Friday, June 08, 2007

Pakistan's "No 1 terrorist" protected by Britain?

There has been remarkably little coverage in the British press of the fact that Imran Khan the former international cricketer, is using the British courts to try to bring Altaf Hussain, head of the semi-fascist Muttahida Qaumi Movement, to justice for the massacre of 42 democracy protestors in Lahore on May 12th. Khan is using the well known human rights lawyer, also called Imran Khan.

According to Pakistani paper, the
Daily Times:

“Three weeks ago, gunmen opened fire on a rally supporting Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, triggering bloodshed that left 42 people dead. Khan along with lawyers, human rights activists and opposition parties accuses Hussain of orchestrating the carnage from his residence in London. “The entire incident was planned. No British citizen is allowed to sit in London while directing terrorist operations abroad, so why is there an exception for Altaf Hussain?” said Khan, describing the MQM as “a fascist movement run by criminals”. “

As Imran Khan has pointed out: “The British government is involved in a war against terror but is giving Pakistan’s No 1 terrorist sanctuary”.

For the past 16 years, Hussain has lived in self-imposed exile in the UK initially as an asylum-seeker and currently as a British citizen. He fled to London to escape from criminal prosecution in Pakistan He is now based in an office block on Edgware High Street in north London, from where he rules his party by phone apparently directing his closest lieutenants in long, late-night conversations.

But Hussain does not fit the media profile of a terrorist neatly enough for the British press, or the British government to be interested. His party, the MQM tries to project an image based on secularism, economic development and support for the “war on terror” since entering a coalition government with President Pervez Musharraf in 2002, himself an Ally of Britain and the USA.

In reality the MQM has always been liked to extortion, gun smuggling and international crime networks, it is also an ethno-linguistically defined supremacist party, representing the Urdu speaking community who fled to Pakistan following partition in 1947.

So why is New Labour, usually obsessed with terror, so quiet? Why is the British press so quiet about a murder gang being allegedly orchestrated from Britain against democracy protestors ?

Could it be because Altaf Hussain’s party is included in President Mussaraf’s government?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The United Kingdom has raised its development assistance to Pakistan from 236 million pounds to 480 million pounds to be disbursed over three years 2007-09.

Turning a blind eye to some troublemaking elements based in London risks the cause of enlightened moderation being pushed back for several years. In fact, such ill-executed, if not ill-advised, policies and actions may end up as a disservice to all efforts to promote moderation in Pakistan if certain immediate measures are not put in place. Presently MQM form a part of ruling coalitions at Pakistan’s centre and in Sind province with has 18 MNAs, 07 Senators and 42 MPAs in the Provincial Assembly of Sindh and 4 Federal Ministers including one State Minister and 07 Provincial Ministers and 8 Advisors in the Province of Sind. But instead of promoting accommodation and peaceful coexistence, the London based leadership of the ethnic extremists openly call for a blatant confrontation with the country's educationally and professionally enlightened and most moderate legal personnel. How the cause of governance and civil society has been served through harassing and intimidating Karachi's lawyers and judges?

A cause of serious concern is the blind intimidation displayed on 12 May in Karachi instigated by ethnic extremists making telephonic from London to incite violence and disrupt harmony through hateful speeches against different political elements.

In effect, a free hand was given to mobs to mercilessly quell moderate lawyers and quashing enlightened journalists who were covering the events.

There are sad indications that irreparable blows have been inflicted on key components of the civil society in Pakistan that mostly comprise of, represent and cater to vastly moderate elements of Pakistan’s society:

Events in recent weeks have again proved that threatening media personnel is nor an aberration for MQM neither an act in isolation. []
It is actually a persistence posture of intimidation evident for the past five years that MQM is a coalition partner in Sind province and at the centre.

Many will recall one glimpse of courageous reporting in the Daily Star Karachi, dated 27.01.2005 made MQM so nervous that it sued the paper to pay amount of "damages to the tune of Rupees Five hundred million" to MQM by 18.2.2005 following which damages case against The Star as well as a separate criminal case were filed. So much pressure was put on The Star that it suspended printing and still awaits a normal resumption. The mentioned report from The Star can be seen on page 23-24 with other examples at:

Any political backing or financial support to MQM's or its leaders in London should be withheld until an independent query in to Karachi's killings clears them of any wrongdoing and only after the MQ led Sind government retrieves its warnings and withdraws all cases it has filed to curtail fucntioning of the free media.