The picture of 2018 will be half-complete without taking into account the unfortunate happenings that occurred in 2017. For the MQM, 2017 was very difficult; the fallout from the mishap of August 22, 2016 (Altaf Hussain’s anti-Pakistan rhetoric) and its aftermath were extremely challenging. We had to revive, rebuild and reorganise the party.
Despite the setback, our rallies in Karachi and Hyderabad made it crystal clear that our vote-bank remains intact. Although different groups, which basically originated from the MQM, are also focusing on urban-Sindh’s politics, I am confident that 2018 belongs to the MQM. I don’t think that any force will be able to drastically dent our vote bank, which has been with us for the last 35 years.
The only obstacle is that Karachi has been undercounted in the latest census. This means the city will not get proper representation in the assemblies according to the size of its population.
However, people know that for survival and resolution of their fundamental problems, they need unity, which can only be guaranteed by the MQM rather than by any of its factions.
With the passage of time, people are realising more and more that the MQM alone carries the legacy of struggle for the rights of the middle and lower-middle classes, especially in urban Sindh.
Our party is focused on ridding itself from the controversial policies and culture associated with it in the pre-August 22, 2016-era and striving to bring many other positive changes including organisational discipline and accountability.
The presence of the Pak Sarzameen Party and the All Pakistan Muslim League pose a limited challenge. They can slightly split our vote-bank and may erase our margin of victory to an extent.
In the national arena, the mounting pressure of the opposition parties on the government is quite evident, but in my view, any unnatural approach to sideline the PML-N must not be adopted. Early elections, dissolving assemblies, or any other such effort should be made with the consensus of all the opposition parties.
In my opinion, the opposition parties protest rally in Lahore to demand justice for Model Town victims was not much of a success, but the Punjab government is certainly losing moral ground by not holding people responsible for the incident accountable.
In the 2018 elections, I see the PTI gaining an upper hand in Punjab; the disclosure of Panama Leaks and Imran Khan’s campaign against corruption and bad governance has indeed damaged the PML-N. In rural Sindh, the PPP may take the lead, whereas the MQM will hopefully claim urban Sindh.