KARACHI, June 30: Shortly after MQM chief Altaf Hussain withdrew his resignation announced earlier over a perceived attempt by the London Metropolitan Police to falsely implicate him in the Dr Imran Farooq murder case, party leaders and parliamentarians in Karachi staged a protest demonstration outside the British deputy high commission on Sunday afternoon.
He told scores of workers, gathered at the party’s Nine Zero headquarters to persuade him to take back his decision, that he did want arrest of the killers of Dr Farooq but it was better for the United Kingdom to stop hatching a conspiracy to falsely implicate him directly or indirectly in the murder case.
It all started in the early hours of Sunday when Mr Hussain told a private television channel over phone in London that he was voluntarily quitting the MQM as its leader (Quaid) because the London Metropolitan Police had raided his house and taken away many things in connection with the Dr Farooq murder probe. “When the house of a person who happens to be the leader of millions is raided, then it becomes imperative for him to leave the party leadership on legal and moral grounds,” he said.
Sources in the MQM said that Mr Hussain did not take anyone in the party in London and Karachi into confidence before announcing such a major decision, which came as a shock even for them.
As the TV channel ran the breaking news of Mr Hussain’s announcement, MQM workers and sympathisers, including women, flocked to Nine Zero to reaffirm their allegiance to their leader and shouted slogans that they would never accept this decision of their leader.
Some MQM leaders told journalists that two decisions regarding quitting the party and to return to Pakistan were not even in Mr Hussain’s hand and it was the sole prerogative of party workers to decide on the two issues.
The crowd was emotionally charged, some people were seen crying, and MQM legislators and members of the 1coordination committee declared that they would also leave their offices and responsibilities if Mr Hussain did not take back his decision.
The workers announced that they would not end their sit-in till Mr Hussain reversed his decision. Similar sit-ins of workers were also held in Hyderabad and other cities and towns. Finally, Mr Hussain started his telephonic address.
In an intense speech, which was covered live by every news channel, Mr Hussain told his workers that he was being treated as a suspect in the murder probe of Dr Imran Farooq and last week the Scotland Yard and Metropolitan Police raided his house in London and seized many things.
“Today I am being asked from where the money comes...don’t they know that hundreds of thousands of followers silently give donation and do not even demand a receipt that this (donation) is only for you.”
He said that it was not possible for him to continue leading the MQM while staying in the UK amid such serious allegations regarding involvement in the Dr Farooq murder case or suspicions of money laundering.
He said that until a decision on these allegations the MQM coordination committee would lead the party.
Mr Hussain said he did not violate any law and would never do so while staying in the UK. He said that if Dr Farooq murder case was taken up by courts he would not engage any lawyer, solicitor or barrister and would defend his case personally and would accept every decision of the court whether in his favour or not. “I do not want to show the world that I have no faith in courts.”
He said the British intelligence agencies must find the killers of Dr Farooq and bring them to justice, but they should not try to directly or indirectly implicate him in the murder. He said the British establishment could easily take him down and no-one would know about it.
MQM workers and leaders rejected his decision and said they would not consider an MQM without him. They assured him that they would never leave him come what may and would face all the consequences along with him.
Mr Hussain asked his workers to leave aside their emotions and think that it would not suit him to lead the party until these allegations were proved wrong.
Hearing this, the MQM workers told him that he was not allowed to take this decision and everyone in the MQM could be replaced but not him.
Mr Hussain said people and television anchors would criticise him for taking back his decision. Upon which, the MQM workers told him that they did not care about them and he should reconsider his decision.
He announced that he would continue to lead the party because his workers considered him their leader.
Earlier, Dr Farooq’s widow, Shumaila Imran, also appeared on various television channels and, in a choked voice, appealed to Mr Hussain to reconsider his decision.
Later in the evening, MQM leaders and its parliamentarians held a demonstration in front of the British deputy high commission in Karachi in protest over the police raid at Mr Hussain’s house and his alleged media trial.
Dr Farooq Sattar told reporters that the step taken by the London Metropolitan Police gave an opportunity to MQM opponents to spread negative propaganda against Mr Hussain. He said the MQM would approach courts in the UK and outside against the media trial of Mr Hussain and his party.
The MQM also submitted a memorandum to the British deputy high commission.