The chief of Muttahida Qaumi Movement's (MQM) Pakistan faction, Dr Farooq Sattar, "categorically rejected" the accusations of money laundering levelled against the party members by UK-based businessman Sarfaraz Merchant.
"In the current situation, when we are being politically victimised, it is important that we reject any accusation levelled against us," Sattar clarified while addressing a press conference on Wednesday.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has started investigating money laundering charges against the MQM members, Sattar said. He, however, claimed that no one has been nominated in the first information report (FIR) lodged on Merchant's complaint.
Sattar further said that former MQM leader Arshad Vohra, MNA Khawaja Sohail Mansoor and his brother Khawaja Rehan Mansoor, and former senator Ahmed Ali had received letters from the FIA and were facing probe despite not being nominated in the FIR.
He disclosed that a letter addressed to the "president of MQM" was also received, however, he was not sure whether it was meant for the chief of MQM's London faction or Sattar himself.
"I am not aware of any money laundering if it happened before August 22, 2016, but I can guarantee that there has been no such instance after August 22," he insisted, adding that the leaders charged by the FIA have been falsely accused, including Vohra — who recently quit MQM to join Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP).
Right to protest
Sattar criticised the police for refusing to grant permission to MQM for holding a rally on October 5, on the pretext that the date and venue collided with the Grand Democratic Alliance's (GDA) protest.
The MQM had announced to hold a protest against the recent census' results and a proposed delimitation bill, that would allow fresh delimitation of constituencies and was being viewed as an apparent move by the Sindh government and some political parties to settle the controversy over the census data.
"We had informed the authorities 15 days prior to the rally," he said. "Yet they refused to give us permission because GDA is holding a protest on the same date.
"We even offered to change the venue of our protest but they [police] didn't agree to that either. The city police should be competent enough to handle two rallies," Sattar maintained. "Protest is our [democratic] right... this is an injustice to our party."
He also alleged that Karachi police were taking down MQM's banners and flags on the pretext that putting up political banners was not allowed. He termed it discrimination against the party, claiming that police had not taken down flags of Jamaat-i-Islami.
"This is a clear message for the voters of Karachi and Sindh that MQM is being sidelined," said Sattar.
He went on to announce that the party will hold a protest on November 5 at Mazar-i-Quaid or in Liaqatabad, even if the authorities refuse to grant permission.