LONDON: London police has extended Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain's bail till July 9, 2015 after he was interviewed for more than five hours by investigating officers on Tuesday.
“I trust the British judicial system. Party workers should remain peaceful during the course of investigation,” said Altaf Hussain while coming out of the police station, DawnNews reported.
MQM chief was warmly received amid slogans as he arrived at his party’s London secretariat where he then addressed party workers and media representatives.
“Since the inception of MQM in 1978, I was tried and arrested thrice in Pakistan and now that I have come to Britain, here also I have been facing investigations. But all this is nothing in front of the aspirations I am pursuing — a prosperous and developed homeland for every Pakistani citizen,” said Altaf Hussain.
Talking about the cases pending against him in the UK, Altaf said, "Such problems do not trouble me."
Reading from a document, Altaf said he cannot speak further on the issue as he is currently facing an investigation. However, he denied any sort of involvement in the crimes associated with him and categorically refused the charges levelled against him.
“I hope that this bail extension will allow the authorities to conclude their investigations as quickly as possible. I would like to add that I formally deny the allegations set against me. I urge my millions of party members in Pakistan and all over the world to remain calm during this process. I should like to express my love to all Pakistanis and assure that I am determined,” Altaf said.
"The way I have returned, same will happen with the vacant seat of NA-246," Altaf assured his party workers.
Replying to a question regarding Imran Farooq murder case, Altaf said he will not comment on the issue since the matter is subjudice. “I urge the government to arrest the killers of Dr Imran Farooq rather than debating on the issue.”
|DawnNews screengrab shows Altaf Hussain arriving at MQM London secretariat.|
Referring to Pakistan's role in the Yemen conflict, he said Pakistan should support both Yemen and Saudi Arabia. "Our country should play the role of a facilitator and negotiator."
Earlier, the MQM chief accompanied by MQM leaders Babar Ghauri, Farooq Sattar, other members of the Rabita Committee, and his legal team, had arrived at the police station at 10:00am London time in relation to a money laundering investigation conducted by the London Metropolitan Police.
|Altaf Hussain seen entering the police station. — DawnNews screengrab|
Outside the police station, Altaf Hussain spoke to DawnNews saying he wanted all of Pakistan to pray for him. He was surrounded by security personnel, and appeared not to be in the best of health. He told DawnNews he was well, and hopeful that he would emerge victorious.
He said "Pakistan zindabad", and said 'Salam' to all Pakistanis.
Babar Ghauri and Barrister Saif, who were with him, declined to comment at the time. The MQM members who accompanied him to the police station had left the premises after seeing him off.
The party maintains that Hussain arrived at Southwark Police Station "by appointment" and was interviewed by officers from the British Metropolitan Police.
Earlier today, while addressing party workers and activists gathered at Azizabad's Jinnah Ground in Karachi, Altaf Hussain had asked his supporters to pray for him, and said that one has to undergo tests in a political struggle. He also urged his followers to remain calm.
|Altaf Hussain seen outside the police station. — DawnNews screengrab|
If the police had gathered enough evidence against him, they would have charged him. But it seems they were dissatisfied with the evidence, hence they reportedly granted him bail for the third time.
The MQM supremo was arrested on June 3, 2014 during the course of a money laundering investigation initiated in July 2013 by the London Metropolitan Police, prompting thousands of people in Karachi to stage a sit-in calling for his release.
He was then shifted to Wellington Hospital over concerns to his health and underwent angiography and other tests. Having been discharged from the hospital, Hussain was taken to the Southwark police station where he was questioned for nine hours.
During their investigations, the London Metropolitan Police had discovered ‘a considerable amount of money’ during raids on Hussain’s residence and office in London.
A statement from the police had said that the cash was found when a counter-terrorism unit of police raided Hussain’s office on Dec 6, 2012 under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act in connection with the investigation of Dr Imran Farooq murder case.
In 2010, Imran Farooq, one of MQM’s founding members and a confidant of Hussain, was murdered in London.
The MQM chief's visit to the police station coincides with the presentation of a primary suspect in Dr Imran Farooq's murder case in a Karachi court, as per an announcement made by Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Monday.
MQM's senior London-based leader Mohammad Anwar, was also arrested on April 1 by London Metropolitan Police in connection to the money laundering case. He was released on bail after ten hours of custody.
Anwar's arrest had come three weeks after a raid on the MQM's Nine-Zero headquarters in Karachi.
Living in self-exile for over two decades, Hussain gained British citizenship in 2002 after leaving Pakistan in the early 1990s when a military operation was launched to end ethnic unrest in Karachi.