WEB DESK: In the speech he delivered to his party workers on Monday, MQM supremo Altaf Hussain surpassed his own record of making the most incendiary political speeches.
He has been saying nasty things about the country before, which in fact is why the Lahore High Court restricted the media from publishing his photos and broadcasting his speeches or statements.
But what he said and did at his Monday’s address to party workers was beyond limit. This time he treaded in a minefield of sensitivities making spiteful remarks against Pakistan, also inciting violence against some media houses, DG Sindh Rangers as well as the provincial government. Like so many times before, it did not take long for him to apologise for “my remarks against Pakistan, the Establishment, including General Raheel Sharif and DG Rangers.” But the offence – actually offences – was too serious for forgiveness.
Pakistan, he had said,” is a cancer for the entire world. Pakistan is a headache for the entire world; Pakistan is the epicenter of terrorism for the entire world. Who says long live Pakistan? It’s down with Pakistan,” prompting his followers to chant ‘down with Pakistan’ slogans. This was outrageous behaviour even by Altaf Hussain’s standards who on an earlier occasion had invited the Indian intelligence agency, RAW, to come to his ethnic community’s help. For an individual to express such an opinion perhaps could be ignored as a right to free expression, but it was quite another matter for a politician to paint the country in such dirty colours.
The MQM as the fourth largest party with significant presence both in Parliament and in the Sindh Assembly could ill afford to rubbish the country where it is an important political player. No wonder its Karachi based leaders immediately distanced themselves from Altaf Hussain-something unthinkable until now. Dr Farooq Sattar in whose name the party is registered told a news conference that from now on the Karachi-based Rabita Committee would take all decisions, and that “if there’s another MQM which believes in Pakistan bashing, then let us know so we can form another party or take a new flag.”
In other words, the party he is to lead wants no part of Altaf Hussain’s anti-Pakistan tirades. According to Barrister Farogh Nasim, he along with several other party leaders had decided to resign if things were to remain as usual. Aamer Liaqat announced his resignation showing exasperation, like Barrister Nasim, over having to repeatedly defend the indefensible. Yet there are some who think, the ‘minus one’ arrangement is a tactical ploy and that once the dust settles down Altaf Hussian will pick up the remote control in London to run the party affairs in Karachi.
That though seems unlikely considering that the political environment is changing; what was possible until now is not possible anymore. The MQM can no longer shut down Karachi on the slightest pretext. In order to stay in business, the party has to part ways with the leader who is increasingly losing touch with reality.
What outraged public opinion about Altaf Husain’s latest speech were not only his provocative comments about the country but also incitement to violence against a whole host of people. There can be no two opinions on that urging people to commit violence is a serious offence.
The MQM has always been using intimidation and violence against the media both to keep it from giving unfavourable coverage and also to impel the electronic media to telecast live Altaf Hussain’s rambling speeches, sometimes peppered with such grave threats as telling his opponents he would have a gunny bag ready (for a dead body) if they had a person to put in it.
In his Monday’s rant, he asked his party activists why had they not attacked Samaa, ARY and Geo News for not showing him, demanding to know “why didn’t you break these channels? How can this go on in Karachi that your leader’s photo can’t be displayed.” (His apologists must not forget that in any democratic polity no amount of a leader’s popular appeal gives him/her the right to cause harm to others.) At once MQM activists, men and women, set out to do the work demanded of them, attacking the three media houses, setting fire to vehicles and injuring photographers and ordinary citizens along the way.
13 injured had to be hospitalised, one of whom succumbed to his injuries. The MQM leader has to answer for this murder as well as for asking his party people to prepare for the next day to attack the Rangers headquarters and the Sindh government secretariat. This is how he threatened the paramilitary force’s chief in Sindh: “I would put the DG Rangers on trial, will openly hang him and for three months will keep his dead body hanging to burn and dry.”
The British government needs to take notice of this maddening proclivity to violence: the provocative speech leading to attacks on media houses resulting in the death of a passer-by and injuries to several others and the threat against the Rangers official. The second one is an unmistakable incitement to murder which deserves appropriate legal action. Under the UK’s 2005 law, incitement to violence against the other person or group of people or damage to property is punishable with one year imprisonment.
And a person who uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, causing harassment, alarm or distress to others – like the MQM hooligans did on his orders at TV stations, burning vehicles and injuring people along the way – is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months. The British government must act against use of its soil for causing unrest and violence in this country.
Source: Business Recorder