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Former Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Saleem Shahzad, who joined the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf earlier this year, passed away at a hospital in London on Sunday after a prolonged battle with cancer, DawnNewsTV reported, citing sources close to the family.

He is survived by his wife and five daughters.

Saleem Shahzad entered politics as a member of the Mohajir Student Organisation in 1979 while he was a student at Urdu Science College, Karachi.

He became vice chairman of the Mohajir Qaumi Movement (MQM) when it was formed in 1984. Three years later, he was elected a councillor in the local body polls. Shahzad was also the finance committee chairman of the Karachi Municipal Committee during this time.

He became a member of the National Assembly in 1988 and was re-elected as an MNA in 1990.

Like many other MQM leaders, he left the country when an operation against the political party was launched in 1992.

Since then, remained a part of the MQM Coordination Committee and held office within the party until 2010, after which he was sidelined following differences with MQM leader Altaf Hussain.

Shahzad also wrote a book in 2006 called Shahoor Ka Safar on the creation and growth of MQM from June 11, 1978 to June 19, 1992.

In 2014, the MQM revoked Shahzad's party membership.

Multiple cases have been registered against Shahzad at various police stations in Karachi. The founding member of MQM-London was arrested on February 6, 2017, upon his return to Pakistan. He was released from jail and allowed to go abroad for medical treatment on June 14.

On December 2, 2017, Shahzad had announced that he would soon create a new political party "free of china-cutters and target killers" in the run-up to the next General Election.

In January this year, he announced he was joining the PTI.