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UK considers hate charges against Altaf Hussain

Altaf Hussain
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News Analysis |

The UK has given indications that it may bring hate speech charges against the London-based Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Altaf Hussain. Britain’s Home Secretary Amber Rudd has told the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee that she is providing support to state prosecutors as they consider whether or not to bring the charges.

The secretary’s remarks came in the response to Bradford MP Naz Shah’s question. The home secretary said: “I get lobbied quite a lot if I go to Pakistan or to other countries about this. I am making sure that the Crown Prosecution Service and the Metropolitan Police have the support they need in order to make sure that they can, where appropriate, bring prosecutions.”

This was decided after a meeting between Dr. Farooq Sattar and the Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. This move will certainly strengthen the anti-Altaf faction of the MQM and move the party further away from Altaf Hussain’s shadow

The charges being considered by the British authorities range from encouraging violent disorder, inciting others to commit terrorism outside England and Wales to the encouragement of terrorism. In August, the British government asked for Pakistan’s help to bring charges against Altaf Hussain in relation to speeches he gave on March 11, 2015, and Aug 22, 2016.

Read more: Why Nadeem Nusrat’s desertion from MQM-London is not significant?

In the August speech, Hussain had incited members of his party MQM to launch assaults against the offices of Samaa and ARY news channels. Afterwards, protesters then attacked the ARY News office which led to one man’s death.

That incident was to have a detrimental impact on Altaf’s power in his party. Soon after the headquarters of the MQM known as Nine Zero, long thought a no go, area was raided by Law Enforcement agencies. This was followed by a declaration of the Pakistan based MQM leaders for having split up with Altaf Hussain whose faction was renamed MQM-London.

Mr. Cadman told reporters that he had been assured by the police that they were still working on the issue. Mr. Merchant was himself suspect of involvement in MQM money laundering before the case against him was dropped in 2016

Altaf’s reversal of fortune from being the powerbroker of Pakistan’s commercial hub, Karachi to a dogged exile was to continue. Altaf whose speeches were always televised live before was cut off from the airwaves after he started speaking against Pakistan. To add to his woes, the BBC filed a report uncovering the links he had with the Indian intelligence agency R&AW to sow discord in Pakistan.

Read more: Altaf Hussain meets US Congressman in London: Is it Agartala 2.0?

Altaf Hussain is also mired in the murder case of a close MQM leader Dr. Imran Farooq. Imran Farooq was found murdered near his home in North London on 16 September 2010. Later on, a key suspect in the murder case confessed that Altaf Hussain gave him directions to assassinate Farooq in a telephonic speech to workers in Karachi.

He claimed that September 16 was chosen for Farooq’s assassination to present a ‘gift’ to Altaf Hussain on September 17, which is the birthday of MQM founder. However, to Hussain’s relief, the British authorities have dropped their inquiry into the 2010 murder of MQM leader Imran Farooq. This led to complaints on part of the Pakistani government where some high ranking officials expressed doubts on the British commitment to investigating Hussain.

Altaf Hussain is also mired in the murder case of a close MQM leader Dr. Imran Farooq. Imran Farooq was found murdered near his home in North London on 16 September 2010

Altaf Hussain’s fortunes in London could take a double hit if the UK government initiates hate speech charges against him. The British inquiry into the MQM leader’s speeches, called ‘Operation Demerit’, could run parallel with a separate money laundering investigation Last week, a London-based international lawyer, Toby Cadman, who is working with the former MQM ally Sarfraz Merchant, handed the UK police fresh documents said to be relating to the money laundering case.

Read more: MQM-Pakistan slams Altaf Hussain for seeking help from Indian PM Modi

Mr. Cadman told reporters that he had been assured by the police that they were still working on the issue. Mr. Merchant was himself suspect of involvement in MQM money laundering before the case against him was dropped in 2016. In an added blow, the federal government has decided that the permission to reopen MQM-P’s closed legal offices will be granted after acquiring clearance from the Sindh government and security agencies.

This was decided after a meeting between Dr. Farooq Sattar and the Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. This move will certainly strengthen the anti-Altaf faction of the MQM and move the party further away from Altaf Hussain’s shadow.


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