Situationer: The bumpy road ahead.

WHILE their opponents do not see the unification of different factions of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement sans Altaf Hussain as a political threat, those who once formed the upper echelons of the unified MQM predict the merger would lead to a power struggle. As a result, they believe, the party would continue to use the establishment as a crutch to sort out its internal differences.

As the union took shape on Thursday evening, Dawn approached several leaders of the various factions for insights on the merger, its challenges and the prospects of a unified MQM without Altaf Hussain in the upcoming general elections. While everyone predicts a bumpy ride ahead, the gist of the conversation suggests the merger would not be reversed as long as the establishment desires it should stay intact.

'This is a caesarean section and the birth is premature. For survival, the infant must be kept under constant medical care and that care has to be provided by the powers that have performed the surgery,' sums up a senior former MQM leader.

On the face of it, the unification is good news for all MQM supporters who thought their party had lost the 2018 elections on around half a dozen National Assembly seats in the metropolis because of a split in the vote bank.

The powers behind the merger also think the same, and they may not be completely wrong.

In the 2018 general elections, MQM-P bagged four of the 21 NA seats in Karachi, while Pak Sarzameen Party got none. Election data, however, suggests candidates that from the MQM-P and PSP combined got more votes than those obtained by the winning PTI candidates on at least five NA seats.

The trend continued in the NA-249 by-election held in April 2021, in which the combined votes of MQM-P and PSP candidates were more than the number secured by PPP's Qadir Khan Mandokhel.

The PPP candidate won with 15,656 votes, whereas the combined votes of the MQM-P and PSP totaled 15,735. But the result of the NA-240 by-election in October 2022 tells a different tale.

So, apparently, the powers that be did simple arithmetic and decided that instead of a fragmented MQM, they now need a potent party that can present an electoral challenge to its nemesis, Imran Khan's PTI, in Karachi. The ex-premier has already described the merger attempt of MQM factions as political engineering.

'I see many problems, infighting and bitterness when it comes to choose new office-bearers for either the coordination committee or its subordinate bodies...

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