KARACHI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain has condemned the Rangers’ raid on the party’s headquarters Nine Zero and claimed that personnel of the paramilitary force brought the weapons and ammunition ‘wrapped in blankets’ with them and then claimed the recovery from there.

Addressing workers gathered at the party’s headquarters after the Rangers raid on Wednesday, the MQM chief said the ‘establishment’ had never accepted him and for that he could step down from active politics to look after the party’s welfare wing. The raid was ‘staged’ by Rangers, he added.

But in the same breath, Mr Hussain came up with a kind of endorsement of the Rangers’ claim about the arrest of a convicted man and other suspects. He said if anyone had “committed some mistakes”, he could have taken shelter somewhere else instead of Nine Zero. It brought the entire party under crisis, Mr Hussain observed.

“This is not the first time that this place [Nine Zero] has been raided. The place has been raided more than 100 times since 1992. Even my elder brother and his young son were shot dead after five days of torture in 1995. At that time I never took law into my hands and asked my workers to be patient and calm. I repeat the same appeal today,” he said.

The Muttahida supremo claimed that MQM worker Waqas Shah had been killed in firing by Rangers and the arms which were being shown as recovery from Nine Zero did not belong to the party.

“We never had such kind of arms which Rangers claimed had been recovered from Nine Zero,” he said, adding: “The arms used by Nine Zero for security purpose are licensed. Eyewitnesses have seen Rangers bringing these arms wrapped in blankets.”

Mr Hussain regretted that despite his clear stance and zero tolerance against terrorism, suspects and a convicted man were claimed to have been arrested from the party’s headquarters. Giving his own example, he said that those men could have lived anywhere, but not in Nine Zero.

“Even I have been living in Britain for a long time. They (arrested men) should have found some place anywhere so that the party could do something to help them out. They should not be at Nine Zero to put the entire party in crisis,” he said.

Mr Hussain regretted that the law applied to “only a certain class” while the other class was above rules and regulations.

Rangers raided the houses of “unarmed and innocent people without any warrant and process” and took along every youngster of the area, he claimed.

“If Rangers were looking for criminals at Nine Zero, why they raided the house of my 70-year-old widowed sister Saira Aslam,” he wondered.

Mr Hussain repeatedly said the ‘establishment’ had never accepted him and recognised the MQM as a party, although it had emerged as a political force with the third largest mandate.

He asked the party’s coordination committee to decide a role for him for future because the establishment did not want him to play an active political role.

“If the establishment doesn’t like my face then hand me over the activities of Khidmat-i-Khalq Foundation [MQM’s welfare wing],” he said.

PHONE CALL: The Muttahida chief called PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari who, according to an MQM statement, condemned the raid on ‘Nine Zero’ and vowed to continue cooperation between the two parties to protect democracy.

“Altaf Hussain called the former president and briefed him on the ‘illegal and arbitrary’ raid on the MQM headquarters Nine Zero and arrest of party’s office-bearers,” the statement said.

“Mr Zardari condemned the raid and called for respecting the sanctity of political offices.”

Mr Zardari, the statement said, had also condemned the ‘arbitrary’ raid on the house of Mr Hussain’s sister and maltreatment of Rangers personnel, especially use of filthy language with women living there.

The conversation was followed by a telephonic call from PPP leader Rahman Malik to Mr Hussain. Mr Malik also condemned the ‘illegal raid’, said another MQM statement.

Published in Dawn March 12th , 2015

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