Monday May 27, 2024

Key former UK diplomat’s whereabouts not known

By Murtaza Ali Shah
April 06, 2016

Shaharyar Khan Niazi led negotiations between the MQM and UK govt

LONDON/KARACHI: Britain’s former Deputy Head of Mission Shaharyar Khan Niazi played central role in facilitating contact and negotiations between the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), other Pakistani political parties and the British government.

The News has learnt from credible MQM sources that Shaharyar Khan Niazi remained at the heart of the policy making as far Britain’s dealing with the MQM was concerned during the most crucial period, which was during 2011 until 2013.

It is during this time that that the former co-founder and top leader of the MQM Dr Imran Farooq was assassinated in London and also the money laundering investigation into Altaf Hussain started. This period saw that while the police continued to piece together the murder plot of Dr Imran Farooq, relations between the MQM and the UK remained fine and even improved in many areas. Top MQM sources have said that Shahryar Khan Niazi played a key role in facilitating the contact between the two.

The news of Dr Imran Farooq killing rocked Pakistan and gave a jolt to the British government as attention of the investigators was immediately drawn to the MQM’s London based leadership.

Few months after the party, relations between the MQM and the British government became tense because British soil was used to kill Dr Farooq. Its during that time that Shahryar Khan Niazi gained infunece at the heart of the policy making due to his sharp diplomatic skills and grip on the affairs related to Karachi.

So who is this mystery figure who became the first ever local Pakistani, carrying Pakistani passport, who got promoted as the Head of Deputy Mission at the British High Commission in Karachi and made history in the process as no Pakistani prior to that was appointed at such a crucial role.

Background investigation by this scribe reveals that Shaharyar Khan Niazi worked at the British High Commission for nearly 12 years. He gained experience and influence in the process and it was in 2010 that the British government took the unusual step of making him the deputy head of mission as the UK went for austerity measures and appointed many bright non-British diplomats in their missions abroad.

Sources told that Shahryar was known in Karachi's political circles for his work on human rights, conflict prevention, peace and stability. He also brought many business delegations from the Sindh province to the UK. During the last visit to the UK, Shahryar Niazi was accompanied by Governor Sindh Ishrad ul Ebad, Babar Ghauri, Pir Mazhar ul Haq, Raza Haroon, Dr Sagheer Ahmed and others. The delegation took a whirlwind of tour of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, signing MOUs worth a few millions dollars. The delegation claimed that they were encouraging UK businesses to invest in Pakistan but all the contracts signed were Karachi specific and Pir Mazharul Haq was able to get only one MOU fort education sector in Sindh.

So where is this mysterious former diplomat who has almost completely slipped off from the radar. He has not been seen in public after quitting his position nearly three years ago. Sources said that Shahryar Khan Niazi quit his job in mysterious circumstances and its believed that he has been under pressure ever since in Pakistan to remain quiet about his time at the heart of the decision making with reference to Karachi.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior MQM leader confirmed that Shahryar Khan Niazi attended many MQM held between the UK authorities and the MQM and regularly briefed the MQM.

A source, who has known Shahryar Khan Niazi, told The News that the former diplomat has faced threats and harassment from various quarters and its due to security concerns that he has almost gone completely underground.