KARACHI: The United Kingdom Under-secretary Foreign Affairs Alistair Burt telephoned Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad on Wednesday and discussed the law and order situation in Karachi. The present political situation of Pakistan and of Karachi, in particular, also came under discussion between the two. Burt lauded the efforts ofMQM chief Altaf Hussain in the restoration of peace in the metropolis. He gave an assurance that the UK was ready to help Pakistan in any way to achieve political stability and for the restoration of peace in Karachi. Burt also appreciated the role of all stakeholders in Karachi who are making efforts to restore peace. Ebad apprised Burt that the government was fully cognisant of the situation in Karachi and action was being taken against criminal elements. REFERENCE: Ebad, UK official discuss Karachi situation our correspondent Thursday, August 04, 2011 http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=7875&Cat=13
KARACHI: In a speech marked by a discernible reduction of bellicosity, Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain said on Wednesday that the Army and the Rangers be deployed in Karachi on a full-time basis to stop it from frequently descending into violence. Mr Hussain set alarm bells ringing late on Tuesday night when he asked the beleaguered people of Karachi — where more than 300 people were killed last month alone — to stock up on ration for at least a month. He said the people must do that even if they had to sell valuables. That the major portion of the Wednesday speech by the MQM chief was in English indicated that he sought to address the international audience in addition to his party’s senior leaders and general workers at the Lal Qila ground in Azizabad. This impression was strengthened by a statement issued by British Foreign Office Minister for South Asia Alistair Burt after speaking to Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad over the phone.
Mr Burt expressed his concern “at the continuing violence and loss of life that Karachi has faced in recent weeks”. He said: “I warned that inflammatory statements from any political party risked making the situation worse and that all political leaders and their parties have a duty to refrain from inciting violence and to reduce tensions and restore calm. “Our Deputy High Commissioner in Karachi, Francis Campbell, has met representatives of all main political parties in Karachi to encourage them to work towards stability in Karachi and the wider region. I have asked my officials to reiterate these points directly with the leadership of the MQM and to discuss our concerns.” While Mr Hussain may have refrained from issuing dark warnings on Wednesday, he was no less impassioned in his appeal for a durable peace in the city. “The Rangers and the Army should come to Karachi and see who is involved in terrorism. They should control the law and order situation here.” REFERENCE: Altaf wants army to quell violence By Mukhtar Alam | From the Newspaper (1 hour ago) Today http://www.dawn.com/2011/08/04/altaf-wants-army-to-quell-violence-british-diplomacy-comes-into-play-for-peace.html PTI to sue Blair for ‘harbouring’ MQM leader By Our Reporter May 15, 2007 Tuesday Rabi-us-Sani 27, 1428 http://archives.dawn.com/dawnftp/126.96.36.199/dawnftp/2007/05/15/nat5.htm UK paper blames MQM for May 12 carnage Rauf Klasra Sunday, June 03, 2007 http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=8280&Cat=13&dt=6%2F1%2F2007 KARACHI: Altaf wants CJ to tender resignation By Our Staff Reporter May 13, 2007 Sunday Rabi-us-Sani 25, 1428 http://archives.dawn.com/dawnftp/188.8.131.52/dawnftp/2007/05/13/local3.htm UK urges MQM not to hinder Benazir’s return By M. Ziauddin October 09, 2007 Tuesday Ramazan 26, 1428 http://archives.dawn.com/2007/10/09/top11.htm
London riots 'could damage Britain's image' ahead of Olympics - Tourism officials have warned that if the authorities fail to prevent the spread of violence and looting in London – and other parts of Britain – the country’s image as a safe holiday destination could suffer long-term damage. By Oliver Smith 3:39PM BST 09 Aug 2011 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/8691387/London-riots-could-damage-Britains-image-ahead-of-Olympics.html
Foreign Office Minister discusses continuing violence in Karachi with Governor of Sindh Last updated at 18:46 (UK time) 3 Aug 2011 http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/news/latest-news/?view=News&id=639436482
Befitting Reply of MQM to Stephen Sackur in BBC HARDtalk Part 1
KARACHI Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain has said that `international powers` had in the past tried to eliminate the MQM through the Pakistani establishment, but now they were trying to get rid of him. In an open letter to party workers, which was also released to the media on Sunday, Mr Hussain said that `international powers` could eliminate him anytime and they (MQM workers) should be mentally prepared for such an eventuality. He said that he had given a philosophy and ideology for struggle against generals, feudal lords and chieftains who assumed “power through unfair means”. He said it was not only the aristocracy which benefited from the mediaeval system, but international powers also used it to their advantage. “International powers used the Pakistani establishment which includes the army, ISI and other powerful agencies to eliminate the MQM. When these forces failed to achieve their objective through conspiracies and barbarity and by slaying thousands of MQM workers, international powers are now trying to eliminate Altaf Hussain,” he said in the letter. Mr Hussain said the murder of Dr Imran Farooq was a link in the chain and news analysis and columns published in the international press gave a clear indication about which party and personality were being targeted. He referred to the BBC programme “Hard Talk” in which the host asked coordination committee member Mohammad Anwar why the MQM leader (Mr Hussain) had not been removed. “This has implications for the situation… what was the purpose of this question?” Mr Hussain said he did not have strength to withstand the might of powers and, therefore, workers should be mentally prepared for any eventuality because of “these powers can eliminate Altaf Hussain anytime”. “If I am assassinated, it would be your duty to carry forward the mission, and objectives and to disseminate my ideology and teachings by sacrificing your personal interests and remaining united,” he said. The release of the letter was followed by an MQM statement condemning the nefarious plan to eliminate its chief. It called upon the British government to provide adequate security to the MQM leader in London. This was the crux of a meeting of the MQM coordination committee held simultaneously in Karachi and London on Sunday, said the statement. It said that after the assassination of Dr Farooq, a conspiracy was hatched to malign the MQM and its leader Mr Hussain, triggering concern among MQM supporters and workers worldwide. “The coordination committee reposed full confidence in the leadership of Mr Hussain and resolved that they would remain committed and continue their struggle under him.” Altaf accuses foreign powers of plotting to eliminate him By Azfar-ul-Ashfaque September 27, 2010 http://archives.dawn.com/archives/42857
Befitting Reply of MQM to Stephen Sackur BBC HARDtalk Part 2
The Scotland Yard investigation into the murder in London of the leading Pakistani politician Dr Imran Farooq has been told that rows within his own party may have led to his assassination. Farooq, 50, was stabbed to death earlier this monthduring an attack in which he was also beaten near his home in Edgware, north London. Farooq was a senior figure in Pakistan's MQM (Muttahida Quami Movement) party, and was in exile in London at the time of his death. The murder is being investigated by Scotland Yard's counter-terrorism branch because of the political dimension to the killing. Sources say intelligence suggests his death was linked to rows within the MQM. Farooq, once prominent in MQM, had taken a back seat. A senior Pakistani source said he may have been about to endorse or join a new party set up by Pakistan's former military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf. The source said of the motive: "It lies within the MQM. Dr Farooq was probably going to join Musharraf."He is vowing to leave his own London exile and return home to launch a fresh bid for power. His new party, the All Pakistan Muslim League, will launch its programme in London later this week. Asked by the Sunday Telegraph about his reaction to Farooq's murder, Musharraf said: "It is terrible that such an assassination could happen in a place like London." Farooq, who was married with two young sons, claimed UK asylum in 1999 alongside Altaf Hussain, the MQM's leader. Hussain, who also lives in exile in London, has said "enemies of the MQM" killed Farooq and they will try to kill him. Pakistan's media reported him as saying on Friday: "Now the enemies of the movement are after my life, but I want to tell them I am not afraid of anyone, whether it's a superpower like the United States or its Nato allies or their Pakistani agents … I fear the Almighty Allah and will never bow down before the conspirators even if they get my British citizenship rescinded." Police in London are still hunting an attacker who, one witness said, appeared to be an Asian man. Analysts say the MQM has longstanding rivalries with ethnic Pashtun and Sindhi parties in Karachi. The MQM has also been riven by occasional internecine violence. Before entering the UK, Farooq spent seven years on the run in Pakistan from criminal charges while the MQM was engaged in a violent battle for control of Karachi. He remained a key party figure. While MQM leader Hussain is protected by private guards and rarely appears in public following death threats, colleagues said Farooq never believed he was at risk and had played a smaller role in the party since the birth of his sons, now aged five and three. Farooq was attacked on his way home from his job at a chemist's shop. He was found near his home after neighbours witnessed what they believed was a fight. Paramedics were called but he was pronounced dead at the scene. MQM party officials in the party's stronghold of Karachi declared a 10-day period of mourning. Previous political killings have triggered riots and deadly clashes between rival factions. Police are keeping an open mind as to the identity of Farooq's killer and their investigation continues. REFERENCE: Pakistan: Imran Farooq murder linked to rows within MQM party Politician may have been about to endorse or join new party set up by General Pervez Musharraf, source claims Vikram Dodd, crime correspondent guardian.co.uk, Sunday 26 September 2010 20.28 BST http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/sep/26/pakistan-imran-farooq-murder-mqm
George Galloway (British MP) on MQM - 1 (2007)
With his healthy plume of gravity-defying hair and chunky tinted glasses, Altaf Hussain is as colourful in appearance as his reputation suggests. Perhaps no other Pakistani politician has as big a list of enemies as the one-time cabbie and university student who transformed himself into one of the most feared political bosses in the country. That he has directed his Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) party from the distant shores of the UK since 1994 speaks volumes for his enduring influence in the treacherous political life of Pakistan. Hussain came to prominence as an advocate for the rights of Pakistan's "muhajir" population – those Urdu-speaking communities that originally travelled to the country from India following partition in 1947. The move to Pakistan was traumatic for the subcontinent's Urdu-speaking communities. They often faced hostile indigenous populations, especially in Sindh and Punjab where most of them settled, and were discriminated against in universities and employment. Hussain's political career was born out of this marginalisation. Had it not been for the military dictator Zia-ul-Haq, however, it is unlikely that he would have risen to prominence. Zia was a master of divide-and-rule politics and sectarianism and ethnic tensions rose under his dictatorship. In Hussain's MQM, Zia saw potential for yet another political platform for dividing would-be federalist opponents. From inception, the MQM's powerbase has been Karachi, Pakistan's simmering, overcrowded economic hub. It is also home to the country's largest Urdu-speaking population. For decades the MQM has dominated local politics, albeit more often than not in manners and means outside the formal parliamentary process. When it ruled Karachi with what critics described as a mafia-like organisation in the late 1980s and early 1990s and the city was engulfed in violence (either endorsed of ignored by the MQM), many of its political opponents mysteriously disappeared only to be later found as corpses, often with the scars of gruesome torture. In 1996 the US state department accused the MQM, along with other political factions, of involvement in torture, summary killings and other abuses. As I noted in an earlier piece for Cif on Karachi, many Karachites have their own personal stories of the period. The army eventually stepped into the chaotic milieu in 1992, setting the stage for a bloody conflict that, at its height between 1992 and 1995, saw up to 10 political activists murdered per day. In the same fighting, Hussain's brothers and several cousins were killed by his opponents. The violence compelled Hussain to flee the country, first to the autocrat-friendly Saudi Arabia and finally to the UK where he still lives. Ever since then, Hussain has been too fearful to return to Pakistan. Yet he remains ubiquitous in Karachi, not least in the MQM posters liberally scattered in the party's stronghold districts. The party faithful sing his praises too, and Hussain still sends his daily orders to them from his Mill Hill residence in North London. One of those orders has been the controversial effort to prevent ethnic Pashtuns taking refuge in the southern state of Sindh while fleeing from the Taliban war in the North West Frontier Province. Hussain and the MQM, the most vocal and vociferous opponents of the Taliban in Pakistan, have spoken regularly of the "Talibanisation" of Karachi owing to its ever-growing Pashtun population, a largely poor community of economic migrants that do much of the menial work in the large port city. Those claims, sparked by rumours that Taliban have slipped into Sindh by posing as refugees and a spate of high-profile police operations against alleged pro-Taliban syndicates in Karachi, have helped add Pakistan's Pashtun population to Hussain's already large list of enemies. The animosity has fuelled a bloody running battle in Karachi between MQM and Pashtun activists from the secular Awami National party that has claimed hundreds of lives. It is difficult to find people outside his MQM who consider Hussain a positive influence. According to the cricketer turned politician Imran Khan, Hussain's MQM is "a fascist movement run by criminals". To be fair to Hussain, however, all of Pakistan's major political parties are beholden to a few powerful individuals or families. And just like those other parties, the MQM has shown a remarkable capacity to make friends of past enemies. Despite its support for the former military dictator Pervez Musharraf and his clamp down on dissent, the MQM is now part of the coalition government currently dominated by the Pakistan Peoples party that spent nine long Musharraf years in opposition. Historically, the PPP's first family, the Bhuttos, have been Hussain's greatest rivals. In recent times the necessities of parliamentary politics have forced both parties to bury the hatchet. Only last week, Pakistan interior adviser and senior PPP stalwart Rehman Malik met Hussain in London to discuss, among other things, the possible addition of MQM parliamentarians to the already bloated federal cabinet. There is little doubt that Hussain will be following events closely from the suburbs of London. He is a political survivor who shows no signs of disappearing quietly into history. REFERENCE: The Karachi king After a bloody conflict in Karachi, much-feared political boss Altaf Hussain fled to London, but he is no less powerful in Pakistan Mustafa Qadri guardian.co.uk, Monday 6 July 2009 18.00 BST http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jul/06/altaf-hussain-karachi-pakistan-london
George Galloway (British MP) on MQM - 2 (2007)
Query: Provide information on the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Altaf (MQM-A) in Pakistan. Response: SUMMARY: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Altaf (MQM-A) has been widely accused of human rights abuses since its founding two decades ago. It claims to represent Mohajirs— Urdu-speaking Muslims who fled to Pakistan from India after the 1947 partition of the subcontinent, and their descendants. In the mid-1990s, the MQM-A was heavily involved in the widespread political violence that wracked Pakistan's southern Sindh province, particularly Karachi, the port city that is the country's commercial capital. MQM-A militants fought government forces, breakaway MQM factions, and militants from other ethnic-based movements. In the mid-1990s, the U.S. State Department, Amnesty International, and others accused the MQM-A and a rival faction of summary killings, torture, and other abuses (see, e.g., AI 1 Feb 1996; U.S. DOS Feb 1996). The MQM-A routinely denied involvement in violence. References: Pakistan: Information on Mohajir/Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Altaf (MQM-A) http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/publisher,USCIS,,,414fe5aa4,0.html
The current MQM-A is the successor to a group called the Mohajir Qaumi Movement (MQM) that was founded by Altaf Hussein in 1984 as a student movement to defend the rights of Mohajirs, who by some estimates make up 60 percent of Karachi's population of twelve million. At the time, Mohajirs were advancing in business, the professions, and the bureaucracy, but many resented the quotas that helped ethnic Sindhis win university slots and civil service jobs. Known in English as the National Movement for Refugees, the MQM soon turned to extortion and other types of racketeering to raise cash. Using both violence and efficient organizing, the MQM became the dominant political party in Karachi and Hyderabad, another major city in Sindh. Just three years after its founding, the MQM came to power in these and other Sindh cities in local elections in 1987 (AI 1 Feb 1996; U.S. DOS Feb 1997, Feb 1999; HRW Dec 1997). The following year, the MQM joined a coalition government at the national level headed by Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP), which took power in elections following the death of military leader General Zia ul-Haq. This marked the first of several times in the 1980s and 1990s that the MQM joined coalition governments in Islamabad or in Sindh province. Meanwhile, violence between the MQM and Sindhi groups routinely broke out in Karachi and other Sindh cities (AI 1 Feb 1996; Jane's 14 Feb 2003). In 1992, a breakway MQM faction, led by Afaq Ahmed and Aamir Khan, launched the MQM Haqiqi (MQM-H), literally the "real" MQM. Many Pakistani observers alleged that the MQM-H was supported by the government of Pakistan to weaken the main MQM led by Altaf Hussein, which became known as the MQM-A (Jane's 14 Feb 2003). Several smaller MQM factions also emerged, although most of the subsequent intra-group violence involved the MQM-A and the MQM-H (AI 1 Feb 1996; U.S. DOS Feb 1999; Jane's 14 Feb 2003).References: Pakistan: Information on Mohajir/Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Altaf (MQM-A) http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/publisher,USCIS,,,414fe5aa4,0.html
Political violence in Sindh intensified in 1993 and 1994 (Jane's 14 Feb 2003). In 1994, fighting among MQM factions and between the MQM and Sindhi nationalist groups brought almost daily killings in Karachi (U.S. DOS Feb 1995). By July 1995, the rate of political killings in the port city reached an average of ten per day, and by the end of that year more than 1,800 had been killed (U.S. DOS Feb 1996). The violence in Karachi and other cities began abating in 1996 as soldiers and police intensified their crackdowns on the MQM-A and other groups (Jane's 14 Feb 2003). Pakistani forces resorted to staged "encounter killings" in which they would shoot MQM activists and then allege that the killings took place during encounters with militants (U.S. DOS Feb 1996). Following a crackdown in 1997, the MQM-A adopted its present name, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, or United National Movement, which also has the initials MQM (HRW Dec 1997). MQM-A leader Hussein fled in 1992 to Britain, where he received asylum in 1999 (Jane's 14 Feb 2003). The MQM-A is not on the U.S. State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations (U.S. DOS 23 May 2003). While the multifaceted nature of the violence in Sindh province in the 1980s and 1990s at times made it difficult to pinpoint specific abuses by the MQM-A, the group routinely was implicated in rights abuses. In 1992 after the Sindh government called in the army to crack down on armed groups in the province, facilities were discovered that allegedly were used by the MQM-A to torture and at times kill dissident members and activists from rival groups. In 1996, Amnesty International said that the PPP and other parties were reporting that some of their activists had been tortured and killed by the MQM-A (AI 1 Feb 1996). The MQM-A and other factions also have been accused of trying to intimidate journalists. In one of the most flagrant cases, in 1990 MQM leader Hussein publicly threatened the editor of the monthly NEWSLINE magazine after he published an article on the MQM's alleged use of torture against dissident members (U.S. DOS Feb 1991). The following year, a prominent journalist, Zafar Abbas, was severely beaten in Karachi in an attack that was widely blamed on MQM leaders angered over articles by Abbas describing the party's factionalization. The same year, MQM activists assaulted scores of vendors selling DAWN, Pakistan's largest English-language newspaper, and other periodicals owned by Herald Publications (U.S. DOS Feb 1992). References: Pakistan: Information on Mohajir/Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Altaf (MQM-A) http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/publisher,USCIS,,,414fe5aa4,0.html
The MQM-A has also frequently called strikes in Karachi and other cities in Sindh province and used killings and other violence to keep shops closed and people off the streets. During strikes, MQM-A activists have ransacked businesses that remained open and attacked motorists and pedestrians who ventured outside (U.S. DOS Feb 1996; Jane's 14 Feb 2003). The MQM-A allegedly raises funds through extortion, narcotics smuggling, and other criminal activities. In addition, Mohajirs in Pakistan and overseas provide funds to the MQM-A through charitable foundations (Jane's 14 Feb 2003). Since the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the United States, the MQM-A has been increasingly critical of Islamic militant groups in Pakistan. The MQM-A, which generally has not targeted Western interests, says that it supports the global campaign against terrorism (Jane's 14 Feb 2003). This response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the RIC within time constraints. This response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. References: Pakistan: Information on Mohajir/Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Altaf (MQM-A) http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/publisher,USCIS,,,414fe5aa4,0.html
George Galloway (British MP) on MQM - 3 (2007)
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 Edgware High Street. Followers of Mr Hussain, 53, whose Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) is allied to President Pervez Musharraf's government, were accused yesterday of playing a bloody part in the clashes with opposition supporters. But in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mr Hussain insisted that they held a "completely peaceful gathering" and that it was opposition supporters who provoked the violence, in which at least nine MQM activists were killed. When reports of the killings reached Edgware on Saturday morning, Mr Hussain was preparing to address the party by telephone. Three hours later, he defied what he called "agitators" by leaning over the loudspeaker of his phone to speak to his supporters. Opposition activists loyal to Benazir Bhutto were staging their own anti-government rally when the violence began.
But Mr Hussain said: "It was a completely peaceful gathering by MQM supporters that was targeted by a collaboration of three other parties." He said 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, who founded the MQM in 1984 specifically to represent the Mohajirs - Muslim refugees from India - has lived in Britian since arriving in 1992 for a kidney operation. He has since become a British citizen, while his party governs five cities and the populous Sind province. He claimed yesterday that his party is the only force to stand up for secular values in Pakistan. "MQM is the only party against all sorts of religious fanaticism in Pakistan," he said. "It is these groups and their influence, which is all around, that is stopping me coming home. A sizeable majority of the army even have been brainwashed to supporting what the Taliban wants to impose." Mr Hussain, who spent part of yesterday 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. Pakistan faces a referendum on Gen Musharraf's rule before the end of the year and he has promised to abandon his uniform before the poll. "The situation in South Asia does not allow Pervez Musharraf to take off his uniform, for without it he will have no power at all. Because of activities next door in Afghanistan as well as our own country, the Taliban is growing very strong," Mr Hussaid said.
"He is doing his level best to fight these groups. Musharraf is a very brave man. Only he can prevent the Talibanisation of Pakistan." Unlike the former prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and Miss Bhutto, Mr Hussain is an exile whose party has consolidated its grip. But Karachi remains tense. The MQM's most senior leader in Pakistan, Farooq Sattar, said: "The opposition wants to show that Karachi does not belong to the MQM. We have accepted the challenge." Mr Hussain is one of the Indian subcontinent's more unusual leaders. 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, or thug, 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. The movement runs on Greenwich Mean Time with his ministers in Pakistan fielding hour-long telephone calls into the early hours. Mr Sattar admitted that his party's image had been tarnished by "accusations of fascism and terrorism" but said this was a "misperception". Some observers argue that in the tough city of Karachi the MQM has given a vulnerable group protection and a voice. After Mr Hussain left Pakistan, an army operation was launched against his party during which hundreds of its workers were either killed by police or were arrested on charges of terrorism. He has no plans to return to Pakistan. When 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." REFERENCE: Running Karachi - from London By Isambard Wilkinson in Karachi and Damien McElroy 12:01AM BST 14 May 2007 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1551540/Running-Karachi-from-London.html