By Ahsan Waheed
BBC 2 NEWSNIGHT program on July 10th anchored by Jeremy Archer included a segment on the MQM leader Altaf Hussain. This segment was brilliantly presented by Owen Benet – Jones. The short but comprehensive presentation focused on the refuge or sanctuary given to Mr Altaf Hussain for more than two decades in Britain during which period he had acquired British nationality. The allegations against Mr Hussain included the fact that from a refuge in North London he was controlling a most feared political organization in Pakistan, that he was possibly involved in over 30 murders and that without a doubt he was the brains as well as the brawn behind the MQM. The September 16, 2010 brutal murder of an MQM leader outside his home in London was described – including the arrest of two men in Pakistan who were part of the investigation. The latest twist in the investigation was the arrest of an associate of the MQM leader at a London airport and the very recent raids on the offices and residences of Mr Hussain in London in which documents and a total of 350000 British pounds in cash were discovered and so far remain unexplained.
Snippets from Mr Hussain’s frequent prolonged telephone addresses were screened to give an idea of the threats, incitements and abuse hurled by him including threats to The UK government after the raids on his facilities and his ‘headquarters’ on Edgeware Road in London. The question asked was whether there was any breach of British law if he was indeed using his base in London to incite violence besides exercising total control over his organization in Pakistan.
A British Barrister Mr Bajwa was interviewed and he stated that the threats could be interpreted as incitement to violence. The main MQM leader in Pakistan, Mr Farooq Sattar, completely denied such a possibility even rejecting the actual footage shown of Mr Hussain’s telephonic addresses. The presenter mentioned that MQM members asked to comment had refused – possibly fearful of the consequences. Many MQM leaders and workers have been murdered in the past and hundreds of workers have lost their lives in mysterious street violence. One former MQM member Naim Ahmed did speak out and stated clearly that the MQM was a party of militants and mafias that acted on orders ‘from London’ and that over 80% of the terrorists involved in violence in Karachi were from the MQM and that more than 20 police personnel had been killed to make sure that no one agreed to investigate or give evidence. The result was zero convictions and hardly any arrests.
It was pointed out in the presentation that Mr Hussain remained a charismatic and eccentric leader but that it was fear that kept people in line. His visitors in London included Pakistani political leaders and officials. Apparently MQM personnel could get British visas without difficulty possibly because of a letter written to the British authorities after 911 offering HUMINT services inside Pakistan in support of the war on terror. The British possibly saw MQM influence as protection against ‘jihadis’ and extremists. Britain was however under pressure to put Mr Hussain on trial. The BBC presentation included a personal appearance by Mr Farooq Sattar who stoutly denied all the allegations, insinuations and facts presented. He did not comment on the possibility of money laundering and the investigation into Mr Imran Farooq’s murder on the grounds that these were ongoing event legal aspects to these issues and that there were legal issues involved.