KARACHI: Sindh Rangers on Monday night initiated action against Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), for allegedly inciting violence in the metropolis.
The paramilitary forces raided party headquarters Nine Zero, took senior party leaders into custody and sealed MQM offices there.
Rangers’ Brigadier Khurram, while briefing media about the operation in the wee hours of Tuesday, confirmed that MQM’s office, Khursheed Memorial Hall and party's media department has been sealed.
He said the paramilitary force also recovered weapons from Nine Zero, which will be sent for forensic tests.
The Rangers officer further said that the operation on MQM headquarters was carried out in accordance with law.
What we know so far
- Dr Farooq Sattar, Khawaja Izhar, Dr Amir Liaquat taken into custody by Rangers
- Rangers raid MQM headquarters
- Nine Zero, MQM chief's residence and party's media cell sealed
- MQM website blocked soon after late-night raid
- PM Nawaz Sharif calls high-level meeting on Tuesday to discuss Karachi's situation
The action followed after violent protesters attacked an ARY News office in the Saddar area of the metropolis, which resulted in clashes between police and the angry mob — killing one person and injuring several others.
Police and sections of the media alleged that MQM workers had carried out the attack after receiving directives in a speech by MQM Chief Altaf Hussain.
MQM leaders Dr Farooq Sattar and Khawaja Izharul Hasan were among the first to be taken into custody while they were trying to address the media outside Karachi Press Club.
The two leaders had gathered to address the media in connection to the attack on ARY News, however, as they were about to start the press conference, Rangers officials arrived at the site and asked both the leaders to come to Rangers headquarters.
Sattar attempted to resist being taken into custody but was eventually convinced to follow orders. Khawaja Izhar also accompanied him to the Rangers headquarters. DawnNews reported that Rangers officials informed the MQM leaders that DG Rangers Major General Bilal Akbar wanted to see them.
The raid on MQM headquarters Nine Zero in the Azizabad neighbourhood began shortly after.
According to initial reports, nine MQM members were taken into custody from Nine Zero, including senior party leaders.
The paramilitary forces also arrested MQM leader Dr Amir Liaquat from his office on I.I. Chundrigar Road.
The party offices that were sealed include Nine Zero, the MQM chief’s residence and various sector and unit offices in Gulshan-i-Iqbal, Malir and Gulistan-i-Jauhar areas. MQM's media cell was also sealed.
MQM’s official website could no longer be accessed following the raid.
The zonal headquarter of MQM in Hyderabad at Bhai Khan ki Chari and a number of sector and unit offices were also padlocked by police.
Heavy contingent of police arrived at the zonal office and padlocked the main secretariat and linked offices. Moreover, sector offices in Latifabad and other parts of the city were also sealed; however, no arrests were made.
'Situation under control'
Justifying action against the MQM, DawnNews quoted DG Rangers as saying, "We don’t want the common citizens of Karachi to suffer any harm or losses...a certain segment is inciting the security forces to violence but we will not fall into their trap."
Major General Bilal Akbar assured that future arrests in connection to the attack on ARY News would only be made based on identification of protesters by Farooq Sattar.
Sindh Rangers also urged the citizens to help them identify the "miscreants" who allegedly raised anti-Pakistan slogans during the protest outside Press Club.
Regarding the earlier attack on ARY News, Director General Sindh Rangers Major General Bilal Akbar issued a statement reassuring citizens that they would be protected. “The attackers will be made to pay for their wrong deeds,” he said, adding that no one would be allowed to carry out violent protests.
Over in London, a number of British citizens registered complaints with the Metropolitan Police Department demanding action be taken against MQM Chief Altaf Hussain for incitement of violence, Geo News reported.
MQM leaders express patriotism following Rangers raid
Soon after the paramilitary force initiated the operation against MQM in Karachi, leaders of the party took to micro-blogging website Twitter to re-affirm their love for the country and apparently disassociate themselves from the anti-Pakistan slogans allegedly chanted by Altaf Hussain.
The already suspended MQM leader, Irum Azeem Farooqui, was the first to record dissent against the party. She condemned the people who chanted anti-Pakistan slogans and also announced her resignation from the party.
MQM’s senior leader Abdul Rashid Godil also expressed his love for the country.
Senator Tahir Mashhadi, Faisal Sabzwari, Babar Khan Ghauri and Saman Jafari were also among the MQM leaders who expressed their love for the country through Twitter following Rangers' action against their party.
—With additional input by Muhammad Hussein Khan from Hyderabad.