IS this the return of the prodigal son? If so, it would be of a piece with how the MQM saga has been evolving — or, more accurately, engineered — over the past year or so. It emerged on Friday that Hammad Siddiqui — former head of the MQM’s Tanzeemi Committee when Altaf Hussain was the party supremo — who was arrested two months ago in Dubai, had been handed over to Pakistan by the UAE and brought to Islamabad. Reportedly, it was not the police or the FIA that took custody of him from the emirate’s authorities, as per standard operating procedures, but an unspecified Pakistani intelligence agency. Mr Siddiqui is a prime suspect in the Baldia factory fire that claimed over 250 lives in 2012, the worst industrial accident in the country’s history.
Going by recent events, however — or for that matter Mr Siddiqui’s past as the immediate boss until recently of the MQM’s feared militant wing — that may not prevent his ‘rehabilitation’ in Karachi’s political landscape. The curious affair of former MQM deputy convener Anis Qaimkhani is instructive: the latter, like Mr Siddiqui, was also named in the JIT report of the Baldia disaster. However, his mention was subsequently and without any explanation excised from a second JIT report. That he and Mustafa Kamal arrived soon after in Karachi from their self-exile in Dubai to announce the formation of the PSP, which has since flaunted its links with the intelligence agencies, was obviously a politically expeditious quid pro quo. The MQM-P, itself a product of an establishment-devised minus-Altaf formula, has seen numerous members defecting to the PSP; individuals with unsavoury reputations, all the more amenable to manipulation, have re-emerged with whitewashed profiles. If the allegations against Mr Siddiqui have any merit, he should be put on trial, as should all the others who were accused of complicity, regardless of their allegiances. Otherwise, Karachi’s citizens are doomed to once again suffer the fallout of what is clearly new wine in old bottles.
DAWN editorial Published on December 10th, 2017
The views expressed in the editorial may not reflect PKonweb’s editorial policy