By Raza Habib Raja
At the onset I would like to acknowledge that I have very mixed feelings about MQM. At one hand, I like its relatively secular approach and its demonstrated commitment to denounce hardliners when everyone else was actually going for an appeasement policy which in reality would have merely strengthened them in the Northern part of Pakistan. I also endorse the view of some prominent journalists, albeit with reservations, that MQM is a necessary counterforce to thwart reemergence of Jamat-i-Islami in Karachi . I like and admire the fact that MQM is the only party whose leadership has risen from the grass root level to the top. Its ability to mobilize masses is brilliant and above all MQM has the ability to engage masses and encourage a culture of populism which often acts as strong canceling agent to political aspirations of the conservative religious forces.
However, no matter how hard I try I cannot turn a blind eye to the other and frankly at times ugly side of the MQM. The recent spree of target killings clearly indicate that all the political stakeholders are to be blamed. However, being the dominant political force and with a long history of violence, MQM has to take the major share of the blame. In fact it has become a pattern that whenever MQM wants to convey a message, it uses deliberate and cold blooded violence to do so. Moreover, the party deliberately uses its electoral strength to blackmail every provincial government whether its PML(N), PML (Q) or PPP. The combination of electoral strength and violence to achieve its objectives is a regular pattern now.