Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Political Murder In London

Until I read about his murder, I didn't even know who Dr. Imran Farooq was, or the fact he was a founding member of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), a political party representing the Urdu-speaking Muslims who migrated to Pakistan from India after partition. They took up residents in Karachi, a polyglot city of 18 million people, which is also their political base. The MQM is very conspiratorial, with a penchant for violence and, as many Karachites will attest, for general mayhem. The leader of the MQM is one Altaf Hussein, who is both autocratic and paranoid. Though he resides in London as a political refugee, he runs the party he help found with an iron grip.

So when the particulars came out, the brutal death of Dr. Farooq was put in its proper perspective. In fact, a number of prominent MQM leaders have been killed in Karachi. By whom, no one really knows, but this is how the serpentine world of Pakistani politics often works. So the murder of Dr. Farooq was a cold-blooded political assassination, pure and simple. A list of possible suspects would be a long one. The question to ask, of course, is: what is to gain form by the murder of Dr. Farooq?

Admittedly, he was an easy target. His killer laid await from him as he left his residence and stabbed him multiple times. Dr. Farooq had no protection. He wasn't active in politics anymore, but was leading a normal life in a London suburb. Like Altaf Hussein, he, too, was a political refugee.

Altaf Hussein believes Dr. Farooq was killed to intimidate him, and that he well may be next. Altaf Hussein claims foreign intrigue as well, whatever that means. Some have claimed that the current Pakistani government, let by the PPP, an avowed enemy of MQM, ordered the hit to scare Altaf. Lately, Altaf has called for a military takeover and the dismantling of the feudal system that controls Pakistan. Given that the PPP derives its power from the feudal lords who reside in the Sindh hinterland, such talk would not really be welcomed.

Some are claiming that it was Altaf Hussein who ordered the assassination. News reports claim that Dr. Farooq, sick of the ethnic factionalism of Pakistani politics, was planning to join Pervez Musharraf's new political party, the All Pakistan Muslim League. That someone of Dr. Farooq's stature was to join would have been a betrayal to Altaf Hussein's. So he silenced Dr. Farooq as a signal to other MQM dissidents, to think twice about crossing him.

It's good to note, however, that Altaf Hussein likes to dance with the devil. He doesn't mind turning Karachi into a powder keg to suit his political purpose. In fact, the murder of Dr. Farooq would fit nicely into his plans to launch a "French revolution" in Pakistan. There is little chance of this happening as the MQM is despised outside of Karachi.

Will the killer ever be found? Who knows. But things have gotten a bit dangerous; not even London is safe anymore.

NOTE: Great article about the murder here