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ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has formally reached out to former MQM donor Sarfaraz Merchant and former Karachi nazim Mustafa Kamal over allegations that the party received funds from the Indian intelligence agency.

FIA Islamabad Director Inam Ghani told Dawn he spoke to Merchant — who is also one of the suspects in a money laundering case in London linked to the MQM — and invited him to come to Pakistan to record his statement and share the evidence he had spoken of with the FIA.

Mr Ghani said that Merchant had not refused the invitation, but sought time to consult his lawyers before travelling. Before this telephonic contact, Merchant was sent a summons, which he confirmed receiving.

Merchant had offered to assist the government in the investigations into allegations that the MQM had monetary support from the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). Mr Ghani said Merchant was expected to respond to the invitation by Monday.

Meanwhile, FIA Sindh Director Shahid Hayat established contact with Mustafa Kamal in Karachi to seek his cooperation. Sources say that Mr Kamal is likely to meet FIA authorities soon.

Days before the start of high-profile desertions from the MQM, Sarfaraz Merchant had claimed that a list of weapons had been recovered from the house of Altaf Hussain in London and that the party was receiving funding from Indian sources.

Mr Kamal, who came to limelight after he became nazim of Karachi in 2005, developed quite a reputation for his efforts to improve public service delivery in the city.

He settled in Dubai in 2013 after reportedly developing differences with MQM chief Altaf Hussain. He re-entered the spotlight last week when he spoke against the MQM leader at a press conference and accused him of being an Indian agent who has mismanaged the affairs of Pakistan’s biggest city from his base in London.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had formed an FIA committee to investigate these allegations and other related matters and appealed to all Pakistanis to share any evidence or information they may have in this regard.

Published in Dawn, March 13th, 2016