The Mutahhida Qaumi Movement (MQM) is still reeling from the shocking results of the 2018 elections. However, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was even more surprised, because the party didn’t think it would bag 14 National Assembly seats from Karachi, including Azizabad and North Nazimabad, considered MQM strongholds.It’s no secret that the elections were titled in PTI’s favour. MQM was the first to complain about the blatant violation of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP)’s rules. The results in Karachi and Hyderabad mysteriously stopped coming in; when only 20 per cent of the results were released, MQM was seen leading the polls in many of its constituencies. However, by morning, the party was left with four seats in Karachi and two in Hyderabad. Has Karachi opted for change or is this selective engineering to keep MQM in check? Is MQM just naturally withering away? There is probably more than meets the eye, irrespective of the serious concerns that MQM and other political parties raised about the transparency of the elections.After 30 years of unequivocal control in Karachi, MQM is no longer the major stakeholder. The cracks appeared first with their founder’s histrionics that ledthe leadership with no option but to distance itself from him completely. It was either that or saying goodbye to 30 years of rule. The party has been plagued by infighting, and nearly four months were wasted in this tug of war. Irreparable damage was done and MQM really tested the patience of it supporters and took them for granted.The results in Karachi and Hyderabad mysteriously stopped coming in; when only 20 percent of the results were released, MQM was seen leading the polls in many of its constituencies. However, by morning, the party was left with four seats in Karachi and two in HyderabadThe aftershocks were seen on election day, when people voted for their opponents in their place, including for parties such as PTI and Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP). Though there is still serious doubt on the number of votes allocated to TLP and PTI no one can deny that PTI has gained strength in the city. MQM’s manifesto talks about an empowered Pakistan. Whether they believe in their own manifesto will be seen now. The party has to reform and restructure itself, so that it can become a progressive, forward-looking political organisation. The party must undertake a serious transformation if it wants to resurrect itself in Karachi.The party should seriously look for a relatively young leader, who can become the beacon of hope for the people.The party must revisit its emphasis on Mohajir nationalism. Is it still relatable and relevant? We can’t assume that much of the urban middle class is not bothered about this, and MQM must find the common chord that touches the pulse of the people in general, and the Mohajir youth in particular. MQM must think about its own existence. What is MQM’s purpose? Why do they exist? What causes internal rifts? What is MQM standing for and against? How will it improve the lives of the people? How is MQM best suited to deliver on those tensions and opportunities to improve the lives of the people?It needs to have answers to these questions.One criticism that the party’s candidates continuously faced was about MQM’s performance in the past. Despite getting a heavy mandate from the people over the years, it failed to deliver. Now MQM must seriously think on whether it has the right team to run LG? Do they have committed, honest people with a badge of honour to deliver in the most tiring of situations? A performance audit along with a competency check on the existing team won’t be a bad idea to start with. If MQM must take some difficult decisions, this is the time to do so in every district of Karachi.In 2017, MQM challenged the local government act in the Supreme Court and pleaded to empower the mayors and town chairmen as per Article 140A of the Constitution. We are now in the second half of 2018, and MQM’s plea has not been put up for hearing. Moving forward, the only thing that can prevent a complete wipe out for the party is that it performs well ahead of the 2020 local government elections.This party is running out of time. The first warning shots have been fired. Reforms and transformations must be initiated now. MQM still has massive stakes in the city, with the entire local government till 2020 on their back. They must become proactive if they want to survive. MQM can no longer live in its past glory. The party must let go, unlearn, and move on if it really wants to survive.It is high time to wake up and smell the coffee or perish in history.The author tweets @Vaquas Alvi_.Published in Daily Times, August 11th 2018.