33 killed in Karachi violence Kamal Siddiqi, Hindustan Times Karachi, May 01, 2009
This was written after 12 May 2007 Tragedy of Karachi-Sind, Pakistan.
No matter what MQM [Muttahida Quami Movement] claim it will remain a political party whose basic prinicples are based upon the cardinal rules of Fascism or Neo-Fascism or you may call it pure Nazi Party and its Central Coordination Committee [The Rabita Committee] The Famous Nazi Shutzstaffel of Adolf Hitler. MQM claim that the party represent 98 % population of the country that is the Middle Class and Poor people but srangely the MQM itself has become a feudal party in nature and mentality. The worst hit section of the population affected byu the MQM is the very class MQM claim to represent. When MQM leadership asked as to why they are sitting with the present regime since it also represent the Feudals and Tribal Chiefs who are in majority in PML-Q and PML-F, the simple reply ones get is this "that MQM want to bring change by remaining in the system". MQM claims that Altaf Husaain and MQM believe in the indeology of Bacha Khan i.e. Late Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan [a great leader of Indian National Congress and Leading Freedom Fighter before partition] whereas the MQM doesn't even ready to give minute political space to the Awami National Party and by the way the workers of MQM has no competition with the Pashtuns living in Karachi whatsoever as the occupations of both the
communities i.e. Pashtuns and Urdu Speaking are pole apart.
They have no clash of interests except that Mr. Altaf Hussain false ego which has been given a boast by the Military Regime of Musharraf since 1999. Mr. Altaf Hussain nowadays has adopted a new slogan of Anti-Americanism to exploit the so-called literate party base [the literate voters of MQM in Sindh] whereas the maxim which is being followed by Mr Altaf Hussain and MQM is of George W Bush [i.e. Either you are with us or against us] meaning only those citizens of Karachi will be allowed politics who are either members of MQM or Musharraf's Military regime. This can also be interpreted that MQM only accept those Middle Class and Poor People living in Sindh who are in MQM all the others can take a hike. Since MQM from 2002 enjoyed immense clout within the Pakistani Establishment courtesy Musharraf's Military Regime therefore it is requestd that MQM should do away with the exploitative slogans like "there is an establishment conspiracy to malign MQM."
On 17 Dec 2007 [as per Daily Dawn Local News] a clash took place between Awami National Party and MQM on election campaign resulted in an innocent loss of life [the person died had nothing to do with MQM or ANP]. On 18 Dec 2007 [as per Daily Dawn Local News] the MQM Rabita Committee DEMANDED;
“We demand that the Sindh governor and the caretaker chief minister take notice of this act of terrorism and order arrest of those behind the incident.”
One wonders from whom MQM is demanding the justice because Governor Sindh is MQM's member and MQM is part and parcel of General [Now Retired] Musharraf Regime since 2002 to be precise since 12 Oct 1999 and the Caretaker Regime placed by Musharraf after the impostion of emergency i.e. [martial Law and still in force] in Islamabad and in Sindh is well represented by MQM.
Who should the below mentioned should go for justice? Read and lament.
“Mr Hussain has lived in Britain since arriving in 1992 for a ‘kidney operation’. He has since become a British citizen, while his party governs five cities and the populous Sindh province. “Mr Hussain, who spent part of Sunday speaking on the telephone to Gen Musharraf, warned Pakistan’s leader not to make any deals with exiled leaders, such as his rival Miss Bhutto, that would see the military ruler resign from the army,” it added “The situation in South Asia does not allow (General) Musharraf to take off his uniform, for without it he will have no power at all. Because of activities ... in Afghanistan as well as our own country, the Taliban (influence) is growing very strong,” Mr Hussain told the Daily Telegraph. “He is doing his level best to fight these groups. (General) Musharraf is a very brave man. Only he can prevent the Talibanisation of Pakistan,” asserted Altaf in the interview.
“Unlike former prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and Miss Bhutto, Mr Hussain is an exile whose party has consolidated its grip. But Karachi remains tense. “His political addresses by telephone have been known to last up to four hours, while a Western diplomat in Pakistan described the MQM as ‘something out of Chicago – nobody leaves the party’. “While Mr Hussain promotes the party as a ‘secular’ cause and courts the middle-class vote, his supporters are known to extort a goonda tax from Karachi businesses. “Mr Hussain, who once drove a taxi in Chicago for a living, micromanages the MQM with acute attention to detail.
UK media raises question about Altaf running Karachi affairs by M. Ziauddin
June 27, 2007 Wednesday Jamadi-us-Sani 11, 1428
UK media raises question about Altaf running Karachi affairs by M. Ziauddin
June 27, 2007 Wednesday Jamadi-us-Sani 11, 1428
LONDON, May 14: The British media is wondering why Mr Altaf Hussain, a British citizen is being allowed by the UK government to run Karachi affairs, and that too through violent means.
“He has no plans to return to Pakistan,” said Daily Telegraph on Monday in a piece titled ‘Running Karachi from London’.
When the newspaper asked why Mr Hussain was not deported to Pakistan before he was granted citizenship, a British diplomat said: “He has not committed a crime on British soil.”
The newspaper said supporters of Mr Hussain, 53, whose Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) is allied to President (General) Pervez Musharraf’s government, were accused of playing a bloody part in clashes with opposition supporters.
“The man in-charge of Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, was at his usual command-and-control post at the weekend: a sofa in north London.
“As his fiefdom descended into brutal violence, with the deaths of at least 40 people reported amid the worst political bloodshed Pakistan has witnessed in years, Altaf Hussain directed his followers by telephone from a safe place, more than 5,000 miles away.
“His headquarters, or ‘international secretariat’, is not in the Pakistani port city but housed in a red-brick office block opposite a supermarket on Edgeware High Street,” the newspaper report continued. The newspaper quoted him as saying that he had called for peace.
“But as tens of thousands of his followers sat cross-legged in reverential silence as they listened to their leader’s telephonic address relayed by loudspeakers, in another street armed MQM activists fired directly into the crowds of opposition protesters.
“Mr Hussain has lived in Britain since arriving in 1992 for a ‘kidney operation’. He has since become a British citizen, while his party governs five cities and the populous Sindh province.
“Mr Hussain, who spent part of Sunday speaking on the telephone to Gen Musharraf, warned Pakistan’s leader not to make any deals with exiled leaders, such as his rival Miss Bhutto, that would see the military ruler resign from the army,” it added
“The situation in South Asia does not allow (General) Musharraf to take off his uniform, for without it he will have no power at all. Because of activities ... in Afghanistan as well as our own country, the Taliban (influence) is growing very strong,” Mr Hussain told the Daily Telegraph.
“He is doing his level best to fight these groups. (General) Musharraf is a very brave man. Only he can prevent the Talibanisation of Pakistan,” asserted Altaf in the interview.
“Unlike former prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and Miss Bhutto, Mr Hussain is an exile whose party has consolidated its grip. But Karachi remains tense.
“His political addresses by telephone have been known to last up to four hours, while a Western diplomat in Pakistan described the MQM as ‘something out of Chicago – nobody leaves the party’.
“While Mr Hussain promotes the party as a ‘secular’ cause and courts the middle-class vote, his supporters are known to extort a goonda tax from Karachi businesses.
“Mr Hussain, who once drove a taxi in Chicago for a living, micro-manages the MQM with acute attention to detail.
In the same newspaper another report titled ‘Violence as Musharraf’s power fades’ said in the (Karachi) city’s Jinnah Hospital yesterday, Adil Bashir, 23, was recovering from three bullet wounds after narrowly escaping a street execution.
“He said he had not taken part in the rally but was rounded up by armed, teenage MQM activists along with four others. He alleged that he and others were lined up against a wall before being sprayed with automatic gunfire. He and one other survived.
“The actions of the MQM may have been not so much a sign of support for the eight-year rule of Gen Musharraf, but a demonstration of its own power in what could be the first round of a new turf war in Karachi.
“Gen Musharraf’s options are becoming more and more limited as he struggles to have himself re-elected and to continue as army chief.
“His bargaining position for striking a possible power-sharing deal with the PPP leader, Benazir Bhutto, appears to be growing weaker.”
Gen Musharraf used similar words to describe the MQM rally in Karachi. Was it really a manifestation of the people’s power on Saturday that bodies were lying on Karachi’s roads with no one to pick them up? What was the president thinking? Or was he at all?
After the bloodbath
May 15, 2007 Tuesday Rabi-us-Sani 27, 1428
THE enormity of the crimes committed in Karachi on Saturday and the full extent of the damage done to the city’s social fabric now seem to be sinking in. One is appalled that the police should have abstained from their duty and disappeared without a trace, throwing a city of more than ten million to the wolves. The total chaos in the administration is evident from a top police official’s “disclosure” to a foreign news agency that he did not know who had placed containers at traffic junctions to block the movement of traffic. It would be incorrect to say that the law and order machinery had collapsed; instead, what happened was that the entire law-enforcement machinery was sidelined, allowing unidentified apparatchiks to run the show. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement and the opposition parties have blamed each other for Saturday’s killings and given lists of their “martyrs”, but for the people of Karachi the issue is far grimmer than the blame game, because the spectre of ethnic violence is haunting the city.
Since the mid-nineties, Karachi has had ethnic peace. Even though bomb blasts in mosques, attacks on foreign missions and murder of diplomats occurred, the ethnic violence that rocked the city in the eighties and the first half of the nineties appeared to belong to the past. All communities in what is called mini-Pakistan decided, and rightly, that peace and harmony were in their interest and in the interest of future generations. There have been some bitterly fought local and parliamentary elections, accompanied by violence, but there was no ethnic trouble. Saturday’s events shattered this idyll. Mercifully, the ethnic trouble was localised, and all sides appear keen to contain the menace, but one should keep one’s fingers crossed.
However, no comment on Saturday’s bloodbath would be complete without a look at the larger picture. That very day, President Pervez Musharraf addressed a massive gathering in Islamabad organised by the PML. How people were brought to the place where the president addressed them and whether they were really party workers are issues of lesser importance; what is more pertinent and perhaps shocking was the singing and dancing going on at the rally at a time when the nation’s biggest city was burning and bleeding. It would be wrong to say that those at the rally did not know what was going on in Karachi. By mid-day, thanks to the TV channels, the entire country knew about Karachi’s trauma, but the rally organisers continued with what appeared to be a celebration — which the president called a demonstration of the people’s power. Gen Musharraf used similar words to describe the MQM rally in Karachi. Was it really a manifestation of the people’s power on Saturday that bodies were lying on Karachi’s roads with no one to pick them up? What was the president thinking? Or was he at all?
On behalf of the entire nation, we demand a judicial probe into Saturday’s carnage. The crimes committed that day are too horrendous to be ignored. The nation has the right to know why the police and the fabled paramilitary Rangers disappeared, who barricaded key traffic junctions and was manning some of the roadblocks with weapons in hand, what party or organisations the killers belonged to, and whether the Sindh government did all that it did on Saturday on instructions from Islamabad to frustrate Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry’s programme in Karachi.
Blair might be dragged into controversy over Altaf's role Rauf Klasra Friday, May 18, 2007
LONDON: Prime Minister Tony Blair might be dragged into the controversy over the role of British passport holder Altaf Hussain in the recent unrest in Karachi as the UK media has turned its guns on the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and has given a prominent coverage to accusation of PTI chief Imran Khan and other opposition leaders for giving "sanctuary" to a politician whose party was linked to killings in Pakistan.
The threats of Pakistani opposition leaders to file cases in the courts of Britain against the British government for giving asylum to Altaf has also generated a lot of interest in the media. Imran's criticism of Tony Blair has been given prominent coverage in the British media on Thursday and there is strong possibility that it might echo in the House of Commons where Blair or Labour party leaders might be asked to explain the position of Britain with regard to the role of one of its citizens in the Karachi carnage.
Observers here believe that British media might create troubles for Altaf Hussain in the days to come as the statements of Pakistani politicians against the MQM and its involvement in the recent violence were being given big coverage. Altaf had obtained British passport in the 90s.
Since Saturday's killings in Karachi, the British media has already started asking serious questions from its government about the role of Altaf in the killings in Karachi. Daily Telegraph was the first British paper that had filed stories against Altaf and his role in the violence in Karachi. The next day, its reporter met Altaf at his residence and the newspaper ran a four-column story on its front page with the headline "Running Karachi from London".
Altaf who usually does not meet Pakistani journalists, spent a lot of time with the British journalist knowing how much power the media enjoyed in this country. Altaf defended the position of his party and rejected allegations that he or his party was responsible for violence in Karachi.
Despite denials by the MQM, almost all the British newspapers in their reports, comments and editorials put the blame of violence on the shoulders of MQM workers and had asked that to what extent the man running MQM from London could be responsible.
Imran in his statement accused Blair of giving sanctuary to a politician whose party he claimed was linked to killings in Pakistan at the weekend. Daily Telegraph says that armed gunmen linked to MQM are accused of sparking a series of clashes between rival groups when they opened fire on an anti-government protest.
However, Mohammed Anwar, head of international relations for the MQM, denied that Altaf had been responsible for any violence in Karachi, saying: "He is living here [Britain] since 1992 so how could he stir up violence when he is not even living in Karachi?"
Anwar pointed out that women and children joined the rallies, which the MQM organised in the city. "If we wanted to commit carnage, would we bring our mothers and sisters and daughters on to the streets with us? It simply isn't plausible." He said Imran's criticism of Altaf was motivated by the MQM's success in "making inroads into other parts of Pakistan".
Who is to blame for Karachi mayhem? Umar Cheema Saturday, May 19, 2007
ISLAMABAD: The Chief Secretary of Sindh had strongly opposed the strategy of the provincial government for May 12 while the Prime Minister’s advice to the provincial government for a judicial inquiry into the killings has been turned down, authoritative sources said on Friday. It was also revealed that the MQM had wanted to join the Islamabad rally but was stopped by the Chaudhrys of Gujrat.
Observers believe that these three important developments concerning the May 12 killings in Karachi may have a serious impact not only at the provincial level but also at the national. Sources said the Chief Secretary of Sindh, Shakeel Durrani, had strongly opposed the ‘counter productive’ strategy of the provincial government designed for May 12, the day the Chief Justice of Pakistan had gone to Karachi for addressing lawyers there. He had written in advance to his seniors, proposing that hurdles should not be created and that the CJ be given a smooth passage.
His recommendations were in clear contradiction to the Sindh Home Department, headed by former sector commander of Military Intelligence, Brig (retd) Ghulam Muhtaram. While the home department, fearing a serious law and order situation, insisted the CJ should not take the flight to Karachi, the chief secretary opposed the plan that was aimed to flop the CJ’s show, warning it would deteriorate the situation.
Shakeel Durrani had not only verbally opposed the blockade of roads but had also opposed in writing to such a plan that was prone to violence and mass-scale killings. He had instead recommended that no hurdle should be created and Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry should be allowed to go by the route he wanted to use for reaching the high court bar.
His recommendations, however, got a deaf ear from those who matter in decision-making in Sindh. Durrani is believed to have also held responsible his provincial government for Karachi mayhem, The News has learnt on good authority. While Durrani did not comment on the report when contacted by The News, another officer close to him confirmed it but refused to provide the details.
Meanwhile, the Sindh government has refused to order a judicial inquiry into the killings. The News has learnt on good authority that Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz wanted to order a judicial inquiry into the incident. He went to Karachi on Wednesday with this plan but faced opposition from his ruling allies in Sindh.
According to the sources, the PM had gone to Karachi with a plan to announce ordering judicial inquiry in a press conference after holding meetings there. Information Minister Muhammad Ali Durrani, Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao and Secretary Interior Kamal Shah had also accompanied him during this visit late Wednesday.
Sources privy to the development say the PM’s plan could not materialize following stiff opposition from his allies in Sindh who said that such an order would open up a new Pandora’s Box. The PM who had ordered judicial inquiry into the mysterious murder of Supreme Court’s additional registrar Hamad Raza, failed to do it in a case where more than 40 people had been killed in just one day, ie May 12.
Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao, when contacted to confirm about the PM plan, refused to comment. “I neither deny nor confirm this report,” he said.
Information Minister Muhammad Ali Durrani, however, termed the ordering of judicial inquiry as a legal issue. He also did not deny that the PM was planning to order a judicial inquiry but said: “I am not in knowledge of the plan”. Also, some MQM lawmakers have been heard blaming the Chaudhrys of the Gujrat for ‘pushing’ them to hold a separate rally in Karachi instead of joining the PML-Q rally in Islamabad held the same day.
They feel the May 12 incidents have left an adverse impact on their strategy to expand to other provinces so as to become a mainstream political party. The Karachi tragedy has put the MQM in dock as its offices in the Punjab and rural Sindh have faced a virtual closure following protests by the public of respective areas who blamed them for this bloodbath in Karachi.
In their background interviews, the MQM lawmakers are blaming Chaudhrys of Gujrat for putting them to ‘abuse’. They say they were not for holding a rally in Karachi. According to them, they had expressed the desire to join the PML-Q rally held in Islamabad the same day but were denied.
MQM parliamentary leader Dr Farooq Sattar, in his on-the-record discussion, has neither denied nor confirmed the claim of his party colleagues. But he said their plan to hold rally in Karachi was made after detailed deliberation.
UK students’ move against ‘hate preachers’ By M. Ziauddin
May 20, 2007 Sunday Jamadi-ul-Awwal 03, 1428
LONDON, May 19: About 25 Pakistani students studying at top UK institutions and a couple of finance and media professionals have said they plan to lobby the UK government to dissuade British citizens from fomenting and inciting trouble back home by making hate speeches over the telephone.
They met at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) here on Friday night to discuss the deteriorating political and law and order situation back home in the wake of May 12 Karachi carnage.
The students who belong to Oxford and Cambridge universities, London School of Economics and the SOAS and representing all the four provinces have styled themselves as “May 12 Group”.
The group said if any Pakistani holding dual nationality wanted to do politics in Pakistan, he/she should first give up his/her British citizenship and then return to Pakistan to lead his/her party.
They also said it was incumbent on the UK government to effectively discourage its citizens from inciting through telephonic speeches their followers in Pakistan to go on bloody rampage.
Those studying law were of the opinion that if it was illegal for British citizens to deliver hate speeches inside the UK, it should be equally illegal for them to make such speeches over the telephone and foment trouble in friendly countries.
Referring to Imran Khan’s announcement that he intended to approach the British courts against those UK citizens who, he alleged, had encouraged their political workers in Karachi to show whose city it was, come what may on May 12, the group said it would provide the Tehrik-i-Insaf chief all legal and other help he would need in this regard.The group is also planning to publish leaflets recounting in black and white the May 12 carnage, stage walks, hold seminars and lobby MPs of all political parties here to mobilise public opinion in favour of their mission.
Amnesty demands inquiry into May 12 killings By Our Special Correspondent
May 24, 2007 Thursday Jamadi-ul-Awwal 07, 1428
LONDON, May 23: Amnesty International (AI) has sent letters to the federal and the Sindh governments asking them to institute an independent inquiry into the May 12 killings in Karachi and mete out exemplary punishment to the perpetrators of the crime.
AI Secretary-General Irene Khan, while releasing its 2007 report on the state of human rights in various parts of the world at a press conference here on Wednesday, said it was the government’s responsibility to protect the life and property of its citizens and, therefore, it could not abdicate this responsibility on any excuse.
The information about AI’s letters to the federal and provincial governments was disclosed by Angelika Pathek, spokesperson for the AI on Pakistan.
The report’s chapter on Pakistan said scores of people suffered arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances in the country during the year.
“Victims included terror suspects, Baloch and Sindhi nationalists and journalists, the report said.
It said unlawful killings were carried out with impunity, while the blasphemy laws were used to persecute members of minorities and ‘honour’ killings continued to be reported.
According to the report, tribal and religious councils unlawfully exercised judicial functions and enforced cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments.
At least 446 people were sentenced to death. The number of executions reported, 82, including one juvenile, was a steep increase from the previous year, said the report.
“While the confrontation between the army and nationalist activists intensified in Balochistan province, in the tribal areas the government agreed a peace pact with tribal elders and local Taliban. The September agreement apparently allowed tribal fighters to find shelter and to set up quasi-governmental structures, collect taxes, impose their ‘penal code’ and exercise quasi-judicial functions.
“Some people were publicly executed by vigilante groups seeking to impose their own interpretation of Islamic norms. More than 100 people were killed in the tribal areas, apparently for cooperating with the government. Many decapitated bodies were found with notes warning others not to support the government.
“The dialogue with India faltered when Indian police accused Pakistan of involvement in bomb blasts in Mumbai and Pakistan accused India of supporting Baloch nationalists. It resumed towards the end of the year.
“Scores of people suspected of links to terrorist groups, Baloch or Sindhi activists, and journalists were arbitrarily detained and subjected to enforced disappearance. State agents denied knowledge of whereabouts to relatives and when questioned in court during habeas corpus hearings. Those released reported being tortured and ill-treated.”
The Report named Abdur Rahim Muslim Dost, an Afghan settled in Pakistan, and Munir Mengal, director of the first independent Balochi-language TV channel, as two of those still missing without any trace.
“Impunity for unlawful killings of suspected criminals and political opponents of the government contributed to their increase. In June, journalist Hayatullah Khan was found shot dead in North Waziristan. In January, between 13 and 18 people were reportedly unlawfully killed by missiles fired from US drones in the tribal areas, and in October, at least 82 people died in a similar attack.
“In both attacks children were reportedly killed. State officials described the victims as ‘militants’ but had made no attempts to arrest them or to stop their activities.
“In October, officials claimed that Pakistani helicopters alone had carried out the attack, despite witnesses describing bomb explosions 20 minutes before the helicopters arrived. No investigation was carried out.
“At least 44 registered cases of blasphemy were reported during 2006. Blasphemy cases took years to conclude. The accused were rarely released on bail and were often ill-treated in detention. A Catholic bishop committed suicide to protest at the targeting of Christians.
“Honour killings, domestic violence, including maiming, and harmful traditional practices continued at a high level. Jirgas, which the Sindh High Court had banned in 2004, continued to ‘sentence’ girls and women to cruel punishments. In Mardan and Swabi districts, 60 girls and women were handed over to their families’ opponents to settle conflicts and as compensation for murder in three months in mid-2006.
“The appeal against the Lahore High Court judgment of December 2004 which declared the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance (JJSO) unconstitutional, remained pending. The temporarily reinstated JJSO continued to be poorly implemented as many areas remained without parole officers, the number of juvenile courts remained insufficient and in some areas there were none. Juveniles continued to be tried with adults.
“Some 446 people were sentenced to death, mostly for murder. Eighty-two people were executed, mostly in Punjab. Mutabar Khan, believed to be 16 at the time of an alleged murder in 1996, was executed in Peshawar Central Prison in June 2006.
“International relief agencies said that many earthquake related reconstruction programmes faced funding deficits and delays due to administrative difficulties and lack of information about victims’ needs,” the report said.
Muttahida’s swinging pendulum By Maheen A. Rashdi METRO VOICE
May 27, 2007 Sunday Jamadi-ul-Awwal 10, 1428
KARACHI: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement seems to have messed up in a big way this time. If the issue wasn’t so grim, the incoherent statements made by its “leaders” would have made a comic story. Post May 12, there has been a constant trickle of discordant statements issued from Karachi and London, each setting off a fresh controversy. A better example of the expression –- “shooting yourself in the foot” -– will be difficult to find.
The reaction to the May 12 bloodbath in Karachi has perhaps taken the establishment by surprise, if not by shock. This time Karachiites have shown more than just resilience and that was an eventuality not taken into consideration when the May 12 ‘event’ was being planned. As public outcry reverberated from Karachi to Khyber -- and subsequently found its way to the United Kingdom – inconsiderate political leaders started to expose themselves to odium and ridicule as they spun a paradoxical web of betrayal under the relentless glare of the media.
To recap, just days after the Karachi killings, Sindh Home Secretary Brigadier (Retd) Ghulam Mohammed Mohtaram and the Adviser to the Sindh Chief Minister on Home Affairs Waseem Akhtar categorically declared that they had given right orders for May 12 to all the law enforcement agencies in Karachi.
As government functionaries responsible for law and order, both the ‘honourable’ gents declared on record that if the ‘measures’ they had taken had not been in place that day, “thousands would have died”. By the word “measures” it was further explained that it was these representatives of the MQM in the government who had decided to block the city and disarm the police and Rangers.
But, soon after these statements were splashed far and wide came the startling question from MQM chief Mr Altaf Hussain in his open letter addressed to “Patriotic Pakistanis” from London: “Where were the police and Rangers on May 12 during the bloodbath?”
With public outcry gaining momentum rather than dying down, the same contradiction continued at successive press conferences, where blame and accusation shifted back and forth from law enforcement agencies to “other” elements involved in the mayhem.
It is obvious that the ruling coalition was not prepared for the current reaction of Karachiites and the support from Punjab and the NWFP when it was planning the May 12 display of power play.
The latest disagreement within the party has exposed an even more serious lack of coordination as the MQM coordination committee has disowned the statement issued by its allied organisation, the Mohajir Rabita Council, which issued a press release on May 22 that included a list of journalists described as “chauvinistic”, among other insults.
With Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad doing his utmost to calm down opposition members -- as is obvious from his meetings with ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan, Naib Amir of the Jamaat-i-Islami Ghafoor Ahmed and Sindh Pakistan People’s Party president Syed Qaim Ali Shah -- the Council’s statement again belies all good intentions (if any) of the MQM leaders in government who are trying to salvage their position at this crucial pre-election juncture. And then, there is the ‘three option’ statement given by the Muttahida coordination committee after a ‘marathon session’ of meetings held in London.
The options are: the MQM members in the federal ministries might resign; the MQM members in both the federal and provincial ministries might resign; and the MQM members in the assemblies might join the opposition.
Political analysts can’t wait to see which way the party’s pendulum will eventually swing. But then there is the ever-present hand of the party’s guardian angel in the form of the president who has continually been asking the coalition partners to support the MQM. You can’t clap with one hand, after all.
PAKISTAN Troubled polity NIRUPAMA SUBRAMANIAN Volume 24 - Issue 10 :: May. 19-Jun. 01, 2007 INDIA'S NATIONAL MAGAZINE from the publishers of THE HINDU
With the violence in Karachi, the demand for the reinstatement of a judge hasbecome an agitation for the removal of a President.
AS the late-night flight from Islamabad taxied to a halt at Karachi's Jinnah International Airport, mobile phones began bleeping on the plane. Nothing unusual in that, except that passengers soon realised they were getting near-identical messages: All roads in the city blocked; impossible to get out of the airport; stay put until the situation improves.
It was 1.40 a.m. on May 12, about 11 hours before Pakistan Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary was due to arrive in Karachi, the country's most populated city, to address the Sindh High Court Bar Association later in the day. The event was expected to attract thousands of lawyers, besides opposition activists and members of the public rallying to express support for the Chief Justice, who has been "non-functional" since March 9 following a presidential reference against him on charges of misconduct and abuse of authority.
The attempt to remove Chaudhary has triggered President Pervez Musharraf's biggest domestic crisis since 1999. The Chief Justice's decision to stay on and fight his ouster in court and on the streets led to an agitation spearheaded by the legal community, which demanded the withdrawal of the reference and Chaudhary's reinstatement and widened rapidly into a demand for the removal of Musharraf from the presidency.
Only a week before his scheduled visit to Karachi, Chaudhary received a rapturous welcome in Lahore. All along the historic Grand Trunk Road from Islamabad, people lined up to welcome his motorcade, which grew as it snaked from one small town or village to the next. The 275-km journey took 25 hours to complete. The city stayed awake through the night waiting for the motorcade to arrive. The show panicked Musharraf and his government.
Karachi's legal community and opposition parties promised to make his visit to their city as, if not more, spectacular. "Sindh is known for its 300-year-old tradition of hospitality and, inshallah, we will welcome the Chief Justice in keeping with this tradition," said Naeem Qureshi, secretary-general of the Karachi Bar Association, three days before the event.
Musharraf speaks from behind a bullet-proof barrier at the ruling party rally in Islamabad on May 12.
As opposition parties too announced plans to welcome the Chief Justice at the airport and escort him into the city, the possibility grew that the zeal of Lahore might repeat itself in Karachi. That was when the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) stepped in to prevent another show of strength by Chaudhary, the legal community and the opposition parties.
The MQM is Karachi's most powerful political force. With the 2002 elections, it became a Musharraf ally, a partner of the Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid)-led ruling coalition at the Centre and the dominant partner of the same party in the Sindh provincial government. It considers Karachi its own turf.
Built on an ethnic base of Urdu-speakers who migrated from India at Partition, the MQM earned notoriety for the wave of violence that swept Karachi in the early 1990s. After Operation Clean Up in 1992, which saw its leader Altaf Hussain flee to London, where he has lived since, the party managed to thrive, demonstrating in every election that it was a force to reckon with.
Within days of 9/11, the MQM held a rally in Karachi, said to have been attended by 2,00,000 people, to express support for the United States' "war on terror" and to strengthen the hand of Musharraf at a time of great internal opposition to his pro-US policies. Its thuggish tactics nothwithstanding, the MQM boldly proclaims itself the only secular party in Pakistan, and still gets votes. In its quest to make national inroads, it changed its name from the Mohajir Qaumi Movement - "mohajir" means refugee, and in this case stands for migrants to Pakistan from India - to the Muttahida (United) Qaumi Movement.
When Altaf Hussain, Altaf bhai to his supporters, announced from London that the party would take out a rally on the same day as the scheduled arrival of Chief Justice Chaudhary, it was clear to anyone familiar with Karachi that these would not be two parallel peaceful events.
Lawyers surround suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary outside his residence in Islamabad as he leaves for Karachi on May 12.
The MQM said it also stood for the independence of the judiciary and would rally to demand that the judiciary be freed from the clutches of the opposition parties, which were using the Chaudhary issue for political gain.
The Sindh government asked Chaudhary to postpone his visit, saying it expected violence. The Chaudhary camp said that the Chief Justice was proceeding according to a plan drawn up much earlier to address Sindh High Court lawyers on the occasion of the Supreme Court's 50th anniversary. They said the Sindh government should ask the MQM to call off its rally.
From the roadblocks, it was clear that the MQM was not as interested in holding its own rally as it was in preventing the Chief Justice from leaving the Karachi airport. Huge container trucks, buses, tankers and other heavy vehicles were packed tightly across every few 100 metres of every important road in the city. This correspondent managed to leave the airport in the pre-dawn hours of May 12 only with the assistance of an MQM office-bearer, who introduced himself at every blockade, and managed to get a bus moved here and a truck moved there to squeeze his car through. Where that was impossible, those manning the blockades gave directions to alternative routes into town.
The mayhem began a few hours later and coincided with the touchdown of the aeroplane carrying Chief Justice Chaudhary. Small processions of opposition parties, such as Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and the Awami National Party of Pashtuns (a significant force in multi-ethnic Karachi), tried to break through the barriers on Sharah-e-Faisal, the arterial road between the airport and the city. Gun battles broke out between groups. Gunmen on rooftops of apartment buildings shot at people on the roads. The injured lay unattended for hours alongside the dead because ambulances were unable to reach them through the blockades.
The Pakistan Rangers, an elite paramilitary force entrusted with a good amount of Karachi's law enforcement, could be seen in substantial numbers with the local police in several places, but they did nothing to stop the violence. As lawyers went in procession from the City Court, which houses the sessions courts, to the Sindh High Court to await the arrival of the Chief Justice, mobs threw stones at them and fired into the air. The action the police took was to detain the lawyers.
Elsewhere in the city, the building of Aaj, a private television station whose licence the government threatened to cancel in April for its coverage of the political crisis, came under gunfire for close to six hours. Viewers saw its star anchor, Talat Hussain, pleading live from inside the building for law-enforcers to come to the rescue of the station, but to no avail.
The MQM showed it was the "boss" in Karachi. At the end of the day, the city was reeling with 33 dead and over 150 injured. More would succumb to their injuries, and when the violence continued for a second day, the death toll went up to 41.
At the airport, another drama was unfolding with the noon arrival of Chief Justice Chaudhary on board a regular Pakistan International Airways flight from Islamabad. As he and his entourage of about 25 lawyers got off the aircraft, the Sindh Inspector-General of Police and a Rangers officer were standing by. They told him that a helicopter was waiting to take him to the Sindh High Court.
Chaudhary said he wanted his hosts from the Karachi Bar Association to be permitted to come to the airport and that he would go into town only with them. He also refused to go anywhere without his team. At this point, the Inspector-General and other police officers reportedly tried to hustle the Chief Justice into a car. His lawyer, Aitzaz Ahsan, and others in the entourage resisted the police and took him to a lounge in the airport.
Ahsan, a frontline member of the PPP and an articulate parliamentarian, later said the lawyers travelling with the Chief Justice had foiled an attempt by the Sindh government to "kidnap" Chaudhary.
Soon afterward, the Sindh Interior Secretary (a portfolio held by the MQM) reached the airport and delivered an ultimatum: either the Chief Justice take the waiting helicopter to keep his engagement at the Sindh High Court or he returned to Islamabad. Chaudhary refused to do either and said he would leave the airport only by road to Karachi.
At Lahore High Court, Lawyers greet Justice Chaudhary on May 6.
Meanwhile, the Sindh High Court Chief Justice summoned the police and asked them to clear the blockades on Sharah-e-Faisal to enable Chaudhary to take the road. But the police said they were helpless and unable to implement the order.
Outside the Arrivals terminal, journalists, including this correspondent, waited in large numbers in case Chaudhary should emerge suddenly. Behind them, plumes of smoke rose up to the sky from the main road - a tell-tale sign that the violence on Sharah-e-Faisal was such that even if the Chief Justice came out, he would not be able to take the road to the High Court.
The standoff continued through the day.
Late in the afternoon, MQM activists arrived in large numbers at a place in the city called Tibet Centre, where Altaf bhai addressed them over the telephone from London. Stumped by its own blockades, the party could not gather the crowds that it is known to muster usually, but it was still an impressive show.
Hussain reminded the Chief Justice that he had betrayed the Constitution by taking an oath under Musharraf's Provisional Constitutional Order in 2000. He challenged him to resign and apologise to the nation for this, and only then step forward to lead the struggle for the independence of the judiciary. From his office in London's Edgware Road, he said political and religious parties in the opposition were "conspiring" to use the Chief Justice to dissolve the government.
The MQM leader blamed Chaudhary for the violence and said no violent incidents had taken place until his flight landed at Karachi.
At the Sindh High Court premises, hundreds of lawyers who had managed to reach there waited for the Chief Justice. The stage was ready, and chairs had been laid out on the lawns. Rose petals in huge plastic bags, meant to shower the Chief Justice with when he arrived, wilted in the May heat inside the lounge. Lawyers huddled around television sets, watching live coverage of the day's events on several channels. At one point late in the afternoon, as the cameras showed Altaf Hussain addressing the MQM rally, loud boos and jeers and cries of "shame, shame" went up from the lawyers. As the lawyers continued their vigil late into the evening, the Sindh High Court Bar Association president, Abrar Hassan, said, "We will keep waiting for our guest, whether it takes him two days to get here or four days."
Eventually, the lawyers dispersed late that night after the Chief Justice announced that he was returning to Islamabad. By then, his entourage had been served deportation orders to leave Sindh province. Having proved the point that the provincial government had not been able to facilitate his entry into Karachi, Chaudhary called off his sit-in at the airport.
By 6 p.m., the police and the Rangers could be seen supervising the removal of the vehicles that were blocking the roads.
From Karachi, television viewers could see President Musharraf addressing a rally in Islamabad organised by the PML(Q). All day, as Karachi burnt, vehicles carrying PML(Q) supporters poured into the federal capital for the rally, which the PML(Q) had pledged would be bigger than Chaudhary's Lahore meeting. When Musharraf addressed the gathering, it was late at night. Like Altaf Hussain, he held the Chief Justice responsible for the violence in Karachi. He also said that the MQM rally in Karachi and the one he was addressing in Islamabad were a "clear demonstration of support for him and his policies".
Battle lines drawn
Events in Karachi have drawn the political battle lines in Pakistan even more firmly. The violence has united the opposition like never before. And what was an agitation for the reinstatement of a judge has now become an agitation for the removal of a President. The strike called by the opposition on May 14 was observed in full in Karachi and affected life in all major cities. Traders and shopkeepers, seen as Musharraf's natural constituency, said on television that they wanted to register their anger at what happened in Karachi.
Musharraf has also shown that he is determined to fight back, but, in doing so, he has considerably narrowed his manoeuvring space. Talk of a deal between Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto has ended. As long as he projected the judicial crisis as "purely a judicial and constitutional matter" that would be decided within the four walls of a courtroom, he could paint the political agitation as unjustified and unreasonable.
Allowing himself to be drawn out on to the streets was a tacit acceptance of the opposition argument that the government action against the Chief Justice was about the larger question of whether or not he should continue. By permitting, and even encouraging, a political ally to prevent the Chief Justice from entering the city, the President showed the extent of his political insecurity.
While the MQM has no image to lose, the violence in Karachi has damaged Musharraf the most. The ethnic party has given a new dimension to the crisis. The bloodletting pitted the MQM's Urdu-speakers against the ANP's Pashtun followers - Pashtuns were the majority of the dead - and to some extent against the Punjabis and the Sindhis. The ANP called a three-day strike in Karachi from May 27. At the national level, the President's actions have brought accusations that as Army Chief and an Urdu-speaker, he used the ethnic card to ward off his troubles.
A demonstration in Peshawar on May 14. Similar protests by opposition parties and lawyers occurred in major cities including Lahore, Quetta, Peshawar and Mansehra.
The Supreme Court stayed the proceedings of the five-judge panel known as the Supreme Judicial Council that was hearing the government's March 9 reference against Chaudhary. A full court is hearing Chaudhary's constitutional petition challenging the reference. While the government says that the pro-Chaudhary camp is putting pressure on the judiciary through its street protests, a court official was shot in his home and Chaudhary's lawyers say it was a targeted killing. The official was reported to have been under immense pressure to depose against Chaudhary.
Both in the courtroom and outside, it appears to be a no-holds-barred battle from now on. Those on Chaudhary's side say they are fighting for the restoration of a constitutional democracy. Musharraf is fighting to stay on in power. Some analysts believe that Musharraf could still defuse the crisis by calling early parliamentary elections - due at the end of this year - so that opposition energies are diverted. But this option is fraught with the danger of a defeat at the hustings if the elections are free and fair.
Any outcome to the crisis will also depend on how much the military, as an institution, feels threatened. Even though protesters have focussed on Musharraf - the refrain of the agitation was "Go Musharraf go" - slogans have also been raised against the "uniform" for the first time.
The Karachi ruling party 'run like the mafia' from an office block in London· MQM accused of planning carnage which left 42 dead · Khan calls for leader in UK to face anti-terror charges by Declan Walsh in Karachi and Matthew Taylor The Guardian, Saturday 2 June 2007
Outside may be Karachi but inside the discreetly guarded room all minds are focused on London. The clock is set to British summer time and a pair of telephones connect to an office 5,000 miles away, from where a controversial Pakistani leader runs his political empire.
Altaf Hussain leads the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) - a powerful, popular and, critics say, thuggish political force that has a vice-like grip on Karachi. At "Nine Zero", the party headquarters in a middle-class suburb, his presence looms large. A giant poster hangs over the entrance and reverential acolytes speak of "Altaf bhai", or brother. But the great leader is missing.
For the past 16 years Mr Hussain has lived in self-imposed exile in the UK, first as an asylum seeker and now as a British citizen. Based in an office block on Edgware High Street in north London he rules by phone, directing his closest lieutenants in long, late-night conversations. But in Pakistan that arrangement has become a matter of controversy - one about to land at the British government's door.
Yesterday the cricketer turned politician Imran Khan arrived in London to try to have Mr Hussain prosecuted under British anti-terror laws. Three weeks ago gunmen opened fire on a rally in support of the chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, triggering a day of bloodshed that left 42 people dead. Mr Khan - as well as lawyers, human rights activists and opposition parties - accuse Mr Hussain of orchestrating the carnage from his sofa in London.
"The whole thing was planned. No British citizen is allowed to sit in London and direct terrorist operations abroad. So why should Altaf Hussain?" said Mr Khan who described the MQM as "a fascist movement run by criminals".
If Pakistan has to arrest al-Qaida operatives then Britain has an obligation to pick up Mr Hussain, added Mr Khan, who plans to bring a petition to Downing Street. "There's a war on terror going on but here we have Pakistan's No 1 terrorist being given sanctuary by the British government," he said.
The MQM denies the charges, and insists it was the victim and not the perpetrator of May 12. The party says 13 of its own activists were among the dead, and last week it produced a video from May 12 showing apparent supporters of the rival Pakistan People's party firing their guns in the air. "This is a conspiracy against us. Our decision to hold a rally on May 12 may be open to criticism, but we were not involved in armed attacks," said Dr Farooq Sattar, head of the party in Pakistan.
But Mr Hussain has little to say. At the MQM's "International Secretariat" on Edgware High Street - a red brick office block opposite a supermarket - a party official said the leader was not available for comment. But he was happy to show the Guardian around the offices, which he confirmed was Mr Hussain's London headquarters, and he vowed to repel any court action by Mr Khan.
The fight is getting personal. Back in Karachi graffiti slurs against Imran Khan appeared on walls and the MQM-dominated local government has banned him from the city for one month.
The MQM was founded in 1984 by Mr Hussain, a former Chicago cab driver, and won broad support among the "mohajirs" - Muslims who fled India after partition in 1947. The party prided itself on its well-oiled machine and its secular, liberal outlook. But it was also linked to extortion, gun smuggling and South African crime networks, according to a senior police officer speaking on condition of anonymity. "That's what happens when a political party is run like the mafia," he said.
Local reporters have a rich store of-tales from the 1990s. One said she found a severed hand as a warning in her front garden, another was kidnapped from his home.
But since it entered a coalition government with President Pervez Musharraf in 2002, the party has projected a different image based on secularism, economic development and support for the "war on terror". Moderates such as the Karachi mayor, Mustafa Kamal, boast of new roads, sewage systems and billions of pounds in fresh investment. "MQM believes in every sect and religion. We are against extremism. We were the first people on the streets after 9/11," he said.
But since May 12 the party's aspirations of becoming a national force lie in shreds, and there are worrying echoes of past tactics. On Tuesday, three Karachi journalists with foreign news agencies found unmarked envelopes containing a single bullet on their car windscreens. Two of them had earlier been denounced as "anti-mohajir" by the MQM-linked Muhajir Rabita Council.
Will Mr Hussain ever come home? At Nine Zero, where beefy young men with baseball caps stand guard, there is little sign. "We do not want him to come back to Karachi; it is too dangerous here," said parliamentarian Faisal Subzwari.
But there is always hope. A few doors down Mr Hussain's deserted terraced house is waiting, protected by blastproof metal shutters. For now, though, it has just one occupant - a 24-hour telephone operator.
UK paper blames MQM for May 12 carnage Rauf Klasra Sunday, June 03, 2007
LONDON: Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain is facing the danger of being tried in the UK courts over terrorism charges after the British media declared on Saturday that the MQM is run like the mafia from an office block in London amid accusations that the party had planned (the May 12) carnage which left 42 dead.
This was declared in the findings of an investigative report of The Guardian. The MQM chief refused to meet its reporter when he tried to get his version on all these charges. His refusal strengthened the British media's view that the MQM is run like the mafia and whatever was being said about the party in Pakistan carried a lot of weight.
On the eve of arrival of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan in London to file cases against the MQM chief, the UK media also splashed his demand that Altaf should face anti-terror charges.
The Daily Telegraph was the first paper to run a four-column front page story against Altaf, headlined, Running Karachi from London. The Guardian had assigned two of its reporters to investigate charges against the MQM and its chief Altaf Hussain. One of them went to Karachi and the other visited the MQM's London office to meet Altaf in his party office. The first reporter visited Altaf's residence in Karachi and found only one telephone operator running the house. The second reporter was shown only certain rooms of the MQM office in London and told that Altaf Bhai was not available to meet him.
According to The Guardian, outside may be Karachi but inside the discreetly guarded room all minds are focused on London. The clock is set to British summer time and a pair of telephones connect to an office 5,000 miles away, from where a controversial leader runs his political empire.
Altaf Hussain leads the Muttahida Qaumi Movement -- a powerful, popular and, critics say, thuggish political force that has a vice-like grip on Karachi. At "Nine Zero", the party headquarters in Karachi, his presence looms large. A giant poster hangs over the entrance and reverential acolytes speak of "Altaf Bhai". But the great leader is missing.
The Guardian writes that for the past 16 years, Altaf has lived in self-imposed exile in the UK, first as an asylum seeker and now as a British citizen. Based in an office block on Edgware High Street in north London he rules by phone, directing his closest lieutenants in long, late-night conversations. But in Pakistan that arrangement has become a matter of controversy -- one about to land at the British government's door.
The Guardian said cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan arrived in London to try to have Altaf prosecuted under British anti-terror laws. Three weeks ago gunmen opened fire on a rally in support of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, triggering a day of bloodshed that left 42 people dead. Imran -- as well as lawyers, human rights activists and opposition parties -- accuse Altaf of orchestrating the carnage from his sofa in London.
"The whole thing was planned. No British citizen is allowed to sit in London and direct terrorist operations abroad. So why should Altaf Hussain?" said Imran Khan who described the MQM as a fascist movement run by criminals. "If Pakistan has to arrest al-Qaeda operatives, then Britain has an obligation to pick up Altaf," added Imran, who plans to bring a petition to Downing Street. "There's a war on terror going on but here we have Pakistan's No 1 terrorist being given sanctuary by the British government," he said.
The MQM denies the charges, and insists it was the victim and not the perpetrator of May 12. The party says 13 of its own activists were among the dead, and last week it produced a video from May 12 showing apparent supporters of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) firing their guns in the air. "This is a conspiracy against us. Our decision to hold a rally on May 12 may be open to criticism, but we were not involved in armed attacks," said Dr Farooq Sattar, deputy convener of the MQM's Rabita Committee.
But Altaf has little to say. At the MQM's International Secretariat on Edgware High Street -- a red brick office block opposite a supermarket -- a party official said the leader was not available for comment. But he was happy to show the Guardian around the offices, which he confirmed was Altaf's London headquarters, and he vowed to repel any court action by Imran.
The fight is getting personal. Back in Karachi, graffiti slurs against Imran appeared on walls and the MQM-dominated local government has banned him from the city for one month. The report said the MQM was founded in 1984 by Altaf, a former Chicago cab driver, and won broad support among the Mohajirs. The party prided itself on its well-oiled machine and its secular, liberal outlook. But since May 12 the party's aspirations of becoming a national force lie in shreds, and there are worrying echoes of past tactics.
On Tuesday, three Karachi journalists with foreign news agencies found unmarked envelopes containing a single bullet on their car windscreens. Two of them had earlier been denounced as anti-Mohajir by the MQM-linked Muhajir Rabita Council.
The Guardian asks, "Will Mr Hussain ever come home?" At Nine Zero, where beefy young men with baseball caps stand guard, there is little sign. "We do not want him to come back to Karachi; it is too dangerous here," said parliamentarian Faisal Subzwari. But there is always hope. A few doors down Altaf's deserted terraced house is waiting, protected by blast proof metal shutters. For now, though, it has just one occupant -- a 24-hour telephone operator.
New UK laws might affect Altaf’s telephonic addresses Rauf Klasra Tuesday, June 05, 2007
LONDON: The new proposed powers to British police to use telephonic conversations as evidence in a court of law might land Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain in hot waters, or at least greatly affect his regular telephonic addresses to his followers in Pakistan.
The British government has been bringing sweeping anti-terrorism laws to use telephonic addresses, secret conversations and email messages of individuals as strong evidence in the courts on the pattern of American and European laws.
After the enactment of these new laws at least Altaf would be required to be very careful in choosing his words as these might be used as evidence by police, if someone accuses him of inciting violence.
Pakistani opposition leaders, particularly Imran Khan, are already levelling allegations against Altaf for inciting violence in Pakistan through his telephonic addresses during the last 16 years since he arrived here in 1992.
Parts of the proposals will be laid out in more detail on Thursday, when the outgoing home secretary, John Reid, will announce a consultation on the terrorism bill due this autumn. They include detaining suspects for more than four weeks without charge, allowing questioning after charge and the use of intercept evidence.
It is understood here that regular telephonic addresses of Altaf Hussain from London to Karachi were recorded by the secret agencies of Britain. But under the current laws, these conversations could not be produced as evidence in courts of law.
According to available details of these proposals, now material gathered from intercepts, and transcripts of telephone and email conversations would be admissible in evidence in criminal trials. Currently, patterns of phone contacts — who called who, and how often — can be used as evidence, and lengthy schedules of calls are a common feature of criminal trials.
At present telephonic conversation or emails can only be used as intelligence, which may act as a springboard for an evidence-gathering investigation. This prohibition has been enshrined in law since the 1980s.
One of the proposals says police should be able to question terror suspects who have been charged and are awaiting trial. Under current law, police can arrest someone for an offence when the person is facing trial for a completely separate offence. However, the police are not allowed to question the person about the offence they have already been charged with, even if evidence emerges that was not available before they were charged. The shutter comes down when someone is charged.
Another proposal is to make terrorism an aggravating factor in sentencing, in the same way that racial motivation is. This would have the greatest effect in cases that spin off from core terrorism inquiries, such as benefit or passport fraud, where there is intelligence about terror links but no obvious crimes of violence. Police want these lesser offences to be punished more severely if they can show the fraud was to help terrorists.
One proposal calls for greater public scrutiny of the heads of MI5 and MI6. Currently, they are overseen by the Intelligence and Security Committee, which reports to the prime minister and conducts its work in secret.
CPNE slates adviser’s remarks
May 24, 2006 Wednesday Rabi-us-Sani 25, 1427
KARACHI, May 23: The Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors has severely criticised “unprovoked and reprehensible” remarks made by the adviser to the Sindh chief minister on information and archives, Salahuddin Haider, against the chief executive of Dawn.
A press statement issued on Tuesday says the CPNE has decided not to invite the adviser to any CPNE event either in his official or personal capacity until the matter was satisfactorily resolved “either by the issue of a public apology by the official concerned or by his removal from the official post”.
It says no CPNE delegation will meet the adviser and will, instead, directly meet the chief executive of the province.
“The CPNE wishes to formally lodge a complaint against the reprehensible behaviour, words and actions of the adviser to the Sindh chief minister on information and archives, Salahuddin Haider, who is a Muttahida Quami Movement appointee in the coalition government of Sindh.” His behaviour, the statement says, exceeds all acceptable norms of decency and what is expected from an official of a government that purports to believe in the freedom of press as contained in Article 19 of the Constition.
The statement says Mr Haider has attempted to force the Dawn Group to change its reasonable and varied reporting of activities of the Sindh government and his party, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, by resorting to restrict and ban government advertisement.
It also notes that at various points he has threatened journalists, employees and functionaries at the Dawn Group of Newspapers.
“Firstly, the information adviser must be asked to publicly apologize for his remarks with respect to the chief executive of Dawn which were unprovoked and reprehensible in the extreme. The fact that he has failed to do so up to this point and has continued to make noisy threats behind the scenes is further proof of the fact that he needs to be reined in.”
The CPNE has also asked “the Sindh chief minister, the federal minister and the prime minister” to reprimand the adviser about his “unacceptable behaviour”. It has also urged the MQM leadership to reprimand the adviser.
SUMMARY FEBRUARY 1996 AI INDEX: ASA 33/01/96 DISTR: SC/CO