'Mohajir problem'.

THE recent local government (LG) elections in Karachi have thrown quite a few curve balls. If the unofficial results of the election are to be believed, Karachi has opted to ditch the mainstream populist narrative, which dominates much of the airways, for more nuanced, localised choices. Perhaps for the first time in its history, the PPP has emerged as the single largest political party in the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, albeit by a whisker, followed closely by the Jamaat-i-Islami.

On their own, the unexpected results of the LG elections of Pakistan's most populous city should have been enough to send shockwaves through the media. And yet, they continued to remain relegated to the second- or even third-placed items in most mainstream news cycles, which continued to be dominated by the happenings in Punjab.

In a nutshell, this a perfect reflection of the 'Mohajir problem'. Despite Karachi being in the news cycle for all the wrong reasons, allegedly the metropolis's largest ethnic group continues to be relegated to the peripheries of society. The city which was once home to Pakistan's bureaucratic elites, hailing largely from a particular ethnicity, now seems devoid of its share at the national governance table.

For all its wealth creation and economic activity, Karachi's contribution to GDP, it seems, is inversely proportional to its political say in national affairs. All this largely comes down to the marginalisation of its largest ethnic group.

Mohajirs are almost exclusively seen as MQM loyalists.

It is hard to imagine that the ethnic speakers of Urdu, Pakistan's national language, feel that they have been consigned to the margins of the national debate, and yet there is reason to believe that there exists a very real Mohajir problem which few people are ready to acknowledge.

The Mohajir community has long been associated with a particular firebrand style of politics; with violence, government-hopping and ethnic hatred being the key factors of such an identity. But the question is, can political parties necessarily be a representation of the people they represent, or should they merely be seen as a reflection of their leaders and not the community they represent? The rise and the current fall of the MQM has often been viewed as the bellwether of the fortunes and mood of the entire Mohajir community. But are we right to paint Karachi's Mohajirs with such a broad stroke of the brush called the MQM? Or does there exist a Mohajir...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT