It is noteworthy that every time the MQM is put on the spot by media for being passive at the provincial front, given the fact that law and order is a provincial subject, and pensive at national front it alludes to President Asif Ali Zardari’s role holding a key to Karachi’s peace. This veiled reference makes a sense in the context of impending local government’s election and a stand-off between PPP and MQM to continue with local bodies system introduced by Musharraf or replace it with Commissionerate System. WikiLeaks indicates feud over local government system between the PPP and MQM has gone on for two years. PPP wanted appointed-Administrators in place of District Nazims until new elections were held. MQM agreed so long as elections were held in 90 days. The PPP was worried that the MQM influence under the Nazim system and widespread disfavor of the PPP by Nazims would lead to a poor showing by PPP in many of the 23 Sindh Districts. Ironically, in August last year the District Nazim system was restored in Karachi and Hyderabad, the two strongholds of MQM, while the commissionerate system was promulgated in the rest of Sindh province.
Between 2002 and 2008 or during Musharraf’s rule Karachi remained peaceful with the exception of few incidents of violence. During this period two major political parties — PPP and PML-N — were sidelined and their top leadership was exiled so the sole ownership of Karachi was under the MQM control. However, now things have changed and the MQM is facing a stiff competition from its rivals in Urban Sindh and Karachi. It has to show a spirit of political accommodation and learn to share power. The PPP, which has been refusing the legitimate demand of MQM to announce date for local bodies elections, should act like big brother and senior partner so that the control of the city goes to the elected local representatives. If free and fair elections are ensured and elected local representatives take the reins of local governance and administration of the city, a major political demand of MQM will be fulfilled, which is legitimate and genuine anyway. After that in the light of Supreme Court’s verdict efforts should be made to de-politicize the police and political parties should disband their armed wings. Though PPP banned People’s Aman Committee in theory, in practice it continues criminal activities unabated.
At the end of the day the stakes of political elite or political parties in Karachi are confined to win elections instead of having central focus on governance. The unending cycle of violence of all hues and colours in Karachi is a political issue and everyone but the political parties could stop fighting if they wanted to.
The author writer is a Senior Analyst at ICPVTR, Singapore and can be reached at email@example.com