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Mystery surrounds Dr Sattar’s ‘arrest’, release

Published Mar 18, 2017 07:07am

KARACHI: Dr Farooq Sattar, the head of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, was briefly taken into custody by the Karachi police on Friday night, and released in the early hours of Saturday morning under mysterious circumstances.

While the Karachi police as well as the MQM confirmed his arrest, a spokesman for the Sindh chief minister late on Friday night claimed that Dr Sattar “escaped” when a police team went for his arrest.

Confirming his arrest, Karachi police chief Mushtaq Mahar earlier told Dawn that Dr Sattar was in “police custody” as he was arrested in cases related to Aug 22 incendiary speeches and subsequent violence.

His arrest, flashed at every TV channel as breaking news, sent shockwaves across the country as people feared a new political crisis. However, there was a sigh of relief, especially among MQM circles, when he was “released” less than two hours after his arrest.

Dr Sattar has been booked in several cases pertaining to facilitating alleged hate speeches of MQM founder Altaf Hussain against military establishment. He was also booked in a case relating to Mr Hussain’s Aug 22 anti-Pakistan tirade and subsequent attack on media houses. He has been declared a proclaimed offender in over a dozen cases by antiterrorism courts.

It is because of certain legal complications that a spokesman for Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah came up with a statement in which he maintained that Dr Sattar was not arrested by the police. The statement said that his non-bailable warrants were issued and the police went to arrest him but he managed to escape. “The police will have no other option but to arrest him if he would not get bail.”

Earlier, the Rangers had taken him into custody on Aug 22 but released him the next morning. Later, he dissociated himself from Mr Hussain and his London secretariat at a press conference and announced taking over the MQM-Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, March 18th, 2017