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May 21, 2013

Imran-Altaf dispute hits London

Newspost

 
May 21, 2013

LONDON: The increasingly bitter fight between the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insfaaf (PTI) and the London-based Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Altaf Hussain has arrived in London and there is every sign that it might get out of control — a kind of tussle unseen before in this country.
Proof of that are thousands of complaints the Metropolitan Police received within 24 hours after an appeal was launched by Imran Khan’s supporters. The Met Police sources have said that the complaints line went into meltdown as they were inundated with complaints from British citizens as well as from abroad, complaining that the MQM leader’s speeches have allegedly incited violence. The “floods” of complaints forced the Metropolitan Police to start an investigation into the alleged comments of Mr Hussain.
On Saturday night, rumours spread fast that Mr Hussain had been arrested. The Met Police was again inundated with so many calls that on Sunday the police issued a statement that no arrest had been made and the investigation was at the initial stage.
The murder of PTI vice-president Zahra Shahid Hussain was featured prominently in all papers on Sunday and every paper repeated the allegations of Imran Khan that he held the British government as well as Altaf Hussain responsible for the killing and called on the British government to take action against Mr Hussain, who has been living here for more than 20 years.
“I hold Altaf Hussain directly responsible ... as he openly threatened PTI [Mr Khan’s party] workers and leaders through public broadcasts,” Mr Khan wrote in a tweet. “I also hold the British government responsible as I had warned them about ... Altaf Hussain after his open threats.”
MQM spokesman Mohammad Anwar dismissed the accusations by Imran Khan, telling the BBC his comments were the “groundless, baseless” accusations of a man who had suffered a bitter, unexpected loss in the election and accused him in turn of behind the

killing.
The Guardian newspaper said that although the MQM has managed to cling to the 18 seats it had in the last Parliament, “it has seen its share of the vote fall by almost 10 percentage points and the PTI emerge as major challenger”.
The paper quoted a Karachi-based security consultant as saying that the MQM has “gone into shock over these results” and “people have voted against them because of their utter failure to do anything in the last five years. In retrospect, the PTI could have done even better if they had put more effort into Karachi”.
“The prospect of the MQM having much-reduced political influence in Islamabad has raised fears it could once again resort to the sort of violence and intimidation that party officials have claimed they have been trying to put behind them,” said the paper.
The Independent quoted Imran Khan’s critics as saying that his party is refusing to accept defeat after suffering exaggerated hopes of a victory but the paper said that there were widespread allegations of vote rigging, there was evidence available too and on the night of the election, television stations showed Mr Imam leading the count in his constituency but 36 hours later, he was declared the loser.
A social activist told the Financial Times “young PTI workers have ventured into areas in Karachi which were considered MQM territory”. Imran Khan’s former wife Jemima Khan and her brother Zac Goldsmith have already taken sides in this fight.
Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative MP for Richmond, said in a tweet: “If the MQM’s Altaf Hussain has incited violence from his UK home against anti vote-rigging demonstrators, he must be prosecuted.”
On Sunday, Jemima Khan backed protest outside 10 Downing Street against Altaf Hussain in a twitter message. She also wrote: “UK harbours terrorist, Altaf Hussain, who makes public threats against Pak citizens. Acc to US justification, he’d be a legit drone target.” Channel 4 News dedicated an 8-minute long news bulletin on Sunday to the MQM-PTI fight and visited the MQM’s Edgware headquarters. MQM’s Rabita Committee member Muhamamd Anwar said that Imran Khan’s campaign was a “mad man’s cry”.
“He is frustrated. He doesn’t know where he is now. He had thought that he would be prime minister of Pakistan but Nawaz Sharif is going to the PM,” Anwar said, suggesting that Imran Kgan was frustrated.
PTI leader Shireen Mazari told the same programme that the British government is letting Altaf Hussain issue threats from here and “advocating the breakup of Pakistan” by “tolerating him and subsidizing him.
Yasim Qureshi MP told the programme that the police are investigating this case and if it is found that the allegations are accurate then the MQM leader should be “duly prosecuted”. She added: “If the British authorities like Home Office have been told about previous allegations then clearly they should investigate it. If there have been offences committed then people should be dealt with.”