a trick question

Cracking post of Londonstani’s; perhaps he should retitle as Continuity Abu M?

However, it leaves me with one really big question. If I was a Taliban leader under Pakistani protection, I’d be really worried about moving to Karachi unless I knew whose side that city’s various armed factions were on. They’re various, as I say, but they’re more or less linked to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement or MQM, a rightwing/nationalist entity that emerged after the Indian-Pakistani wars among the refugees who moved to the cities of (West) Pakistan. It’s historically been very close to the Pakistani Army, quite violent, and an important factor in politics.

In as far as they are on the side of the Army, they’re opposed to secessionist Pashtuns and crazy Islamists. In as far as the particular army unit they are dealing with is the ISI, though…you get the picture.

Of course, it would be naive to ask “Whose side is the MQM on?” Like all such movements, it’s always on the same side – its own side. Rather, at the moment the movement will have aligned itself on a temporary and tactical basis with one or more factions in Pakistani politics in order to pursue its interests, and I’m curious as to which ones.

It may be worth noting that, quietly, Asif Ali Zardari is still president of Pakistan and still not dead, which suggests he may be doing something right. The MQM and the Bhuttos and the PPP, although they’re both based in Sindh rather than Punjab, have been at daggers drawn ever since the MQM changed sides on them at the end of the 1980s, but then this was very likely because the army wanted them to be. Now, though:

ALTAF HUSSAIN OFFERS HEARTIEST FELICITATIONS TO THE PRESIDENT ASIF ALI ZARDARI, PRIME MINISTER YOUSAF RAZA GILANI, PARTY CHAIRPERSON BILAWAL BHUTTO ZARDARI, ALL LEADERS AND WORKERS OF PPP ON THE FOUNDATION DAY

…but perhaps they’re protesting too much.

Bizarrely, the world headquarters of the MQM is officially in a shop in Station Road, Edgware; I’m almost tempted to bus it round there and ring the doorbell.


  1. 1 revenue engine « Alternate Seat of TYR

    […] 6, 2009 in 4GW, Afghanistan, Pakistan, corruption We had a post about the MQM in Karachi and the Taliban. Strangely enough, Reuters got a fascinating interview […]




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