Faisalabad, May 25, 2014
Two shows of street muscle on the same day kept Pakistan’s cable news channels breathless with rote commentary about whether the year-old federal government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would or could stay in power. In Faisalabad on May 25, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf rally promised a ‘democratic ouster,’ through midterm elections, before the second Eid, due in a few months. The party is sticking to its allegations of widespread fraud in last year’s elections and has earnestly launched an agitation campaign. In Karachi, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, whose chief, Altaf Hussain, is self-exiled in London, protested both against Islamabad’s alleged refusal to issue Hussain a Pakistani passport and to show the U.K. that it rules Karachi and means business. The speakers addressed the British government and decried the freezing of Hussain’s bank accounts and his harassment by authorities in London. The PTI and MQM are at daggers drawn. In fact, Hussain’s predicament owes in some measure to the PTI’s phone campaign in the U.K. against him. Soon, though, both may find they are on the same twisted page.
From our May 31-June 7, 2014, issue.