Ali Raza Abidi – a rare politician (July 6, 1972 to December 25, 2018)

The tolerant, soft-spoken and pro-peace former lawmaker of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-P (MQM-P) was shot at and injured outside his house in Karachi Defence late on December 25, 2018. His family says he was to dine out with them on that night and for that reason, he was home to pick them when two motorcyclists stole his life with a few bullet fires and fled.

Abidi came to the limelight in 2013 when he contested elections for NA-251 on an MQM ticket at a time when the party was being controlled from its London office of Altaf Husain. Insiders say he was brought to the MQM fold at the place of Syed Haider Abbas Rizvi, who left the electoral arena because of his dual nationality. The MQM of those times kept sectarian and ethnic balance in party’s electoral slots.  The first-time MNA kept the party line when a fierce operation was launched by Rangers in Karachi in 2014. He did not look around when the Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) was launched in Karachi, and MQM diehards ‘joined’ it in droves. In those times, Abidi worked for the party identity, and at one point when the MQM-PSP alliance was installed by the establishment, Abidi announced quitting his NA seat. Without grimace or mining the words, Abidi opposed establishment-driven alliance.

His politics was above the power corridor. In 2018, when most of the powerful factions and people left MQM convener Farooq Sattar and joined the Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui camp, Abidi held the ground. He was, however, an MQM candidate for the July 25 elections from NA-243 constituency, where Prime Minister Imran Khan was the candidate. It was a difficult constituency but Abidi braved the fight and accepted defeat with grace. In September, he tendered his resignation from the MQM-Pakistan’s basic membership citing personal reasons.

The post-MQM Abidi was a more vocal peace preacher, anti-extremism, and forward-looking. He is not around to confirm or deny the reports that he was going to join the PPP, but his activism on social and mainstream electronic media showed that he wanted to remain in the political swim to chip in his share for a peaceful society.

Other than politics, Abidi was a restaurateur and ran ‘Biryani of the Seas’, a popular eatery in Karachi. He studied marketing at Boston University in the United States and also attended Iqra University in Karachi, according to his Facebook profile.

The murder of Abidi points to changing trends of Karachi. After a brief lull, the city is turning to violence. On Sunday, two PSP   workers were murdered in Rizvia Society. Though it has yet to be established if the spat of killings is sectarian or targeted, PTI leaders have started pointing fingers to Altaf Husain.

Law-enforcement agencies will find a clue in their search for the killers of Abidi, but the Pakistani society will surely miss the rare politician who made his name for his pro-peace approach in a short span of time. Why life is so unkind to us as we are losing the voices of reason and peace one after another.

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