KARACHI: Demanding that a martial law be slapped on Pakistan no later than ‘today’, Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) London-based chief, who is deeply upset over a predawn raid on party’s headquarter in Karachi, Wednesday night claimed that no one was arrested from their main office.
“It’s a blatant lie that certain ‘suspects’ were nabbed from ‘Nine Zero’. If slain journalist Wali Babar’s killers were still at large then it was law-enforcers’ inefficiency. Neither the party nor I have any idea whether they were affiliated with the MQM,” Hussain said in a statement issued from London.
Rangers’ personnel wearing black masks busted ‘Nine Zero’ in the wee hours, seizing a “huge quantity” of weapons and arresting activists, including one accused of murdering a journalist.
He said his party was initially told that criminals were hiding in ‘Nine Zero’ but later the paramilitary troops changed their earlier line.
“The MQM is not responsible for any wrongdoers living around ‘Nine Zero’,” the MQM leader said.
Condemning the early morning raid, Hussain said he wanted to know why the military was so angry with the MQM.
“Please let us know what have we done to deserve the persecution we are being subjected to day in day out? Why on earth only we are being told to mend our ways for the last 25 years,” the MQM leader said.
Going forward, Hussain also warned the raiders of legal retaliation.
“Those who busted our offices will not be able to continue as the ‘officers’ of the force for long,” said he implying he would have them sacked for conducting an illegal operation.
Hussain also admonished police for extrajudicial murders and enforced disappearances of his party workers.
“Instead of taking shots at finding ‘factionism’ in the MQM, the police should better first cull the black sheep among their own ranks –from top to bottom,” Hussain added.
During his long-winded talk, he also begged pardon for losing his temper off and on.
“I have been (and am) under a lot of pressure for the last three years and at times can’t keep my cool. And when I make mistakes I also don’t forget to apologize for them,” a sentimental Hussain sounded out to clear the air.
In the next breath, the MQM supremo regretted that it was much too difficult for him to lead the party from overseas.
“I can’t tell you how bad I want to return to Pakistan, but alas, my passport is in the custody of police. I don’t want to set foot on the soil of my homeland as a British citizen,” a homesick Hussain said in a teary voice.
The raid on ‘Nine Zero’ sparked an angry response from the party, with workers shutting down large parts of Pakistan’s biggest city.
At least one supporter of the MQM, the fourth-largest party in parliament, was shot dead during the raid. It is yet unclear whether he was killed by a shot fired by the paramilitary raiders.
Rangers personnel raided the offices in central Karachi acting on an intelligence tip-off that convicted criminals were hiding inside.
“We have arrested five to six people who had criminal backgrounds,” Colonel Tahir Mahmood, who was leading the team, told reporters outside MQM headquarters.
“There were some criminals to whom the court has handed down the death sentence.”
A Rangers statement said those held included one man sentenced to death for the murder of a television news journalist in 2011.
The statement said a “huge quantity of weapons and ammo” were seized in the raid.
“The finding of weapons carries a question mark and we will investigate it,” Mahmood said.
MQM condemned the raid and insisted that the weapons were all legally held.
“It was all licensed weapons issued to the MPs of the party,” senior MQM leader Haider Abbas Rizvi told AFP.
He said it was a disgrace that a leading political party was “being ridiculed in such a ruthless way”.
MQM holds 23 seats in the National Assembly, almost all in Karachi.
The Rangers said there was no resistance during the raid, but television footage showed Rangers soldiers firing gunshots while leaving the offices.