Another case against MQM falls apart

The script is a familiar one by now. LEAs carry out a major raid. Media broadcasts images of political workers being loaded into the back of trucks. Weapons are displayed in photographs while anchors offer grave warnings about foreign agents destabilising the country. The report makes a strong impression, but do we ever ask what happens to these stories? Over and over again we are seeing them fall apart.

In October, three MQM workers arrested and accused of being RAW agents were quietly acquitted by the ATC who noted that prosecutors were totally unable to establish cases against the accused. Then we saw Scotland Yard drop cases against Altaf Hussain himself due to absence of evidence.

Now another major case has fallen apart before our eyes. Just a few weeks ago media was reporting that a major terror bid was thwarted by a raid on a political party in Karachi with RAW links (no extra points for guessing who they meant) that uncovered a massive weapons cache. One month later, however, police themselves were asking the court to suspend the investigation due to lack of evidence.

The plea was submitted by an investigation officer in Karachi’s anti-terrorism court on Tuesday, the plea also requested the court to categorise the case as ‘A-Class’ as police officials failed to produce and submit any substantial evidence.

“Police officials failed to produce and submit any substantial evidence.” It’s the same story over and over again. What’s not known is whether any of these cases were manufactured dramas to chip away at the reputation of MQM. Whatever the truth is, it is certain that these cases have chipped away at the reputation of law enforcement agencies and made them appear to be on a political witch hunt against a particular political party.

 

Time for a new strategy in Karachi

MQM

After the high profile raids, the media circus, the declarations from the highest corridors of power, the charges fell flat. Over the weekend an Anti-Terrorism Court acquitted Tahir, alias Lamba, Junaid Khan and Imtiaz, all MQM workers who were accused of being RAW agents and charged with having explosives and illicit weapons.

The court ruled that the prosecution remained totally unable to establish the cases against the accused persons beyond any shadow of the doubt.

This is only the latest failure in the state’s efforts to destroy MQM. Just a few days ago, Scotland Yard announced that it had dropped money laundering investigations against Altaf Hussain due to lack of evidence.

I can understand the state’s frustration. After accusing of treason, mass arrests, demolishing offices, and even admitted torture, MQM simply will not go away. MQM continues to be elected and the state continues to have to mobilise Rangers to prevent MQM rallies.

It is clear that despite the best efforts of some, MQM continues to enjoy support among a large part of Karachi. This raises the question, instead of trying to squeeze people into submission, why don’t we think of how to take them into confidence? Instead of dividing ourselves against each other, shouldn’t we be trying to unite? I am not saying that MQM is an innocent lamb, but I am saying that they are our brothers and when your brother is feeling estranged isn’t it better to invite him home and listen to his troubles?

Karachi is integral part of Pakistan, and mohajirs are integral part of our life’s blood. We need to heal our nation, not divide it further. We need to embrace our brothers, not suffocate them.

Pakistani media: a noise box

Shaharyar Niazi on Geo

Due to the “absence of adequate evidence”, the Scotland Yard cleared, MQM chief Altaf Hussain in the money laundering case. According to Pakistan media, Metropolitan Police confirmed it that the investigation into the money laundering case against the MQM chief and others has been concluded.

Altaf Hussain was facing the media trial on the above mentioned case for more than three years. While his case was under investigation by the Law Enforcers of United Kingdom, the electronic media in Pakistan had convicted him with the crime.

Pakistani electronic media especially the evening talk shows are losing the credibility among the viewers. They have become more like a noise box than informative medium for the public. When it comes to journalistic ethics and norms, Pakistan electronic media has opted it out for the choice “Pay as you go” trend. The International Journal of Communication from the University of Southern California did a study called “Beyond the Western masses: Demography and Pakistani Media Credibility Perception” based on survey. The study examined Pakistani media’s credibility among the people of Pakistan with respect to their ethnic backgrounds. They found out that ethnicity is a key indicator in predicting media credibility. According to their result, the minority ethnic groups tend to find domestic television to be less credible, and international television to be more credible, than do members of the majority Punjabi group. In the study, “local television” was used for any type of television channel run by government or private media companies and serviced through aerial or cable/satellite connections in Pakistan, distinguishable from international television. But according to survey, in Pakistan the International media like CNN, BBC, and Al-Jazeera has smaller audiences as compared to Urdu-speaking channels.

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Building Pakistan’s Future

Mumtaz Qadri MosqueFew things tell as much about a society than the physical space itself. America’s Statue of Liberty, London’s grand palaces, the pyramids of Egypt, the canals of Amsterdam – each of these gives a glimpse into the heart and soul of the society. In Pakistan, too, our architecture tells our story. You cannot know Pakistan without knowing Lahore Fort, Shalimar Bagh, Islamia College, and Mazar-e-Quaid. Architectural landscapes change along with societies, though, and what we are building today is a glimpse into where we are headed tomorrow.

In Pakistan, the future we are building is usually discussed in terms of transportation infrastructure. Whether the controversial Orange Line Train in Lahore, or game changer CPEC, we are told stories about development that will usher in a bright future for the country. However, these are not the only projects taking place, and they may not even be the most important ones.

Jamia Hafsa, the infamous Lal Masjid madrasseh whose students swore allegiance to Daesh, has been granted 20 kanals plot in Sector H 11-4 Islamabad for construction of new facilities.

Across the capital, Faisal Mosque is getting competition from a newer construction – the mosque built to honour the convicted murderer Mumtaz Qadri. This mosque has proven so popular that it has raised funds to double its size.

Religious extremists are not the only ones expanding their space in the country. There has also been an rapid growth of building by DHA, one of the Army’s construction companies. DHA has even spread outside of its usual areas, announcing new developments in Balochistan also.

While religious extremists and the military expand their presence across the architectural landscape of the nation, secular political offices are being bulldozed. This is not a defence of Altaf Hussain, but nobody suggested bulldozing PMA Kakul when a COAS was charged with treason.

Projects like Orange Line Train and CPEC will make it easier to travel and transport both in major urban areas and across the nation. But it is what is being built for people to travel to that that will define our future.

Taking Refuge in Words and #Hashtags

see-no-evil-hear-no-evil-speak-no-evil

The latest MQM fiasco has mostly focused on the issues of law and order. Rangers raided and sealed 90 after MQM activists carried out attacks against media houses in Karachi – an inexcusable action by anyone but especially by a democratic political party, though sadly not an unusual one. PTI workers have been known to attack media workers include female reporters and PMLN workers have also indulged in attacking journalists. Any attacks on media are condemnable and attackers must be punished accordingly. However it is the underlying issue behind all of these attacks that requires our immediate attention.

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