LONDON: Three senior leaders of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (London) were interrogated extensively at the Washington Dulles Airport recently, it has been learnt.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the US immigration authorities stopped and interrogated MQM London’s lawyer and Altaf Hussain’s aide Adil Ghaffar, Rabita Committee members Qasim Ali Raza and Nadeem Ehsan when they were en route to meet three US Congressmen in Washington DC recently.
A source said the interrogation lasted several hours. They were interrogated again on their way out from the Washington Dulles Airport and held for extensive questioning. The source said the questions about MQM’s activities in Washington and their source of funding were asked by the US government agents. The US agents also asked the MQM delegation about the purpose of their visit, said the source.
Adil Ghaffar, Qasim Raza and Nadeem Ehsan were visiting Washington ot the invitation of the MQM USA team to attend “Mohajir Day on The Hill”. After the split in MQM-London, firstrevealed in The News last year, Qasim Raza, Adil Ghaffar and Nadeem Ehsan have risen in party ranks and all of them report directly to Altaf Hussain. They stayed in the capital for five days and held talks with US Congressmen, the State Department officials and lobbying firms.
The MQM’s former senior leader Nadeem Nusrat and Wasay Jalil are no more part of the MQM-London and both are running a group called the Voice of Karachi and SAMAF and recently held an event which was attended by nearly a dozen US congressmen. Altaf Hussain, the founder and leader of the MQM, authorized the travel of his associates to the USA for lobbying,
The MQM-London felt the need to send its own delegation to Washington after Nadeem Nusrat separated from the MQM-London in 2017, packed his bags and returned to Washington DC, 15 years after being called over by the MQM supremo to help with the running of International Secretariat.
The MQM said that it was meeting the US Congressmen to highlight issues of Karachi and the Urdu-speaking community. It has complained of discrimination against its workers and office holders – a charge aurthorities in Pakistan have rejected, who accuse the MQM of involvement in acts of sabotage and terrorism. There were reports that the MQM founder could visit Washington himself and he had also indicated that he may travel to Washington DC but he decided not to take the risk. The News put questions to the MQM and received a short reply. “We deny all these fabricated and baseless allegations,” said a statement issued by the International Secretariat.
For about five years now, the United States of America is denying asylum and residency applications to the members of political and religious organizations like MQM and many others classified as “Tier III terrorist organization”.
Two courts in the US confirmed that they refused asylum applications of two MQM-affiliated applicants citing MQM’s links with “deadly violence” and the classification of the party as a Tier III Designated organisation. The Geo News had reported in mid 2016 that the MQM Rabitta Committee members Shabbir Qaimkhani and Kaiful Wara were deported in the third week of August from the Washington DC airport on the same charges. The United States District Court on August 2016 in Jamal Vs Johnson case found that "MQM is an undesignated terrorist organization".
The court further observed that the MQM does not have any exemptions that meet the criteria to exempt it from being classed a tier 3 terrorist organization: "Currently, there are no available exemptions that apply to the MQM or to Plaintiff's individual circumstances."
The issue of MQM’s Tier III organisation surfaced first during a court hearing in the US District Court for the eastern District of Pennsylvania, where the immigration appeal for a former MQM activist Aqueel Ahmed was discussed. Ahmed had applied for asylum based on fear of persecution in Pakistan.
The case was heard by a judge on 14th of March 2014, and the US government agencies were told to respond within 120 days. Page 18 out of the 23-page long document obtained by The News states that US government lawyers told the court: "Ahmed’s case requires special consideration because it 'involves participation in a group that is of such national security concern to the United States as to warrant categorization as a terrorist organization.' "
According to the court papers, Ahmed, who collected donations for the organization, applied for asylum in 1997. On December 2, 1998, an immigration judge granted his request for asylum.
On February 14, 2006, Ahmed filed a Form I- 485 application for adjustment of immigration status to become a legal permanent resident. On February 13, 2008, the USCIS denied Ahmed’s application on the basis that he was a member of the MQM-A.