MUZAFFARABAD – Five Jama’at-e-Islami workers sustained bullet wounds in an attack allegedly carried out by the MQM workers on Tuesday, which marked the culmination of the on-going cold war, which started in the wake of earthquake in an effort to establish themselves as major contributors.
This tension was triggered by wall chalking – eulogising self-exiled leader Altaf Hussain – throughout the city by the MQM, which was reciprocated by the JI student wing Islami Jamiat Talba (IJT) in the same manner. The MQM alleged the student organisation of spreading negative propaganda against the Party through the distribution of pamphlets among the residents of the tents established by the Movement.
Initially, tension erupted between the MQM and the IJT in an effort to take lead over the other in the ‘show-offs’ and to get their presence felt by the residents of the city and visitors. “Both are indulging in show-offs and trying to establish themselves in the area by projecting themselves through the media, and wall-chalking and banners, which is pretty painful seeing the ground reality and the attitude of these two parties,” said a local political leader, on condition of anonymity. To him, the MQM is struggling to revamp its image. “No doubt, the MQM is trying to dismantle its image of an ‘aggressive’ nationalist party, and become a political entity enjoying positive image among the masses. Secondly, it also wants to do away with its label of the regional party. The quake is an excellent opportunity to do this,” he added.
According to the residents, the MQM has been seen for the first time in the area on October 11 – three days after the earthquake – whereas the JI has its set-up here prior to the unfortunate day. “So it was easy for the largest religious party in the Parliament to establish itself here as compared to the MQM, which had to come to the city and erect its infrastructure from zero. It established its medical camps and tents on the main road of the city and at the Azad Jammu Kashmir University (Old Campus),” he stated.
The JI is one the most organised parties in the area and is prominent among all the political dispensations working in the area. “The MQM is not in a position to confront the JI in Kashmir, and it is indulging in a folly by repeating the Karachi-mindset here as it will not work here. As it is doing presently, it is going to damage its present contribution in the relief efforts. Though the MQM has been able to create a soft corner among the quake-victims here, but is not in a position to take any lead when compared with the JI. Succinctly, it is pretty premature attempt by the MQM to confront with one of the main parties doing relief work here,” he averred. Moreover, according to him, there is a general perception that the MQM is being supported by government institutions.
Media Coordinator MQM Abdul Qudoos maintained that his party was struggling for the rights of the dispossessed and powerless lot, which makes 98 percent of the population. “Our struggle is for this lot, but we have always been hindered by the remaining two percent ruling elite. On the other hand, we always projected the poor, which is not acceptable to the major political parties. After working in the four provinces, now we have moved to the Azad Jammu Kashmir to help the quake-victims, but we have been resisted by the JI,” he maintained. Qudoos was of the considered opinion that the JI was stopping the MQM from carrying out relief work. “We are in the AJK Capital and are involved in the first phase of relief activities, and will continue till the job is finished,” he maintained. Qudoos stated that MNA Samia Raheel Qazi visited the MQM tents, who had appreciated his Party’s relief efforts. To him, the JI ‘elders’ were against this, but the younger generation was lauding MQM’s efforts.
Secretary-General JI Syed Munawar Hassan stated that the MQM did not exist in the AJK Capital before the earthquake. “Their claims are hollow, and the IJT has done no wrong, as being projected by the MQM, which is a fascist party,” he added. Munawar accused the government in Islamabad for giving orders of firing at the JI relief workers. “The government should take notice of the wrong doings of the MQM, and the media should highlight such nefarious activities. The MQM is part of the ruling government, which should bring the culprits to justice,” he demanded. Munawar stated that as far as the visit of the MNA Samia Raheel Qazi was concerned, it was being projected by the MQM and the JI had issued no press release in this regard.
The IJT is here in various educational institutions and is one of the strongest student wings of the political parties. National Student Federation – supporting independent Kashmir – is a weaker entity. Jammu Kashmir Student Federation – supporters of Kashmiri leader Aman Ullah Khan – is the weakest of all the student wings of various political parties. The Peoples Student Federation of the Jammu Kashmir Peoples Party and the Muslim Student Federation – fortunes depending upon the government of the Muslim Conference – are the two strong student wings. The Mustafvi Student Movement of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek exists at fewer places. Apart from other minor student groups of political parties, the MQM is the only political party, which does not have a student wing here.
These all student organisations are supporting their respective political parties by all means – mainly acting as relief workers and actualising their political agendas apart from protecting their ‘political rights’.
The residents of the city see this fight as a bad omen for the relief work. “They are here to serve the earthquake-victims and not to settle scores. They should work only instead of making Muzaffarabad a political battleground, and strengthening themselves in the area through various means,” said a victim-turned-relief worker Pervaiz Qureshi. To him, this scuffle would create more problems instead of solving them.