Karachi was traditionally anti establishment. Supporting Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah against Ayub in the 60’s. In the 70’s and 80’s they supported the Jamat e Islami against PPP, because of the Sindhi dominance of PPP. They felt maginalized and threatened. Altaf and Co filled that leadership vacuum and garnered support with PPP being Sindhi supported and Pakhtuns under ANP.
They became very powerful and extremely influential and wealthy during General Musharraf’s time acquiring great influence and power at the Federal and Provincial levels, even exercising influence on key military postings in Karachi. Whatever GPM’s political compulsions this was one of his greatest blunders.
But back to the main argument.
A group coalsces around a leadership who is able to convince them that their rights, property, life and security will be better looked after by them. Then comes the factor of organisational ability. There association with JI provided the basis of the structure down to the Mohalla level, much like Marxist and Socialist cadres seen in Germany and Italy and the Communist countries. From there it was a short walk to acquiring a very strong fascist character using strong arm methods to organise and keep the rank and file in check WHILE AT THE SAME TIME ENSURING THAT PEOPLE’S DAY TO DAY ISSUES AND PROBLEMS WERE SOLVED.
It also gave rise to bhattha collection to raise funds to promote their agenda, enter mainstream politics, acquire positions of authority to do both things. Make more money and have the clout to provide support to its people. Thus becoming a full fledged fascist organization to keep the leadership in power and eliminate any threats to the leadership from within.
Hence the killing spree which started and continued for decades, eliminating people at all levels of the party cadres who posed a threat to the organization including those outside. The stranglehold was now complete.
We will help you if you’re with us. We will kill you if you’re not was the basic message.
The armed killing teams carried out the elimination while the sector leadership also provided help and support. Hitler’s brownshirts and Mussolini’s black shirts are perfect examples. The leadership at all levels acquired immense power and wealth and perpetuated the system of both killing, physical violence and succor to keep themselves also entrenched.
A circle of total encirclement of the common MQM supporter was complete.
The average poor MQM voter or supporter was now resigned to their fate of supporting “The Quaid and the Party” or suffer huge consequences and even death.
The only way out of this stranglehold is for an alternate system of leadership or good governance by the Government to them and the physical elimination of the violent enforcers.
The recent Rangers operations put a dent into the latter. Mustafa Kamal’s PSP is another attempt at an alternate leadership.
However the government in Sindh has not and cannot deliver succor.
So people are still wary and cautious and scared to ditch the party, fearing PSM a passing fad, Rangers operations a temporary phenomena and a decision to stick with the known devil then the unknown.
Till the rank and file feel that the alternate is long term, and the physical threat to their lives no longer there will they dump the MQM.
This is my humble assessment of this party.