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May 20, 2013

UK protesters seek action against Altaf

Top Story

May 20, 2013

LONDON: The British government has been urged to “prosecute and indict” the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) founder and leader Altaf Hussain for allegedly inciting violence from British soil against “peaceful democratic protestors” in Karachi and for “threatening” media outlets.
Hundreds of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) activists organised a large demonstration outside Prime Minister David Cameron’s residence at 10 Downing Street on Sunday and called on the British government to take notice of the “national outrage” in Pakistan over alleged vote-rigging as well as Altaf Hussain’s alleged threats to the PTI workers in Karachi. The MQM leader has denied making these threats and has said that his words have been taken out of context by his political opponents.
By all accounts, this was the largest demonstration held by Pakistanis in London outside 10 Downing Street in over a decade. The organisers said that more than 1,500 people had taken part in the protest from London and outside but a police official on the spot put the figure at around 1,000. They came from all over the UK and chanted slogans against Altaf Hussain.
The demonstrators also alleged that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is involved in large-scale rigging in parts of Punjab and the international community must take notice of this.
The PTI’s London president Shahbaz Khan said the demonstration has been organised to “demand British government to arrest Altaf Hussain for inciting violence from British soil; threatening and terrorising peaceful protesters in Karachi and threatening to break up Pakistan, a sovereign state and a member of the Commonwealth, by separating Karachi from Pakistan”.
He alleged that the PTI’s senior leadership along with members are continuously threatened by the MQM’s workers “on behest of their chief Altaf Hussain for peacefully protesting and challenging the election results” and a proof is the killing of veteran PTI

leader in Karachi Zahra Shahid. He said the demonstrators wanted to bring to PM Cameron’s attention that “if anything happens to PTI leaders or members, Altaf Hussain will be directly responsible for it”.
Mahtab Aziz, PTI’s legal consultant in London, who prepared the petition for Number 10 Downing Street, said that Britain knows that Pakistan is being “destabilised” from Britain and has allowed it for too long. “Times have changed. We cannot tolerate it anymore.”
The petition presented to Prime Minister Cameron’s office referred to Altaf Hussain’s speech of 12th May and said the MQM leader was involved in “inciting terrorism overseas (Terrorism Act 2000 s.59), encouraged terrorism and dissemination of terrorist publications (Terrorism Act 2006 ss1-2), prepared for terrorist acts (Terrorism Act 2006 s.5), and conspired to commit grievous bodily harm/conspiracy to wound with intent to cause GBH” and that the British government must prosecute him.
The petition said “the welfare and safety of PTI workers and leaders and their families and property is in grave danger. Many have already been targeted and threatened by Mr Hussain’s party workers. We will be in no doubt that were anything to happen to them that the culprit and instigator will be Mr Hussain. Hence our request that Mr Hussain be arrested and investigated for the offences detailed below.”
The petition said Altaf Hussain had the Teen Talwar protestors and “threatened to break the arms of those who are hatching conspiracies against MQM. He directed the party activists to prepare themselves mentally for his next call and threatened ‘I am about to set free my enraged followers if opposition against our party is not stopped’.”
The PTI activists, who were also joined by members of various other groups, requested that the video of Altaf Hussain’s speech be “blocked or taken down from websites on the internet such as Youtube and Google due to its inflammatory nature, unlawful threats and incitement to terrorism contained therein against the PTI workers”.
Meanwhile, it became clear on Sunday that the tussle between the MQM and the PTI has gained global prominence as Britain’s leading papers focused their attention on Imran Khan and the London-based MQM leadership.
It also became clear that if a solution to Karachi situation is not found then in all likelihood the tension in London will go to an acerbic level and this is not something that the MQM wants to find itself as the party has operated peacefully from here and any confrontation with another Pakistani group brings uncomfortable situation for the party.
The Daily Telegraph wrote about the killing of Zahra Shahid Hussain and quoted Imran Khan as blaming the MQM leader — a claim the MQM has strongly denied.
The paper quoted Imran Khan as saying that the British government was also responsible for failing to heed his warnings about Altaf Hussain, who has held a UK passport since being given political asylum in the 1990s.
The paper said: “The accusations will refocus attention on Mr Hussain and his role in running the world’s third biggest city from his drab political headquarters on Edgware High Street. Tensions have been running high between the PTI and the MQM after Mr Khan’s party accused it of widespread vote-rigging. The MQM has denied the charge and boycotted Sunday’s re-run. The febrile atmosphere has reached London, where the Metropolitan Police is investigating complaints from Pakistan that Mr Hussain made an inflammatory speech in the aftermath of the election results.”
The paper added: “His sector commanders, as they are known, keep a tight rein on their neighbourhoods and the city has a terrible reputation for gangland violence, as gangsters, terrorist groups and political parties manoeuvre for control.”
The Guardian quoted Imran Khan from his Twitter handle as holding the “British govt responsible as I had warned them abt Br citizen Altaf Hussain after his open threats to kill PTI workers” but also quoted MQM’s television Facebook page describing the killing as “a street crime related murder”.
The BBC said the “MQM has clashed with other smaller parties and ethnic groups trying to challenge its grip on the city” but “this time, it is seemingly up against a strong electoral challenge from the PTI, which is popular among educated urban young voters fed up with crime and lawlessness in the city”.