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An Anti-terrorism Court (ATC) on Monday issued non-bailable warrants for most Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leaders, except for Waseem Akhtar, Faisal Sabzwari and Rauf Siddiqui, in regards to cases lodged in the Malir area of the metropolis last year.

The MQM leaders were not declared 'proclaimed offenders' by the court as the judge has deferred the decision till the next hearing, scheduled for April 6, due to a technical issue with the documentation presented in court.

The procedure for the same was completed but the judge deferred signing the order.

Police had submitted a report on Saturday requesting the court to take action under Sections 87 (proclamation for persons absconding) and 88 (attachment of property of person absconding) of the Criminal Procedure Code after they were unable to execute the warrants issued against Sattar, Altaf Hussain, Amir Khan and 30 others.

Sattar had been taken into police custody on Friday night, and senior police officials had confirmed his 'arrest' in connection with cases pertaining to the incendiary Aug 22 speech of MQM founder Altaf Hussain, which triggered a violent protest, arson attacks and ransacking of media houses.

However, he was 'freed' in less than two hours — reportedly on the intervention of a top provincial authority.

Later, a spokesman for the Sindh chief minister said Sattar had “escaped” when a police team went to arrest him.

The investigating officer, Inspector Hameed Khan, had told the ATC on Saturday that he was "unaware" of the Friday night 'arrest' of Sattar and his subsequent release.

Sattar, too, had taken an ambiguous position on the episode when he addressed a press conference in the early hours of Saturday at his PIB Colony residence. He had said he did not know whether the incident could be called an 'arrest' or not.

Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on the same day said police had communicated to Sattar that he should obtain bail to avoid arrest.

He said the police had not arrested him yet as he was the leader of a major political party, but added that police would have no option but to arrest him if he would not obtain bail.

Farooq Sattar, Altaf Hussain, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Amir Liaquat Hussain and other party leaders have been deemed absconders in two cases lodged at the Artillery Maidan Police Station pertaining to Altaf Hussain's Aug 22 speech outside the Karachi Press Club.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan's leaders were declared proclaimed offenders. Court officials have since clarified that the leadership has not been declared as proclaimed offenders yet due to a technical issue with the documentation. The error is regretted.

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