Interned Karachi mayor nominee vows to wage legal battle against ‘false’ cases

Published August 21, 2016
KARACHI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement leaders Rauf Siddiqui and Waseem Akhtar flash a V-sign while being brought to an antiterrorism court here on Saturday—PPI
KARACHI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement leaders Rauf Siddiqui and Waseem Akhtar flash a V-sign while being brought to an antiterrorism court here on Saturday—PPI

KARACHI: Waseem Akhtar, the imprisoned leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement who is set to become the mayor of Karachi, has vowed to wage a legal battle against what he describes as concocted cases, saying he is quite confident the judiciary will give him justice.

“We respect the judiciary and we will continue our legal battle and face all false charges against us in courts. We want justice and believe that the courts will definitely do justice to us,” Mr Akhtar told newsmen at the antiterrorism court complex here on Saturday following a court appearance.

Mr Akhtar’s party has fielded him as its candidate for the Aug 24 election of the office of Karachi mayor. And based on its numerical strength in the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s Council — 214 members out of the total 308 elected members — Mr Akhtar’s victory in the mayoral election is a foregone conclusion.

He has been in prison since July 19 after the Anti-Terrorism Court-II dismissed his pre-arrest interim bail application in the terrorists’ treatment case. Later, police got his physical remand in two cases pertaining to listening to the controversial speeches of MQM chief Altaf Hussain. The police booked him in seven terrorism cases pertaining to the May 12, 2007 mayhem following the expiry of the police remand.

On Saturday, a contingent of police brought Mr Akhtar, MPA Rauf Siddiqui, Pakistan Peoples Party’s Abdul Qadir Patel and Pasban’s Usman Moazzam to the ATC Complex from the Karachi central prison. Pak Sarzameen Party president Anis Kaimkhani was also produced in court after being driven from the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, where he is being treated. The main suspect, Dr Asim Hussain, was not produced in court because of his poor health.

Wearing off-white trousers and a sky-blue shirt, Mr Akhtar looked tired but composed during the court appearance and his brief conversation with the media.

In response to a question, he appreciated Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah for working for the good of the province. “He is the chief executive of the province and it is good if he is working [for the province] because it’s his responsibility to rid the province of problems.”

However, he replied in the negative when asked whether there was any contact made from the government side. “I am in contact with my lawyers [in prison] and sometimes my family also comes,” he added.

He evaded a direct question about “working” from prison to resolve the problems of Karachi after being elected as Karachi mayor. “Let’s see... what’s the hurry?”

Indictment on Sept 17

The judge of the ATC-II declared MQM’s London-based leader Saleem Shahzad a proclaimed offender and separated his case from those of the held suspects.

The investigation officer submitted a report under Sections 87 (proclamation for persons absconding) and 88 (attachment of property of person absconding) of the criminal procedure code against Shahzad, informing the court that he did not own any property in the country.

The court fixed September 17 as the next date of hearing. The suspects would be indicted on the next date.

Earlier, the court issued a notice to the prosecutor for Sept 17 on an application of Gulshan SP Dr Fahad Ahmed seeking access to Dr Hussain to record his statement for an inquiry into his alleged confessional video aired by different news channels.

In the said video, which went viral in June this year, Dr Hussain had accused Owais Muzaffar aka Tappi, said to be the foster brother of former president Asif Ali Zardari, for being involved in “all kinds of corruption” and becoming the virtual chief minister of Sindh.

The standing committee on information and broadcasting of the National Assembly had directed the Sindh police to investigate the regular appearances of alleged confessional videos of undertrial prisoners. The committee had also asked the additional inspector general for Sindh to investigate the leaked video statement of Dr Hussain.

Dr Hussain, along with other suspects, has been booked for allegedly treating and harbouring activists of banned militant outfits, “political militants” and Lyari gangsters at his Dr Ziauddin Hospital at the behest of the held MQM, PPP and Pasban leaders.

Published in Dawn, August 21st, 2016

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