Source: Express Tribune
KARACHI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leaders on Sunday asked the British government as to why their party chief, Altaf Hussain, was being ‘harassed’ and his bank accounts being frozen.
“I want to ask Britain’s Prime Minster David Cameron why Altaf Hussain is being harassed when the MQM is fully cooperating in police investigations.
“Why are his bank accounts being frozen when no FIR has been lodged against him and no charge framed in court,” said senior MQM lawmaker Dr Farooq Sattar, while addressing a rally in Karachi. Thousands of MQM workers had turned up to express solidarity with their leader.
Sattar said Altaf’s last bank account would also be frozen by the British authorities on June 6. “In the money laundering case, we have submitted proof of every penny received. I want to ask the UK authorities as to how a UK resident can survive without a bank account. How will he pay his utility bills and cater to the needs of his 11-year-old daughter?”
In a TV interview last week, Altaf had revealed that all his bank accounts in Britain had been frozen by the authorities.
“Altaf Hussain’s right to life is being violated. This is a matter of human rights,” he said, adding that the UK authorities were violating human rights as well as the Magna Carta.
He said that his party has approached British courts against the ‘injustice’, and would also demonstrate outside 10 Downing Street, but would continue to cooperate in investigations.
He said Altaf Hussain has a hobby of collecting coins which was not a cognizable offense. “We will not tolerate prejudice whether in the UK or in Pakistan,” he added.
MQM Deputy Convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui claimed that 200,000 people had turned up at the rally to express solidarity with their leader. “Altaf was the one who gave us an identity,” he said as the participants shouted ‘We love Altaf Hussain’.
Barrister Saif Ali said that the people who thought they could damage Altaf’s ideology and movement – by closing bank accounts and levelling false accusations – were mistaken. “He is not afraid of any cases.”
MQM MNA Nabil Gabol said those accusing Altaf of money laundering should first see the $200 billion stashed in Swiss banks, and the palatial mansions near Hyde Park in London. “Only a small house belonging to a poor man on Edgware Road is being targeted.”
“Altaf Hussain doesn’t need any identity card or passport to prove his Pakistani identity. If Altaf is not a Pakistani, then Nawaz Sharif and Chaudhry Nisar are also not Pakistanis,” he said.
“Whenever Altaf comes to Karachi, millions of people will go to the airport to receive him and will take him to Nine Zero without any passport,” he said.
Another MQM leader, Haider Abbas Rizvi said that Altaf Hussain was the only modern, liberal and secular leader in Pakistan. “His views should be heard and his issues resolved,” he appealed to the British premier.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 26th, 2014.