Reflecting their criminal nature, the MQM mafia has torched businesses, buses, cars and trucks in Karachi as their boss is arrested in London on money laundering charges. Why should Karachi burn if the mafia don is in police custody in London?
Wednesday June 4, 2014, 09:34 DST
The arrest on money-laundering charges of MQM chief Altaf Hussain in London on June 3 has led to chaos and mayhem in Karachi. In the early morning raid on his house in London’s Edgeware Road area, the police recovered a huge amount of cash and other valuables—precious coins etc—and took the mafia head under arrest.
The statement by the London Metropolitan police was enigmatic: “a 60-year-old man had been arrested at his home in north London on suspicion of money-laundering.” They did not name the pudgy don but people in Pakistan immediately knew what had happened. They were expecting his arrest.
Pakistan’s largest city Karachi with an estimated population of some 20 million is the base of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the party founded by Altaf Hussain. Its previous name was Muhajir Qaumi Movement, indicating the immigrant roots of people that had migrated from India at the time of partition in 1947.
The party has not only dominated the industrial city’s political scene for several decades but has also established an extortionist racket where businesses—big and small—are required to pay a monthly sum to the party if they want to remain open. Failure to do so can lead to attack on the business, arson and in some instances death of the owner.
The party routinely indulges in kidnapping and torture of opponents. It runs torture cells in various parts of the city.
The arrest of Altaf Hussain was not unexpected since the London Metropolitan Police had carried out an earlier raid at his house last year. Altaf has been accused of ordering the murder of a former party associate, Imran Farooq who was stabbed to death not far from MQM offices in north London.
While not formally charged with Imran Farooq’s murder, during inquiry, the British police stumbled upon large amount of cash, 350,000 pounds in his house. This led to money laundering charges against Altaf.
Two eyewitnesses to or accomplices in Imran Farooq’s murder escaped London and are believed to have been sheltered by the former Pakistani interior minister, Rehman Malik. This vile character is popularly dubbed Shaitan Malik.
While the government has changed, perhaps Altaf Hussain’s utility to the political mafia in Pakistan has not ended. The British police would like the two suspects to be extradited for questioning to determine Altaf Hussain’s role in Imran Farooq’s murder. So far, this inquiry has not made much progress but money-laundering charges have been laid.
Altaf Hussain—Altaf Bhai to his admirers and mafia don to his detractors—has lived in London since fleeing Pakistan in 1992 when he faced torture, extortion and murder charges. Despite this, he was given political asylum in the UK and in 2002 also granted British citizenship.
Within minutes of his arrest, shops, businesses and petrol stations in the port city closed down fearing attacks by MQM zealots. They were not wrong. MQM mafia went on a rampage; dozens of cars, buses and trucks were set on fire as were businesses owned by political opponents of the MQM.
Why should businesses in Karachi suffer because the London police arrested the MQM mafia boss on money laundering charges? Even if the entire city of Karachi were set ablaze, would that make any difference to the British police investigation?
While Karachi burns, questions about MQM’s future have already emerged. Altaf Hussain maintained an iron grip on the party. He cultivated close links with the American CIA, British MI6, Indian intelligence agency RAW as well as Israeli Mossad. He has been well supplied with money and well fed. He looks like a well-stuffed ram!
A one-time cab driver in Chicago he has climbed high in the polluted politics of Pakistan. Soon after the events of 911, he wrote a letter to the Americans offering to act on their behalf in return for help in getting into power in Pakistan! He made similar offers to the British. Should the archives be opened, it is certain that the mafia don would have offered his “services” to the Hindus and zionists as well.
If Altaf Hussain remains in police custody for extended period, the chances of MQM splitting into various factions are high. This would not be bad for Pakistani politics since this mafia’s grip on Pakistan’s most important city would be broken.
Already, Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e Insaf has made major inroads into the city, much to the chagrin of MQM mafia. The don’s arrest would further undermine its grip on the city.