ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Saturday registered a case against Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain and other party leaders in the murder of former MQM leader Dr Imran Farooq.

The news surfaced when polling in Karachi, a traditional MQM stronghold, for local government elections was under way.

The case, filed by FIA's counter-terrorism wing in Islamabad, has been registered for “conspiracy, assistance, abettment and ultimately assassination /murder of Dr Imran farooq, ex-parliamentarian and senior member of MQM in London on Sept 2010. The case has been registered under sections 302, 34, 109, 120B of the Pakistan Penal Code and section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act,” read a statement issued by the agency.

“The government of Pakistan through FIA's counter-terrorism wing is the complainant in the case.”

Others nominated in the case include Mohammad Anwar, Iftikhar Hussain, Moazzam Ali Khan, Kashif Khan Kamran, Syed Mohsin Ali and Khalid Shamim.

‘Attempt to malign MQM’

MQM leader Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, reacting to the development, questioned the ‘timing’ of the case, adding that “it was an attempt to malign the MQM.”

“Our voters will clearly know the intention behind such a decision by the government. MQM workers will not be deterred by such baseless allegations,” he said, while talking to Geo News.

An editorial published in Dawn earlier in the week, criticised the decision by the interior minister as an “absurd notion which is only heightened, perhaps, by the fact that not just does it come from Pakistan, but also comes from amongst the highest tiers of government and concerns a high-profile murder case that is potentially politically explosive”.

Earlier, Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan had stated that the federal government has decided to lodge a First Information Report (FIR) in Dr Imran Farooq murder case in Pakistan.

Editorial: Imran Farooq case

He had said that Imran Farooq was a Pakistani national and that is why Pakistan extended full cooperation to Britain in investigation of the case and shared all information.

Dr Farooq, a senior leader of MQM, was murdered outside his home in London in 2010.

Scotland Yard investigations

Two of the nominated suspects — Syed Mohsin Ali and Kashif Khan Kamran — are said to have acquired British visa on the basis of their admission to the London Academy of Management Sciences in East London.

Mohsin went to the UK in February, 2010, and lived in a number of places in London. Kashif reached there in early September, 2010.

According to information shared by the UK, phone records showed that they usually moved together and were allegedly in contact with a close relative of MQM chief Altaf Hussain.

They left the UK on Sept 16, 2010, hours after the murder, for Sri Lanka before travelling to Karachi on Sept 19.

Mohsin Ali was arrested along with another accused, Khalid Shamim, in July, 2015, by the Frontier Corps in Balochistan.

Moazzam Ali Khan was arrested by law-enforcement agencies in Karachi this year. He was accused of arranging tickets, visa and finances for the UK visit of Mohsin and Kashif.

It has been reported that the Metropolitan police have reasons to believe that Mohsin and Kashif stabbed Dr Farooq to death before fleeing the country.

The whereabouts of Kashif are not known and there are rumours that he is not alive.

Khalid Shamim is accused of being a part of the murder plot and investigations suggest that he had met Mohsin and Kashif and arranged their meeting with Moazzam.

During its visit to Islamabad in July, 2015, the Scotland Yard team quizzed accused Moazzam Ali Khan, Khalid Shamim and Mohsin Ali.

Related: UK team interrogates key suspect in Imran Farooq murder case.

Iftikhar Hussain, 53-year-old nephew of MQM chief, was originally arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder in October 2014, then released on police bail, according to a BBC report from 2014. MQM claimed the arrest was based on wrong information.

Barrister Nasim described Iftikhar Hussain as “not a person who is really with himself mentally” and added that Iftikhar Hussain had suffered at the hands of the Pakistani authorities.