MQM jumps ship!

Published: December 29, 2010

Altaf Hussain’s address in Bhit Shah had already hinted towards the party’s intentions. PHOTO: MQM.ORG

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) decision to resign from the Federal Cabinet has once again given rise to speculations about midterm elections and the possibility of an in-house change.

Even though the decision’s timing took me by surprise, it was by no means shocking. Altaf Hussain’s address in Bhit Shah had already hinted towards the party’s intentions and anyone who heard Zulfiqar Mirza’s blatant accusations regarding MQM could have guessed that the statement would not be easily swept under the carpet.

The ever smiling president and the overly conscious Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leaders from the federal capital may have reassured the MQM leaders, but the fact remains that not one word was directly said to Zulfiqar Mirza. Leaving such a matter without an appropriate reaction would have been quite a blow to the MQM.

MQM wants out?

Even though the MQM is still in the coalition and is publicly claiming that the move is not meant to sabotage the government, party leaders have been heard saying that the ministries given to the MQM were impotent, while also expressing serious concerns over the way its advice was being regularly ignored. Their complaints show that the party is all but done with the PPP.

But  it must be noted that PPP officials in Sindh have given provocative statements numerous times in the past and the President did ask them to refrain from such antics in the CEC meeting just yesterday.

What then has prompted the MQM to actually follow through on their threat this time? Was it the timing? Or is it the increasing uncertainty regarding the government’s future?

PPP’s falling reputation

PPP has still not realised that simply soothing party leaders and bragging about Benazir Bhutto’s vision of reconciliation is not enough to hold this government together. The rising inflation, food shortages, energy crisis and the endless stories of corruption have completely wrecked the government’s credibility.

Even though the People’s Party is known for having a cult like vote bank, we have recently seen quite a number of former loyalists of the party making their frustrations public. From Benazir Bhutto’s right hand woman Naheed Khan to an unemployed Jayala, who protested against the party’s inability to perform by bicycling all the way from Larkana to Islamabad, discontent among PPP workers is on the rise.

In a situation like this, the allies cannot be expected to bear the burden of PPP’s unending failures. Even if the midterm election scenario does not play out, the next general elections are just two years away and the only hope for the allies to retain their supporters is to distance themselves from a government whose popularity graph is falling almost as down as General Musharraf’s.

Add that to the political turmoil already brewing within the assembly, it is not difficult to see why the government’s allies are ready to jump ship.

From the tone of MQM leaders one can see that if it weren’t for the situation in Karachi and MQM’s stakes in the Sindh Government, the party would have actually opted out of the coalition instead of simply opting out of the cabinet.

Will Farooq Sattar and Babar Ghauri’s resignation make any difference to the people?

Not likely. But it would definitely win the party support from the masses that are extremely angry about the way this democratic revenge is turning out to be.

The real question is this: When would the parties in the government and the opposition decide to take a stand that means something to the public, instead of playing political games by making symbolic gestures?


Sadaf Khan

A broadcast journalist based in Islamabad who was formerly associated with Geo News and Dunya News. She blogs at

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

  • Saad Durrani

    this democratic revenge is turning out to be

    @Sadaf Khan: That sentence wins. Weak article but the ending sums it up nicely. I am quite amazed that no one has yet offered you to write an op-ed piece. You are my favorite blogger at this site. I hope you get employment somewhere soon.Recommend

  • parvez

    With all that is going on it’s pretty hard to get a clear picture. You have done a great job of trying to explain things. Recommend

  • Hammad Abdul Mateen

    skimmed thru it… very good piece Sadaf!
    ‘The real question’ really does rise in everyone’s mind now. Recommend

  • S. Ali Raza

    Wow.. Sadaf.. didn’t know you had “MQM” in you :) Pleased!

    Not to worry, Nawaz Sharif is going to give a life-line to PPP a promised. Recommend

  • The Only Normal Person Here.

    MQM had to brush off all the mess created by PPP. I think it was the RIGHT time to do so. As with each passing day, PPP is losing its credibility. MQM voters had now begun to question MQM stance, it was much needed decision.In my HUMBLE opinion one of the best decisions taken by MQM.

    PML N again proved that hypocrisy is their middle name. I wonder if PML N would be as keen to save PPP government if MQM had decided to sit in the opposition. It is pretty evident that they are more interested in their power politics than to think about the people of Pakistan.

    Establishment and Army is too patient and taken a back seat to let the people have the taste of democracy, MQM by this bold stance win the hearts of its voter again, PTI and Jamiat is waiting anxiously for the elections–they have high hopes, might win a few seats, PPP is once again doing the politics of victimization and might get successful, PML Q had high number of votes in the last elections and they will continue to have so… the real losers as I see, are the PML N’s ones as they cant join hands with PPP openly and back door politics doesnt work when it is two years to elections. They are frustrated and lost it. They dont know what to do and how to do. They know in the next elections they wont be having the voters of PTI and Jamiat, they have to rely on their own voters which merely comprise of urban and north punjab. They are in a fix. I never knew this day would come but I feel really sympathetic towards them.Recommend

  • Raqib Ali

    I am glad that Nawaz Sharif is giving life line to PPP government.

    Two more years and people will decide fate of Zardari government. It is unfair to give Mr Zardari a clean slate by dissolving his government. If we had let BB & NS complete their tenures, they couldn’t have become ‘innocent victimes’ and there was a chance we could have chosen new leaders.

    Dictators like Musharraf wasted our time and we ended up with same leaders because he made them ‘zero meter’ through NROs etc. Emergence of new leadership got crushed in this process.

    As far MQM, probably we need a new MQM without a foreign national as its chairman. Recommend

  • Yasser

    The credibility and delaying tactics of PPP is in front of everyone, whether we talk about no Finance Minister for one year, delaying local bodies election, neglecting about Land reforms, flop foreign policy, hence MQM has every right to come out of it but it seems MQM has been challenged by another party who is wishing things to continue in same way and that is PMLN. It’s time people understand the policy level of PPP and PMLN.Recommend

  • khurram

    bhai only want to hang in the govt and his loog too…qaum kay behtreen mufaad mai shaitan se bhi baat ki ja sakti hai doctorine… haina :)Recommend

  • Bakka Jee

    Tragedies of Pakistan

    An intelligent Urdu speaking Nation led by Clowns & a Morons.
    Punjab in the hands of a family who lack the intelligence or the wisdom to bring about any meaningful change other then to amass their fortunes to greater heights.
    Pakistan in the hands of carbon copy of fake PPP leaders who can be best described as snobbish, arrogant, bone-headed and incompetent leaders who are more likely to lead us to financial ruins.
    Frontier & Balouchistan are still in the hands of self induligent leaders & destructive forces who have successfully managed to confuse the masses that they are being exploited by other ethnic groups.
    Military Commanders who never fail an opportunity to capitalise politicians mistakes and are unable to distinguish between defending the frontiers vs sitting in Awan Saddar.
    Sorry, but are these not the signs of a failed state ??


  • Hutto

    @Raqib: Solid comments.. Recommend

  • Saad Durrani

    @The Only Normal Person Here.:
    Good analysis. Now I know why you claim to be normal.Recommend

  • Raqib Ali

    No foreign national should be head of ANY party, let alone a revolutionary one!Recommend

  • Imam Kozagar

    @The Only Normal Person Here.:
    Who You r trying to fool, is establishment (or whatever hidden demons) not promoting MQM to jump ship at this moment. MQM can not survive without incubator of GOVT perks.

  • Fizza Hassan

    People do have started realizing that MQM is not just representing Khi but Lahore equally and the stand it has taken, resignations of Dr. Sattar and Ghouri sahab, has earned it respect. But I’m afraid that this phase might end soon. No doubt that MQM has its reservations but PPP is trying to sort things out and if MQM agrees to take its position back claiming that its VOTERS have opted for that then they’ll lose the support they’ve gained. What I see now, it’s not just PML-N who’s in a fix but all the parties. MQM has taken a stand and it’s expected that it won’t be like the kid who smiles wickedly after getting the toy he wanted. Recommend

  • Zeeshan

    As per Mr.Zardari , he would finish his tenure, the next 2 yrs too. for God’s sake what would be left by then , Mr.Sharif can topple the Govt easily , but he is waiting for the two years so that Mr.Zardari could wreck havoc of this country . Confronting MQM for no apparent reason by Mr.Sharif makes everybody wonder what Mr.Sharif is upto ?

    As ususal a very childish behaviour by PML N.Recommend

  • MiP

    MQM has ‘jumped ship’ number of times that defies count … will this be the ‘final and last jump’ or Rehman Malick will ‘fish it’ ( the term that the Pakistani nrespapers use for a drowned human being) OUT and bring aboard yet ONCE AGAIN TOO MANYRecommend