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The role of MQM

MQM was among the first to activate its cadre to support the victims of the earthquake, writes Dr Shabir Choudhry.

india Updated: Nov 28, 2005 19:35 IST

There are people who have many bad things to say about MQM as a party and a movement, and they even have criticism to make over their role in the relief work. As a Kashmiri nationalist I welcome their help. According to news in Pakistani papers there have been some clashes between MQM workers and Jammat E Islami workers in Pakistani Administered Kashmir. Rivalry between these two go back to Karachi and has manifested itself even in the filed of relief work.

As far as I am concerned MQM was among the first to activate its cadre to support the victims of the earthquake, and they have provided millions of rupees and blankets etc; and have helped to save thousands of lives. We are grateful to MQM for everything they have done for us, and we hope that they will continue to help us because still there are millions of people without any shelter.

MQM, at one time, was only a regional or ethnic party with interest largely restricted to Karachi and Hyderabad, but we saw role of MQM gradually expanding to the rest of Pakistan. Over the years they have played an important role in the national politics of Pakistan; and now they have moved to Pakistani Administered Kashmir to help the quake victims. Before the rise of MQM, Jammat e Islami had a big say in politics of Karachi, and after bitter confrontation their position was take over by MQM. And now that MQM workers came to Pakistani Administered Kashmir this alarmed Jammat e Islami, because they feel they could be squeezed here as well.

I can see MQM playing an important role not only in Pakistan but also in Kashmir as well. Sooner or later Pakistani government has to make some compromise on Kashmir and they have shown their ability to make u turns on important issues and get away with it. Kashmir dispute is a different ball game; the government has to get support of some powerful forces in the country.

MQM over the years has proved that they have the ability to mobilize public support on important issues, and effectively support the government. MQM Chief, Altaf Hussain, by sitting in London can call shots and make things happen in Pakistan. The military government and MQM need each other in order to be relevant. Their interests are common, and they have to forge closer ties to be successful in the next phase, which starts in 2007; but for that a lot of work needs to be done beforehand.

As noted above Pakistan has to swallow a bitter pill on Kashmir, and MQM could be a useful ally in this. It would not surprise me at all if MQM starts its branch in Azad Kashmir. I oppose Pakistani parties to have their branches in Pakistani Administered Kashmir and in Gilgit and Baltistan; but if other Pakistani parties can have their branches here then no one can stop MQM to set up their branch here.

Should MQM decides to follow other Pakistani parties and move in to this area, which in one way they have already done because of the relief work, then they could soon be a successful party as they know how to make alliances and mobilize masses.

(Writer is a Chairman of JKLF Diplomatic Committee, and author of many books and booklets on Kashmir. He is also Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs. Email:drshabirchoudhry@hotmail.com)