Upside down, inside out. The laws of logic don’t apply to debates over Karachi. Many a cart is put before the horse, many a correlation is accepted as causation.
The current spate of killings in Karachi resumed when the PPP’s enfant terrible, Dr Zulfiqar Mirza, as subtle as a sledgehammer as always, burst out against the MQM and its leader Altaf Hussain. To the liberati – and twitterati – it is Mirza who is to blame, not the activists on a rampage. Imagine the same line of reasoning being used in a similar situation anywhere else in the country.
True, Dr Mirza shouldn’t have gone off in a manner like that, at a time like this. It was uncalled for and impolitic. But the implication that it is he who has on his hands the blood of those killed in the subsequent riots is ridiculous.
The kid gloves with which the mainstream media treats those who call the shots in Karachi is evident in the low standards set for the latter and the pristine standards for anyone else in the city’s unfortunate turf war. In the commentariat, any explanation (any, any) that tends to be even-handed in its criticism, that tries to move beyond the Golden Mean Fallacy (“all sides are to be blamed equally”) is immediately trashed as one that does not know the true-ground-realities-of-the-city, a ruse used to justify anything and everything, from the 12th of May, 2007 to beyond.
Part of Dr Mirza’s diatribe was interpreted by some to be offensive towards not just the MQM but the mohajir community as a whole, for which he tendered an apology yesterday, endorsed by the Urdu-speaking members of his party.
A mercurial character, the doctor, displaying little of the respect that politicians usually have for time and place. In the past, his behaviour has ranged from refreshingly honest, to needlessly reckless to downright crass. But is the other side the epitome of maturity? The MQM is not known to pull any punches when it comes to the leadership of other parties, including the PPP.
Not withstanding the provocation, the MQM must learn to take criticism well, even of its top leadership. If it has taken offence at a particularly caustic swipe, it should pay it back in the same coin. The disproportionate response shown the other day resembles the uproar that followed the Danish cartoon incident. Secularism, anyone?