Zahra Shahid Hussain was shot dead hours ahead of repolling in Karachi on May 19. Her party chief, Imran Khan, blamed the killing on Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s London-based chief-in-exile Altaf Hussain and the British government. Calls from Pakistanis and Pakistani-Brits to London police demanding action against Hussain picked up. The MQM responded by trotting out, at a 3 a.m. presser on Sunday, an old glossy which spoke of Khan’s illegimate daughter, and by serving him with a Rs. 50 billion defamation notice. Khan’s party won the country’s most contentious constituency, NA-250, in repolling, seemingly breaking the spell of the MQM (which boycotted the fresh elections) over the city. For the MQM, the hits have been coming since Election Day, May 11, when cable news channels and social media attacked it for attempting to allegedly rig the vote in Karachi—where the Election Commission said it had failed to conduct free and fair elections—and Hyderabad. Disturbed by what they said were the MQM’s strong-armed tactics on polling day, many parties announced a boycott. Protests, notably by Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, followed. Hussain shot back, and in his foot, by threatening secession if the attacks continued. “Dogs bark, but our business will continue,” he said. “If we destroy you,” he said to his critics, it will be an act of “self-defense.”
From our May 31, 2013, issue.