend

  • Hassan

    There is only MQM, it has defined our lives, made us into who we are today. Aptly summed up in last sentence

    “We will not let Pakistan die”Recommend

  • Sane

    This is witnessed not only with MQM but in all incidents whether in Karachi or any party of the country. Pakistanis are brave nations they will not submit to TTP or any other terrorist groups which are sent by neighboring countries.Recommend

  • Sane


    Vote for IK

    IK (Imran Khan) first need to correct his language. The way he speaks in public rallies shows his immaturity and give a street boy impression. Should the to-be PM of Pakistan (if happens so) should use this kind of language? We are ashamed as what type of people we are hoping to.Recommend

  • Karachi wala

    The day IK condemns tribal terrorists and doesn’t become an apologist. The day he unequivocally declares them as fascists. The day he gives tickets excluding Ali Zaidi and Arif Alvi, tickets to locals for all Karachi seats. You and me know Arif Alvi’s ticket is just a PR exercise. If i were u i would give arif alvi sahab an opportunity to run from Mianwali. IK counter terrorism policy is flawed. Naya Pakistan slogan might be nice but practically is required which isn’t there. Though respecting IK in every-way he had said in an interview “the day i start condemning them they would target me” Leaders shouldn’t be scared!

    Excluding CT policy otherwise MQM and PTI have alot in common they should ally themselves.Recommend

  • Maher

    @ Author…. And how can you be sure that the blasts were not exploded by own party?Recommend

  • jimmy tha jamica.

    karachi became a worst place to live in the world and the reason is these libral politics and
    and since 1980 to today thousand of peoples got killed and economy distroyed and many peoples even urdu speaker left this great mai kalanchi city just because of libral politics tuf…
    tumhari sooch per.Recommend

  • Abdul Haseeb Shaikh

    Please google GEORGE GALLOWAY- a British Politician, author and journalist who lambasted MQM in 2011. Recommend

  • http://Leeds Ash

    Excellent piece of article, shows how MQM stands strong against these terrorists. My vote is for MQM this time.

    @Maher – I pity your thoughts, people like you are the reason why Pakistan is at this stage!Recommend

  • Hamood ur Rahman

    We won’t bow down against these terrorists ever inshaAllah

    Well done mqm…Recommend

  • Gul Khan Momand

    I wonder why Waziristan is called the most dangerous place on earth and why not Karachi? FATA where there is no police station, in contrary, Karachi has dozens of police stations along with thousands of rangers deployed in.
    Finally, the author said, “Pakistanis will not stay away from the general elections.”
    but these attacks are not new, it has been in Karachi for a decade or even more.Recommend

  • Sal;man

    Thank you for writing this. MQM is only hope of 98% people of PakistanRecommend

  • fus

    The comments just show how much people can become blind in hatred. For people who dont care about the pople of Karachi and live outside of this greatest city in Pakistan, MQM has large following in this city and most of them are more ecucated then that the people who post comments here. The sad part is that these people who dont care about this city and dont know history of MQM or Urban SIndh would make comments that just show there biasness and level of care.
    @jimmy tha jamica – it was not Liberal parties that introduced hatred but Zia-ul-Haq who started gradual punjabization and islamization of whole Pakistan and particularly Sindh and also started ethinic conflicts.
    @Maher- Just shows your love for “love” for Humanity. Sad, even when we have major enemies like Taliban and religious extremists, this is the comment you can come up with.

    The MQM contender from Hyderbad who was cowardly killed belonged to Pakhtoon community, 2-3 weeks before that two MQM workers in hyderabad that were killed outside the unit office were native Sindhis. Beside many other from all ethincities have been killed because they were part of MQM and still many are part of MQM. Atleast MQM is not coward like you or your leaders who live in Palaces and have army of guards. MQM leaders are accessible, are from the people, with the people and for the people. This is the mentality that makes us vote for MQM. MQM may not be an angels, but treat them with respect you will get respect, but if you try to be a thug like Zulfiqar Mirza then dont expect people of Karachi or MQM to sit quietly. Recommend

  • Morons

    It pains my heart whenever anyone says that a party is self-inflicting to gain popularity. It shows how apthetic we have become towards humanity. The article might be favoring MQM but we as a nation needs to think what is the cause of terrorism keeping aside all differences.

    What are the demands of the terrorists?? If IK says their demand is to stop American drones, then he might have been correct 5 years back, but now the TTP have an agenda to enforce their religion on the nation. Even if America withdraws in 2014, the TTP will not withdraw. The day IK identifies the requirement to stop TTP by force, he will be on their hit list. So, we all need to voice out this concern to PTI and other parties.Recommend

  • Kir

    I have never been a MQM supporter or voter and this year had made up my mind to vote for PTI. But after witnessing the courage of an under attack MQM – I now think it my religious duty to vote for MQM and defeat the designs of these repressive forces.

    I now honestly believe that a vote against MQM or ANP is a vote for TTP.Recommend

  • Adil Uddin

    I am also an Urdu Speaking but support PTI. At one point of my life, I did have sympathy and support for MQM and I continue to appreciate few of their steps and stands. The problem with MQM is their distortion of facts and history, plus the way they over exaggerate certain things. It’s not hard to find many MQM supporters cursing and abusing people of other ethnic groups with offensive words on different websites. It makes sense the way they talk about vision of Quaid-e-Azam and middle class empowerment; but are there just tribal societies and feudal monarchies all over Pakistan beyond Karachi? Are all people of other ethnic groups illiterate?
    MQM talks about victimization and oppression but in reality they themselves injected a strange mixture of superiority and inferiority complex, hatred and fear among an entire generation of Urdu Speakings.

    Take Taliban’s case for instance, I am not sure if they have got any support anywhere among the masses of FATA, KP or Afghanistan; since statements of Dr. Zakir Naik and Yvonne Ridley about them also let one to receive second thoughts. Naik is considered as an honourable figure in the Muslim World.
    But MQM pretends as if they are the only ones on the hit list of Talibans. Moreover they often say that Talibans are coming simply to commit genocide of Muhajirs in Karachi, so what about Pakistanis who got killed in Punjab and other areas of Pakistan? MQM likes to give ethnic colour to every issue. They even mixed ANP,Pashtuns and Talibans together, displaying that Talibans and Pashtuns/Pashtun nationalism are the same thing or Talibanization has its roots among Pashtun culture or Pashtunwali code. They have got no idea about the background, culture and civilization of other ethnicities or they don’t want their supporters and lovers to know about it. Pashtunwali is a code which our Pashtun brothers have been following for over 2500 years and it has got nothing to do with religious fanaticism or oppression of women. MQM simply wants to ignore how Pashtuns living on both sides of the Pak-Afghan border underwent a social disaster during 1980s due to United States’ imperial game, so that they(MQM) can keep on gathering sympathy and igniting hatred and fear.

    I guess they still need to reconcile and confess that they mislead their voters and supporters for over 3 decades.Recommend

  • Omer

    @ Sane
    What about the language of Nawaz Shariff. He called IK Zani Khan, Taliban Khan. IK just said him Jackal, whats wrong with that. You guys are too biased towards your own party. First teach your party some manners.Recommend

  • Shahid


    Totally agree with you. This is not election but selection….Recommend

  • HSM

    “…some MQM workers started chanting slogans, resolving not to bow in front of terrorists, and resolving to lay down their lives for the cause of their leader.”

    Cause? Leader? The same leader who’s been sitting in London safely for the last three decades. There is nothing brave about dying like that; it’s plain stupidity. These people do not value their lives; sacrificing them for their indifferent ‘leaders.Recommend

  • Zohaib

    MQM is a best party, they are secular and have delivered in karachi, while PTI, PMLN and JI are just representing right wing that will eventually destroy pakistanRecommend

  • Dodo

    Your cynicism and inhuman comment is shameful. There was loss of life there.
    And the little detail that the TTP accepted responsibilitiy.

    @ET Comment Editor
    I know it has been busy but can we be a bit more proactive here?Recommend

  • F A M

    Karachi witnessed increase in target killing, forceful youm e sog & street crimes during last 5 years of MQM rule. I understand MQM is good political party but it’s failed to bring peace in Karachi. This time I’ll not vote for MQM because I want stable Karachi. MQM should take notice that these youm e sog only adding burden to economy. Peshawar is having similar situation on political parties but I never witnessed youm e sog there. I believe this is due to unavailability of MQM in Peshawar. This is humble request to MQM supporters to focus economical issues of Pakistan instead of forceful shut down of Karachi.Recommend

  • saqib

    Good Blog, Long Live MQM. Recommend

  • Perhi Likhi Jaahil

    @Hassan: if only the leader had the courage to be in the country he wants to controlRecommend

  • Perhi Likhi Jaahil

    @fus: MQM leader is in London. Enough said.Recommend

  • وشال نین

    @Bilal Khan:
    This is a battle between the light and darkness, good and evil, virtue and sin, …. Those who favor and support MQM are light, good and virtue side. And those who favor and support Taliban and their supporters are darkness, evil and sin . Recommend

  • Tahir Zain

    The more they attack. The more our courage. i at least will vote for the MQM. i was not going to but after the blasts yes. Recommend

  • Parvez

    I found your thoughts to be somewhat simple, for you either there is a black or a white, you do not accept that there could also be a grey.
    The brave face of the MQM worker is undoubtedly visible for all to see, but the true face of the leadership is not clear. Five years of supporting a decidedly corrupt government under any pretext is hard to swallow.Recommend

  • jimmy tha jamaica

    Gen zia ulhaq made mqm too if u remeber against the ppp. and i think those dictators are cause of all trouble with right and left exremist.Recommend

  • Syed Talal Haider Zaidi

    Syed Arsalan Riyasat: i salute you for speaking the truth.Recommend

  • Ali Mustafa

    Slogan : Quaid kay farman pe jaan bhi qurban is no joke , its a reality. We the workers of Quaid Altaf Hussain bhai will keep our struggle on and intact .Recommend

  • Pakistan

    @Bilal Khan:
    Shame in your thoughts, simply.Recommend

  • omg

    if my previous doesnt get posted, then it means that your biases are with MQM so please post my comment if you are neutralRecommend

  • Baffled

    To all my Urdu speaking brothers who are so “annoyed ” with MQM and dying to embrace IK .OK lets have the litmus test .Ask IK to condemn the brute force who are behind the bombings .Lets check his seriousness .

    All he came up with a statement to the terrorists pleading them ” to allow all political parties to conduct election campaign for these last few days ”

    The words are so carefully chosen that even a child understands the double entrande .

    So let us be realistic and test the hypothesis :

    Imran wins .
    Withdraws army from Waziristan and Swat .
    All terrorists pour out and come to the “right” place ,ie Karachi .
    from Golimar to Defence it will be Infestation .( presuming you live in between )

    And then ……………………………..

    I would love to see your faces then ………………………..Recommend

  • Intelektual

    Coz there is another party actively assuming responsibility for it ! Along with threats to continue !
    What sureties or even grounds do u have to question the injured party !!Recommend

  • Intelektual

    @Adil Uddin:
    “The problem with MQM is their distortion of facts and history, plus the way they over exaggerate certain things” Kindly quote examples !
    “Are all people of other ethnic groups illiterate?” Please justify ur exaggerated claim !
    Party worker and ppl endorsing MQM what ever they say in their personal capacity how is that a Party’s menifesto ??
    MQM struggling to go to Punjab and beyond is proof that MQM does not think nyone inferior !
    ” Talibans are coming simply to commit genocide of Muhajirs ” When did MQM say that ANP (formerly the biggest supporter of TTP) and PPP are also active targets ! Wath news Altaf talked to Mr Wali & Zardari !!!
    Their was a Jalsa just for Pushtoon ppl every 1 is endorsed ! Not once was any ethnic group discussed or named individually unless there was a external event that isolated them !
    U r da one exaggerating assuming and reaching ur own conclusions based on limited personal experiances No Wonder u support PTI !
    BTW wats PTI stance over the TTP !!Recommend

  • Safi Faruqi

    Ppl from defense living in big bungalows and polished cars dont know why carry so much hate against mqm..i have been to several offices of various different parties since coming back to pakistan, and my unbiased conclusion is that mqm is the most organized. Ethnic violence is a label u guys put on them..when Altaf hussain was complaining about TTP gaining strength in Khi nobody believed him. Well enjoy the violence now…Recommend

  • Intelektual

    @Adil Uddin:
    When and in What words did MQM blamed or criticized the Pushtoon Culture?
    Yes ANP is a nationalist party with support only in Pushtoon circles ! Yes ANP was the biggest political supporter of TTP ! These facts are where the MQM point of view ends and apprantly from where your assumptions begin !
    No liberal party is fool enough to criticize a whole Culture that wud result in less votes from all its ethnic supports unless you are drunk Mr M.
    As far as freedom of women is concerned MQM has a very active women wing and they cannot endorse oppression of women even if it is based on 2500 year old customs ! Education and basic rights for women everywhere !Recommend

  • Maxwood


    Now this is the truth, which we ALL LIVING beings of Pakistan can not dare to speakRecommend

  • Maxwood


    What a fuss. we are yawing Recommend

  • Baffled

    @Maxwood and Maher & Co.

    Yawn on for eternity dudes . PTI will be another storm in the tea cup and will loose big time InshaAllah ,all over Pakistan .

    The way Mr.Imran Khan slings mud to his opponents is shameful .No wonder like leader like followers .Recommend

  • Omer

    @Maher: So sad my friend.Recommend

  • Rationalist

    @ Adil Uddin

    Good to read a sensible and just comment with objectively analysing the situation.

    The only trouble with Pakistan, and the rest of the world for that matter, is that people in power (from any ethnicity or religious background) suppress those who are not in power (rich exploiting the poor). Altaf Hussain and MQM have twisted this simple philosophy to their own gains by exploting the ethnicity of mohajirs. No ethnic cleansing of mohajirs is being performed and neither are they being suppressed for their rights, rather everyone in this country belonging to the underpriviliged class is a target of corruption. What about the atrocities in balochistan and interior sind, punjab and khyber pukhtoonkhwa?Recommend

  • Rizwan Haider

    Great Job. The writer has hit the bull’s eye. It is we the people who have to stand up against religious extremists. How long will liberal political parties will fight for us? we have to stand behind liberal forces.Recommend

  • Ammad Hafeez

    Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has been facing victimization since its birth and workers/supporters are sacrificing their lives. But we will not surrender, MQM will fight back and won’t bow down. Insha Allah.Recommend

  • Rashid

    @Bilal Khan

    Utter nonsense…. they are much less racist than you..Recommend

  • Asjad

    Lets keep blaming the victims as the monsters…the more they accuse a normal Karachite of being a terrorist, the more it shall vote and support MQM. Recommend

  • Xasir

    Muhajir qaumi movement is my lifeRecommend

  • zehra

    i was planning ot change and vote for Imran khan but i cant vote for someone who can only malign polictcal leaders, not speak of own mandate rather jest at others and more importantly not condemn TTP, LEJ, ASWJ and maintain contacts with LEJ !corrupt but anti TTp are better than taliban apologists Recommend

  • Su!gener!S

    since TTP has confessed for the blasts, your comment is proved to be complete nonsense.Recommend