KARACHI: Former Mutt­ahida Qaumi Movement leader Hammad Siddiqui, who was arrested in Dubai around two months ago, was handed over to Pakistan by UAE authorities, a private news channel claimed on Friday.

Quoting unnamed sources, Geo News said that the “deportation” of Mr Siddiqui, a key suspect in the 2012 Baldia factory fire in which over 250 labourers were killed, was conducted not through standard operating procedures, but by mutual intelligence coordination between Pakistan and the UAE.

It said that Interpol handed over Mr Siddiqui to a “Pakistani intelligence agency last night” and he was moved to Islamabad. However, Pakistani diplomatic officials in the UAE maintained silence on the development, it added.

Hammad Siddiqui is a key suspect in Baldia factory fire case

Mr Siddiqui was a former in-charge of MQM’s Karachi Tanzeemi Committee. He was expelled from the party in May 2013 by MQM founder Altaf Hussain and after that he immediately left the country.

Pak Sarzameen Party chairman Mustafa Kamal has been defending Mr Siddiqui since he returned to Karachi on March 3, 2016. He and his party leaders openly told media several times that Mr Siddiqui was not involved in the Baldia factory fire.

Only on Thursday, Mr Kamal told media that the Baldia factory fire was not an act of terrorism, but an accident which was caused by alleged negligence of owners of the ill-fated industrial unit.

He questioned as to why the factory owners, Abdul Aziz Bhaila and his two sons, were living in Canada and the United Kingdom and not appearing before the Anti-Terrorism Court conducting the Baldia factory fire trial.

He said that it was known to everyone that the fire erupted because of short-circuit. “Ask the lawyer for the heirs of the victims of the Baldia factory what they say about the incident,” he said.

Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2017

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