Storm in Sindh Assembly: PPP and MQM still use ethnic politics to attack each other

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News Analysis |

The session of Sindh Assembly became highly controversial when lawmakers of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) indulged in ethnic politics on Thursday. Initially, MQM-P lawmaker Muhammad Hussain who was supposed to comment on the budget said there was no role played by the lawmakers in the making of this budget. “We are not supposed to sit here just to approve your budget. No recommendation was taken from the opposition,” he said.

Mr. Hussain went on to say that entire Sindh is dependent on 85 percent of the total tax paid by Karachiites. “Karachi bears the burden of rural Sindh. Rural Sindh people are imposed on us, but we won’t let this happen. Some people are concerned when we talk about rights of Karachi,” he said. The MQM-Pleader who was apparently not happy to see the leaders of the PPP in the assembly asked the “so-called” lovers of Sindh to give a reason for their “injustices” to the capital of the province. “How can you love Sindh without giving a penny to Karachi?” he asked.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, saying that the performance of the Sindh government was far better than the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government.

Hussain said the metropolis was deprived of water, electricity, transport and other basic amenities. The entire Sindh has been destroyed by corruption and bribery, he said. Moreover, the MQM-P lawmaker said the community development programme through which uplift works had to be carried out had been destroyed by “‘favouritism”, adding that the matter should be referred to the NAB for investigation. “The PPP top leadership has to face the consequences of ministers’ lethargy,” he said.

It is important to note here that the PPP government is accused of violation of merit across the province. PPP’s firebrand speaker Sohail Anwar Sial hit back at MQM-P’s Muhammad Hussain, saying the latter’s party founder had raised anti-Pakistan slogans. “Those who are claiming about feeding Sindh were given food and place to live by Sindhis when they migrated from India after the partition in 1947. You should become Sindhi and Pakistani first,” he said.

Read more: Changes in PTI’s Sindh chapter: a way forward to ensure Tabdeeli

Referring to the MQM-P, Sial said those who were dreaming of having their own chief minister could not make even their own opposition leader. He also came down hard on the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, saying that the performance of the Sindh government was far better than the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government. Rejecting Prime Minister Imran Khan’s announcement of awarding nationality to Pakistan-born Afghans and Bengalis, he asked the PTI to take those ‘illegal’ migrants to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The PPP leader repeated said the leader of the MQM was a traitor. He was referring to Altaf Hussain, former Quaid of the party. Last year, 2016, Altaf Hussain chanted anti-Pakistan slogans during his telephonic address after which his speeches were banned from electronic media. During this speech, Altaf Hussain also openly threatened media houses and asked the electrified crowd to attack those media houses which don’t support Altaf Hussain.

Interestingly, the party was called Muhajir Qaumi Movement until 1997 when it changed its name to Muttahida Qaumi Movement.

Both lawmakers seemingly failed to understand the sensitivity of the matter and passed unnecessary and some uncalled for remarks. For many observers in Pakistan, Sindh is going through a massive social change where PTI managed to win a few seats from the interior and many from urban centers of the province. People of Sindh are now tired of the parties of the status quo in the province. The PPP is generally known for its progressive and liberal political agenda but as a matter of fact, the party too often uses the Sindhi card to garner political support in interior Sindh.

Read more: PPP impeding accountability in Sindh

Similarly, the politics of MQM always remained focused on the Muhajir card. Interestingly, the party was called Muhajir Qaumi Movement until 1997 when it changed its name to Muttahida Qaumi Movement. It was this focus on ethnic politics as well as misgovernance, use of militant wings, indulgence in extortion, target killing & other criminal activities that turned the urban voter of Karachi against the MQM and the PPP. This is what gave an ample opportunity to the PTI to win easily from Karachi, which was previously known for its ethnic political faultlines.

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