Dubai: Pakistan’s firebrand politician Altaf Hussain who is also the founder of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), was arrested in London on Tuesday over a hate speech in 2016 for inciting people to revolt and violate the law in Pakistan.
According to reports, the Scotland Yard raided Hussain’s London flat on Tuesday morning to arrest him. He was taken to a local police station. At least fifteen officers took part in the raid.
A forensic unit of Scotland Yard also searched Hussain’s residence. The news of his arrest was confirmed by MQM sources.
This is the third arrest of a high profile Pakistanis politician in just two days. On Monday, former president of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari was nabbed by National Accountability Bureau (NAB)—anti-graft agency of Pakistan -- on fake bank accounts and money laundering charges while on Tuesday, Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) leader Hamza Shahbaz was also arrested by NAB on corruption and money laundering charges.
Hussain was arrested in relation to the hate speech he delivered in 2016 in which he had urged his followers mainly in Karachi to take the law into their own hands. He had also threatened former Director General Rangers Major General Bilal Akbar, Geo tv reported.
In 2017, Scotland Yard had sent a letter under “Mutual Legal Assistance” to Pakistan in relation to two speeches made by the MQM founder on March 11, 2015 and August 22, 2016.
Hours after Hussain delivered the incendiary speech, MQM workers had attacked the ARY News office in Karachi. Shortly after, the Rangers had detained a handful of senior MQM leaders overnight.
Following the incident, the Karachi wing of the party led by Farooq Sattar distanced itself from Hussain and the London wing.
Parts of Hussain’s speech that went viral on social media minutes after the violence broke out in Karachi in 2016 showed that while addressing the MQM workers protesting outside the Karachi Press Club against “enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings of workers”, the MQM supremo had not only raised slogans against Pakistan but also called the country “a cancer for entire world”, Dawn news reported.
A top Pakistan security official told Gulf News that the government, a team of Scotland Yard which had visited Pakistan had also been provided with evidence pertaining to money laundering by FIA. He said that Hussain who holds British nationality might be tried in London court.
Both the Crown Prosecution Service and Metropolitan Police Services had earlier confirmed to media that a criminal investigation had started against Hussain.
In a statement, Scotland Yard said an individual associated with the MQM had been arrested on suspicion of intentionally encouraging or assisting offences contrary to Section 44 of the Serious Crime Act 2007.
Scotland Yard statement after Hussain's arrest
“A man has today, Tuesday, 11 June, been arrested in connection with an investigation into a number of speeches made by an individual associated with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in Pakistan.
“The man, who is aged in his 60s, was arrested at an address in north-west London. He was arrested on suspicion of intentionally encouraging or assisting offences contrary to Section 44 of the Serious Crime Act 2007.
“He was detained under PACE and taken to a south London police station, where he currently remains in police custody.
“As part of the investigation, officers are carrying out a search at the north-west London address. Detectives are also searching a separate commercial address in north-west London.
“The investigation, which is being led by officers from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, is focused on a speech broadcast in August 2016 by an individual associated with the MQM movement in Pakistan as well as other speeches previously broadcast by the same person.
“Throughout the investigation, officers have been liaising with Pakistani authorities in relation to our ongoing enquiries.”
Meanwhile, Ejaz Shah, Interior Minister of Pakistan told media that the MQM founder Altaf Hussain was a British citizen and would be probed by authorities there.
Shah added that at this point there was no intention to contact Interpol over the arrest of the MQM founder.
According to MQM spokesperson, the counsel for MQM founder Altaf Hussain has already submitted his bail request.
Who is Altaf Hussain
Altaf Hussain belongs to ethnic Urdu speaking groups commonly known as Mohajir (immigrants) from India. He founded the MQM to safeguard the rights of the Mohajirs who he claimed were being ignored and suppressed in Pakistan mainly in Karachi.
Hussain was born on September 17, 1953 in Karachi. He obtained his early education at a public school in Karachi’s Azizabad neighbourhood, a middle-class locality in Karachi where the MQM chief spent his early years and his youth. He later enrolled at the University of Karachi to study Pharmacy and graduated from the programme in 1979.
Previously known as the Mohajir Qaumi Movement, Hussain’s party started off as a political group with the aim of representing the Urdu-speaking community which had migrated to Pakistan due to Partition.
His political career began during his student years in Karachi University when he and Azeem Ahmed Tariq founded the All-Pakistan Mohajir Students Organisation (APMSO).
Formed in 1978, APMSO gained a massive following within a short period of time.
Under Hussain’s leadership, MQM swept the 1988 election in Sindh’s urban areas, emerging as the third largest party.
In the early 1990s, the MQM chief went into exile as the government at the time conducted an operation in Karachi.
The MQM under Hussain was accused of using violent tactics to attain and retain political power. On the contrary, Hussain maintained that the state and other political parties have targeted MQM and its workers ever since its formation.
Viewed as the man who controlled Karachi from London, Hussain came under fire in May 2013 for his televised speech across Pakistan where he allegedly demanded the separation of Karachi from the rest of Pakistan if the public mandate of his party was not acceptable to the ‘establishment’. The party later clarified saying it was taken out of context.