MQM jumps ship!

Published: December 29, 2010
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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

Sadaf Khan

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

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