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Dear MQM, PTI supporters are not sorry!


This letter is a response to a letter  recently published in The Express Tribune. I sincerely applaud your gracious apology to the MQM, especially at time when Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) supporters are vehemently caricatured only as abusive and irrational juveniles. One cannot help but be struck by the irony of your worthwhile endeavour. Had you been an MQM supporter, publicly asking Altaf Hussain to apologise for his incendiary vitriol and distasteful accusations against Imran Khan, you would have known the consequences of such an act would be dire, even if you had chosen to withhold your private identity. But thankfully you will not be hearing from PTI because, as you rightly pointed out, you are allowed the space to express your opinion in the party that you support. Perhaps, for the sake of political expediency Imran Khan could have chosen to use different language or shown restraint in issuing an outright statement blaming the MQM for Ms Hussain's murder. As a PTI member I do have the right to question his judgement and to demand a justification for any action taken by the party. However, in this instance I feel that the PTI is justified in making such claims. Given the outright vicious threats and attacks on PTI members and their property, and the general violent atmosphere of hatred and fear that the very well-known "Namaloom Afrad' have cultivated, I believe that there is substantial merit in calling a spade, a spade. Your assertion that this statement has 'divided' people and deepened our hatred towards each other is as preposterous as it is dangerous. I would suggest to you listen to a few of Altaf Hussain's speeches to familiarise yourself with the scope and scale of the hate speech that he spews against Imran Khan and PTI. Such harangues against PTI by the MQM are not new and certainly did not start after the gruesome murder of Zahra Shahid Hussain. Incidentally you must know PTI is not the only entity that has issues with such hate speech by MQM. Furthermore, some of the assumptions that you seem to uphold in your letter seem inherently problematic. You imply that unlike others you 'accept the MQM as a political force' in Karachi and that 'MQM and its supporters are here to stay.’ The fallacy in this argument is the implication that the PTI does not 'accept' or recognise the MQM as a significant political force or that it has misgivings and doubts regarding the influence MQM has in Karachi. Nothing could be further from the truth. As is evident from the PTI political outlook, it clearly does not underestimate the MQM's power and considers MQM to be a strong competition in Karachi that they consistently feel the need to counter. PTI has only demanded a level playing field without threat, coercion and violence. However as is evident from the recent visibly documented cases of pre-election and Election Day bullying, such demands have not been fulfilled. If anything is self-evident in this argument is the fact that it is actually the MQM which do not seem to 'accept' or recognise PTI as a political force in Karachi which it considers to be solely its own home turf. Indeed, like some other political parties in Pakistan the MQM that has become excessively defensive (and for a good reason too) by openly threatening PTI for protesting against its legal right to protest against blatant rigging and indulging in derogatory name-calling against the PTI, describing it as a ' burger' party of the elite who reside in posh localities. Clearly by such flawed logic then as many 'burgers' live in Landhi (69,072 votes) as do in elite environs of NA250 (77,659 votes). Also I am not really sure who you are referring to when you point out 'many who feel that by pointing at the MQM, it will eventually bring an end to your party and your supporters'. Being a PTI member for the last 16 years, also being familiar with the policy and decision-making in the party, I can safely say that PTI does not seek to 'bring an end' to MQM or any other political party in Pakistan for that matter. In fact it would be safe to say that it thrives on healthy competition from political forces, be it in Karachi or in any other area of Pakistan. One must agree that all political parties would gain from fair competition and signs are that MQM seems to have benefited from it already. We all want peace and harmony, and 'change' will not come by turning a blind eye to injustice and intimidation in our neighbourhoods but rather from looking it squarely in the eye by fostering relationship of equality not servitude among rivals. Here is to a peaceful future for all of us together in Karachi. Follow Zeynab on Twitter @zeynabali74

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