KARACHI: Two days before his crucial appearance before British investigators in a money-laundering case, Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain formed a supreme council “to lead the party in extraordinary circumstances that also include his non-availability”.
Mr Hussain is on bail and will appear before the British investigators on Feb 2.
The MQM coordination committee formed the supreme council at its meeting in London on Saturday and appointed Nadeem Nusrat as permanent convener of the committee.
An MQM statement released from London on Sunday said the supreme council comprised Mr Nusrat, Dr Farooq Sattar, Barrister Dr Farogh Nasim, Nasreen Jalil, Kanwar Naveed Jameel, Rauf Siddiqui, Babar Ghouri, Kishwar Zahra and Iftikhar Hussain.
Supreme council set up to lead MQM in ‘extraordinary circumstances’
“This council will lead the coordination committee, office-bearers and workers of the party and the people in any kind of extraordinary situation, including Quaid-i-Tehreek Altaf Hussain’s immediate non-availability,” said the statement.
A senior MQM leader told Dawn that the meeting discussed three possibilities with regard to Mr Hussain’s hearing.
“The UK authorities may either clear him [Hussain] or extend his police bail to another period like they did it before on different occasions. Or this time they may charge him, which could lead to his detention,” he said, on the condition of anonymity. “The formation of the supreme council is a pre-emptive move as it will take some time to file a bail application in case of his arrest.”
He said the MQM was fully prepared for any eventuality and ready to contest all charges, if filed, in UK courts. “We want them [British authorities] to conclude their investigation as soon as possible.”
While the nine-member council became the highest forum of the party, another leader told Dawn that it had not replaced the MQM’s coordination committee which would continue to work as the top decision-making forum and running the day-to-day organisational affairs of the party.
The London-based Nadeem Nusrat is the third permanent convenor of the MQM coordination committee since its formation. The first convenor was Ishtiaq Azhar and the second Dr Imran Farooq. Dr Ishratul Ibad has also worked as acting convenor before taking oath as Sindh governor.
Mr Hussain was arrested on June 3, 2014, by the London Metropolitan Police in connection with the money-laundering investigation. He was released on police bail after a few days and since then the bail has been extended. The British investigators had questioned Mr Hussain for five hours on Oct 5 last year and extended his bail.
The investigation was launched after the Metropolitan Police claimed having found hundreds of thousands of pounds during raids on an MQM office and on Mr Hussain’s residence in London. The raids were conducted in connection with the investigation into MQM leader Dr Imran Farooq’s murder, who was stabbed to death on Sept 16, 2010, in London.
Published in Dawn, February 1st, 2016