KARACHI: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has received funding from Indian authorities, claims a startling report published by the BBC on Wednesday.
According to the report which quotes an unnamed "authoritative Pakistani source", officials in MQM have told UK authorities that they received Indian government funds.
The report further states that UK authorities investigating MQM for alleged money laundering also found a list of weapons in an MQM property.
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MQM Coordination Committee Member Wasay Jalil in response to the report posted a short statement to Twitter, rejecting BBC's allegations.
In response to a question on Twitter about a confessional statement available with Scotland Yard, Jalil said, "We have seen these confessions since '92".
The report also said that British authorities held formal recorded interviews with senior MQM officials who told them the party was receiving Indian funding.
It also said that a Pakistani official has told the BBC that India has trained hundreds of MQM militants in explosives, weapons and sabotage over the last 10 years in camps in north and north-east India.
"A Pakistani official has told the BBC that India has trained hundreds of MQM militants over the last 10 years," the report says.
The report says, "Before 2005-2006 the training was given to a small number of mid-ranking members of the MQM, the official said."
"More recently greater numbers of more junior party members have been trained."
The MQM called an emergency meeting of its coordination committee after the BBC report was made public.
The party rejected all allegations made in the BBC report in a statement published on its official website.
In its statement, the MQM termed the BBC report a part of the "media trial that has been ongoing for past several years" against the party. The statement goes on to say that all allegations against the MQM in the BBC report originate from a "Pakistani source," which "in itself speaks for the authenticity of these allegations."
MQM Coordination Committee Member Wasay Jalil shared with Dawn.com MQM London-based leader Mohammad Anwar's response to the BBC report:
"Dear Ms Peevor (of the BBC)
As you will have guessed from my last response, I am frustrated that you are not willing to be more specific. We are not prepared to comment on rumours. In addition, as far as the UK is concerned you will be aware that there is an ongoing police investigation, although no charges have been brought, and the legal advice which we have received is that we should not comment. I would urge you not to broadcast these defamatory allegations. They will do nothing to assist a fair trial should any prosecution be brought here, and are likely to have a significant adverse impact on the already tense situation in Pakistan.
The Indian authorities described the claims as "completely baseless", says the report, adding that the MQM refused to comment.
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When asked about claims regarding funding and training of MQM, the Indian High Commission in London said: "shortcomings of governance cannot be rationalised by blaming neighbours."
Earlier in May, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Malir Rao Anwar claimed to have arrested two MQM workers allegedly trained by RAW and demanded that the MQM be banned for being “a terrorist party”.
In July 2013, the UK’s BBC Two programme ‘Newsnight’ hosted by Owen Benett Jones, had reported that MQM Chief Altaf Hussain is being investigated for money laundering worth at least 400,000 pounds as well as for incitement to violence.
The news was part of a short documentary prepared by Newsnight on the MQM, and included video clips of Mr Hussain making violent statements, an outline of the death of assassinated party leader Imran Farooq, as well as interviews with a former MQM leader, a policeman accusing the party of murder and party leader Farooq Sattar.
In Jan 2014, another BBC news report had identified the names of two suspects in the Dr Imran Farooq murder case.
The report said that based on the documents received from Pakistani officials the two suspects were identified, for the first time, by the names of Mohsin Ali Syed and Muhammad Kashif Khan, who were staying on student visa in England.
Owen Bennett Jones, a former BBC Correspondent in Islamabad, presents Newshour on the BBC World Service and is the author of Pakistan: Eye of the Storm.
Viewed as the man who controls Karachi from London, Altaf Hussain is the founder and chief of MQM. Previously known as the Mohajir Qaumi Movement, Hussain’s party started off as a political group with the aim of representing the Urdu-speaking community which had migrated to Pakistan due to Partition.
Profile: Altaf Hussain
Hussain’s political career began during his student years in Karachi University when he and Azeem Ahmed Tariq founded the All-Pakistan Mohajir Students Organisation (APMSO).
Under Hussain’s leadership, MQM swept the 1988 election in Sindh’s urban areas, emerging as the third largest party.
In the 1990 election, MQM again emerged as the third largest party forming an alliance and a coalition government with Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N), the leading party at the time. The coalition partners had a falling out in 1992.
In the early 1990s, the MQM chief went into exile as the government at the time conducted an operation in Karachi. The operation, said to be directed against “terrorist” and “criminal” elements in Karachi, resulted in effectively becoming action against MQM and with it, Karachi was caught in the middle of a war involving law enforcement agencies and political parties.
In 1997, MQM changed its name from Mohajir Qaumi Movement to Muttahida Qaumi Movement in order to develop from a party representing a single community to one that could play a greater role in national politics.