News Analysis |
The Sindh Rangers director general on Monday night rejected claims that they were involved in the formation of MQM-P, saying it was a wrong impression that Rangers had given any guidelines to any political party. His remarks came amid allegations that the all-powerful establishment was on the move again making new political parties.
Major General Muhammad Saeed said political parties were the ones who made their decisions for making an alliance with other groups or working independently. He further added ““There would have been no case against leaders and activists of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) if it was formed inside the Rangers Headquarters. This is a wrong perception.”
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The statement came after Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) chief Mustafa Kamal on Saturday ‘disclosed’ the name of the alleged broker of his party’s alliance with Dr. Farooq Sattar-led Muttahida Quami Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) that only lasted for two days. Kamal’s allegations would be caught up by different political and media personalities who would use it to lambast the “establishment’s intrusion into politics”.
The combination of leftist anti-state rhetoric and the perception of ethnic oppression combine to paint the establishment as a bogeyman and a villain behind the scenes.
The establishment widely used to denote the military has often been used as a bogeyman by several politicians. The roots of the practice lie in the military rule that prevailed throughout much of Pakistan’s history. It was during Ayub Khan’s time that some assert that the political wing of the ISI was formed to regulate domestic politics. Many prominent civilian politicians arose from the bosom of the civilian rule such as Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who would, later on, form the Pakistan’s People’s Party.
The third Martial Law of Zia ul Haq would also see the nurturing of several political parties and personalities. Chief among these personalities was to be Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif who would lead the PML (N) and become Pakistan’s Prime Minister three times. Another force that came into being was the MQM then called the Muhajir Qaumi Movement who faced off the PPP in Karachi.
After the end of Zia Ul Haq’s rule, the establishment was alleged to be behind the unified opposition to Benazir Bhutto like the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad. The establishment was again the hidden hand behind Nawaz Sharif’s overwhelming victory in the 1997 elections. During Pervez Musharraf’s time, the establishment was deemed to be the force behind the PML-Q and MMA.
It was during Ayub Khan’s time that some assert that the political wing of the ISI was formed to regulate domestic politics.
Later on, the establishment would still be the staple word of conspiracy theories used to explain newcomers to the political arena. The PTI would be a particular whipping boy with political rivals blaming its massive popularity and rallies on the “establishment”.
While the historical intrusion of the establishment in domestic politics cannot be denied, the recent allegations by political parties should be taken with a pinch of salt. Many allegations on the establishment have been found to be untrue and politically motivated. The most famous case was that of Sabeen Mahmud who was killed in Karachi. Allegedly killed by the establishment of her support to Baloch sub-nationalists, it was found out she had been killed by Al Qaeda operatives who wanted to sow discord in society.
The practice of blaming the establishment for political upheavals is actually an integral part of leftist sub-nationalist politics.The combination of leftist anti-state rhetoric and the perception of ethnic oppression combine to paint the establishment as a bogeyman and a villain behind the scenes.
Major General Muhammad Saeed said political parties were the ones who made their decisions for making an alliance with other groups or working independently.
The MQM and PSP are both entities that are using Muhajir subnational politics as a platform. It can be asserted that Kamal used the establishment as an excuse to turn the Muhajir community against the MQM-P.
Whatever, the case may be, in the end, it can be contended that the establishment of its perceived role at least will be an integral part of Pakistani politics for some time.