The Pakistani metropolitan city of Karachi suffered gravely due to heavy rainfall in recent times. The city has been in a mess with large areas still to be cleared of the accumulated waste. Prime Minister of the country Imran Khan has decided to send the Army to assist the local authorities in cleaning up the city. This seems an innocuous thing.
Unless, you look at it from the angle of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), a political party of Pakistan whose leader has been living in London due to security threats. The leader, Altaf Hussain, sees a sinister political design behind this move of PM Khan.
"Pakistan Army and ISI along with China have completed its nefarious design to declare Karachi a federal territory to usurp its resources, Hussain said in a statement. "According to the nefarious design, under the guise of the task of cleaning the city, Karachi is being handed over to the Army," he added.
Karachi is the capital of arguably Pakistan's most productive state, Sindh. It has long been considered the financial capital of the country. Sindh is culturally and linguistically different from Punjab, the state regarded as the most dominant in the Islamic Republic. This has produced tension between the Federal government of Pakistan, usually dominated by Punjabis, and the Sindhis.
MQM's distrust of Pakistani Army and its shadowy intelligence wing – Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) – also stems from the fact that the army is dominated by Punjabis and Pathans (Pashto-speaking tribesmen from the area straddling the Pakistan-Afghanistan border). The fear of Karachi and Sindh being suppressed by Punjabis and Pathans exists not just in politics but also in cricket.
MQM started out as a party that advocated for the interests of 'Muhajirs' – Urdu-speaking people who migrated from eastern part of India to Pakistan at the time of partition of the subcontinent in 1947. However, as time has gone on, the party has come to be identified also with Sindhi regionalism.
The party dominates the politics of Karachi despite its leader's exile which has been in effect for around 28 years. Hussain escaped to London in 1992 after an attempt on his life and Army's witch-hunt against his party. He has been living in Britain since then but continues to have a major say in his party's functioning.
His claims about ISI and China trying to take over Karachi could also stem from the discomfort a lot of Pakistanis feel about the growing clout of China in Pakistan. With Pakistan being economically in a bad state, the dependence on China has increased even more.