Stories about Altaf Hussain

How MQM taught me never to lose hope

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 ...

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The day I visited MQM’s Nine Zero

When I told my friends and family that I was going to Nine Zero for a class assignment, their reaction was an odd mix of excitement and trepidation. They were wishing me luck for some odd reason! For those who don’t know what it is, Nine Zero ─ or 90 ─  are the Muttahida Quami Movement’s (MQM) headquarters in Karachi. I wasn’t alone; my classmates and teacher were going with me. I did not understand why everyone was so scared. What was so terrifying about Nine Zero, anyway? Having spent most of my life in Karachi, I have heard the words “Nine Zero” ...

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5 Pakistani men we also envy

Inspired by this bizarre article in The Express Tribune called ‘Five Pakistani women we envy‘ Every man has had a crush on another man at some point in their lives. Before you start beating your breast and wailing “Oh my god, that’s sick”, calm down and take it in the light-hearted spirit in which women are expected to embrace the concept of ‘girl crushes’.  The following five Pakistani men are so fabulous and so amazing that we’d be surprised if you haven’t crushed on them at some point in your life. 1.     Quaid-e-Azam This amazing man created Pakistan and looked totally amazing while ...

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An open letter to Nawaz Sharif

My dear Mian sahib, Once, when George Bush was sitting in his plush chair with lights illuminating every nook and cranny of the White House, he asked Musharraf – yes the one who dethroned you when your delusional state of mind made you believe that you were the next Khalifa of the Ummah (Muslim nation) – a question very similar to the one I have for you today. “Whose side are you on?” “Your side, Mr President,” replied Musharraf, loud and clear without giving it a second thought. I am no George Bush and unlike him, my house is in doom and gloom ...

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When grown men fight, Mirza,our nation dies

Being optimistic is an uphill task in the best of times in our chequered past and present. It takes quite a lot to indulge along the elusive lines of buoyancy and change for the future, considering all the mess we have created for ourselves, right from the political playing field to the murky arena of sports. Recently, my sense of optimism got a stark beating, if not a down-right reality check. A lot has already been written about the tirades of and against Zulfiqar Mirza. Interesting and entertaining at the same time, I never thought that Mirza would help me ...

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Using ‘Altaf Bhai’: The joys of studying politics

Being a student of political science comes with handicaps in a country where debate on current affairs and peccadilloes of politicians is ubiquitous, yet awareness of an academic discipline dedicated to the study of politics is scant. There’s one particular incident at Lahore airport that I vividly remember, when being a student of political science got me entangled in a rather bizarre situation. As I walked inside the international departure terminal, I noticed that yet another security check had been installed. Some men in shalwar kameez stood listlessly, as airport security personnel fiercely rummaged through their luggage. Being a ‘laadiss’ from a ...

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Let’s play: 20 questions for Zulfiqar Mirza

Sindh’s former home minister Zulfiqar Mirza has announced his resignation from the government in yet another media circus. During TV interviews he made personal attacks against journalists and politicians, making references to their facial features and appearance. However, his emotional outburst left lots of questions on the policy of the government unanswered. A few questions I would like to ask Mr Mirza are: 1) If you claim to be so truthful, why have you never made these revelations before? 2) According to you, Rehman Malik does everything on the discretion of President Asif Ali Zardari. Why then is Rehman Malik accused of ...

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Karachi and the failure of Pakistan’s multi-culturalism

The martial tradition of the Pakistani Army failed and the ‘’Islamization’’ drive of Zia which was the martial tradition merging with clerical power also failed . What did these processes fail at? They failed at creating some coherent narrative of Pakistani citizenship that was pluralistic and open enough to absorb the different ethnic, linguistic and indeed tribal affiliations of the Pakistani citizenry. State sponsored Islam (which in itself is quite unprecedented within the body of Islamic history and literature) has not created any form of universal Pakistani citizenship. The Karachi conflict is the result of decades long alienation, mistrust and hatred towards different ...

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MQM in Punjab: Free food, stale agenda

The big MQM jalsa in Lahore was touted as the game changer for the party and the people of Punjab. Roads in the city were lined with billboards as reminders of the rally that would kickstart the “revolution”. The promise was that MQM chief Altaf Hussain’s words would inspire people to stand up against an oppressive two-party political system. But now that the jalsa is over and the reviews are in, it seems that nothing has changed. The only effect of the jalsa on the people of Lahore was that they had to take alternative routes to their destinations as multiple roads were blocked off. Trying and ...

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The ‘revolutions’ of PML-N and MQM

You know your country’s politics is in the dumps when two of the most dictatorial political parties start talking about revolution and then start pointing fingers at each other. I mean – seriously! The audacity with which the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) talk about revolution is simply amazing. And, it’s not as if they are small political parties. The PML-N prides itself as being a national party whereas the MQM is working its way up to becoming one or at least making claims of becoming one. Dynastic party systems The fact is, the PML-N’s internal party ...

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