Monday January 30, 2023

Court hears MQM London’s telephonic recording system discarded ahead of trial

December 03, 2022

LONDON: The MQM founder and leader Altaf Hussain’s loyalists have told a court here that they recycled the BT Recording System by mistake that recorded all incoming and outgoing calls at the MQM International Secretariat in Edgware.

After MQM-Pakistan’s witnesses Dr Farooq Sattar, Nadeem Nusrat, Waseem Akhtar and Syed Aminul Haque recorded their witness statements before the Properties and Business Division of the High Court, Altaf Hussain’s allies and MQM-London’s Rabita Committee members Mustafa Ali (known as Mustafa Azizabadi) and Qasim Ali Raza appeared before the Insolvency and Companies Court (ICC) Judge Mr Clive Jones to record their witness statements in support of Altaf Hussain.

Mustafa Azizabadi and Qasim Ali Raza were cross-examined by Barrister Nazar Mohammad, on behalf of MQM-Pakistan, about the 2015 constitution, the loss of BT Recording System and the loss of UPS from the MQM-London office in April this year.

The MQM lawyer asked Altaf Hussain loyalists if they had deliberately destroyed the key evidence ahead of the trial – when they knew they the MQM-Pakistan in its claim has asked for the production of any audio, written or video evidence in support of the MQM-London’s claim that Altaf Hussain had assented the 2015 constitution.

Questioned by Nazar Mohammad, Mustafa Azizabadi and Qasim Ali Raza that the 2015 constitution, approved on 21st October 2015 according to their claim, is the only valid and effective constitution and not the end-August 2016 constitution in which Dr Farooq Sattar removed Altaf Hussain as the party chief and took over his authority.

MQM-Pakistan says Dr Farooq Sattar did so because Altaf Hussain mandated him to do so when he agreed in writing after 22nd August 2016 speech that he was handing over affairs of the party to MQM-Pakistan and that matters of the party would be run from Karachi.

Mustafa Azizabadi told the judge that he, Qasim Ali Raza and former MPA Suffyan Yousuf discarded the BT recorder system along with over a dozen UPS after the Scotland Yard returned these devices to the MQM in April this year after closing all investigations into Altaf Hussain – money laundering, Imran Farooq case and the hate speech case.

He said he came to know first that the recording system actually had a full system when the police told them – after arresting Altaf Hussain in 2019 over the hate speech charges – that they had a transcript of conversation between Altaf Hussain and Hussain Haqqani, the former Pakistan ambassador to the USA.

Both Azizabadi and Qasim Ali stressed that they didn’t deliberately destroy the gadgets and were not aware that the system could be used for a full spectrum recording system. Azizabadi told the court that he and others understood that Hussain was taking only a short break to concentrate on his health issues as this was party’s main concern that he should pay attention to his health.

He told the court he was present during the telephonic conversation in October 2015 during which the 2015 constitution was approved. Nadeem Nusrat was appointed convener of the party in mid-October 2015 and therefore I believe that the said constitution would have been approved by the Central coordination Committee of both Pakistan and London on 21st October 2016 and ratified by Altaf Hussain the next day on 22nd October, said Azizabadi under cross-examination.

Questioned why the MQM didn’t register this constitution with the Election Commission of Pakistan, Azizabadi told the court “it was the responsibility of Dr Farooq Sattar to submit the approved 2015 constitution to the ECP”.

The court had earlier Ordered the MQM-London to explain “what searches they have carried out to identify the recording tapes which record the incoming and outgoing telephone calls from MQM’s London office at 1st Floor Elizabeth House during the period 21-22 October 2015” and explain the position if no recording tapes have been found”.

The main issue in relation to the 2015 constitution is when Altaf Hussain gave his assent for the apparent approval, the recording tapes were demanded by the Claimants lawyer to confirm if Altaf indeed did give his assent, MQM London had always recorded every call incoming and outgoing from their offices since 1992, so something this important must be recorded.

The claim and defence revolve around MQM’s constitution. The MQM-Pakistan says it’s the real and only MQM which is continuation of the MQM that existed on 22nd August 2016 and onwards after MQM in Pakistan separated ways from Altaf Hussain in London.

The MQM-Pakistan says that it is governed by the original party constitution of 2012, which empowered Altaf Hussain but which was amended in August 2016 to disempower Altaf Hussain. The MQM-Pakistan says it amended the constitution on 31st August 2016, removing powers of Altaf Hussain and that the MQM-Pakistan didn’t need Altaf Hussain’s approval under 9-B as the two-third majority approved it.