KARACHI: An antiterrorism court on Tuesday indicted six leaders of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P) in 21 cases pertaining to allegedly facilitating a hate speech of party founder Altaf Hussain, conspiracy against the state and law enforcers, terrorism and other charges.

Several senior leaders, including Dr Farooq Sattar, now Mayor of Karachi Wasim Akhtar, Rauf Siddiqui, Khwaja Izharul Hasan, Qamar Mansoor, Rehan Hashmi, Amir Khan, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Rashid Godil, Gul Faraz Khattak, Salman Mujahid, Abdul Qadir Khanzada, Khushbakht Shujaat, Shahid Pasha, Qamar Mansoor and Kunwar Naveed, with nearly 200 party workers, have been booked in identical cases.

Perpetual arrest warrants for the MQM founder have been issued in some of these cases.

Several senior leaders with 200 party workers are booked in identical cases

Around 26 identical FIRs were registered against them under sections 120-A (definition of criminal conspiracy), 120-B (punishment for criminal conspiracy), 121 (waging or attempting to wage war or abetting waging of war against Pakistan), 122 (collecting arms, etc, with intention of waging war against Pakistan), 123 (concealing with intent to facilitate design to wage war), 123-A (condemnation of the creation of the state, and advocacy of abolition of its sovereignty), 109 (abetment) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), Section 25 of the Telegraph Act read with Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 at different police stations in the city.

On Tuesday, the ATC-I judge was set to frame charges in 21 cases against around 20 MQM leaders, who had been named by the complainants. Six of them — Dr Farooq Sattar, Wasim Akhtar, Rauf Siddiqui, Khwaja Izharul Hasan, Qamar Mansoor and Rehan Hashmi — were present.

The judge read out the charges against them. All of them pleaded not guilty and opted to contest the charges. The court summoned the witnesses on the next date to record their testimonies and fixed the case on Nov 13.

In the meanwhile, the court also confirmed interim pre-arrest bail of Dr Sattar, Rauf Siddiqui, Amir Khan, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Khwaja Izharul Hasan and Mayor Wasim Akhtar, who was on post-arrest bail, in these cases.

In the last hearing, the court had amalgamated 21 identical FIRs on the request of the defence since the same set of allegations was levelled against the party leaders. According to the prosecution, the MQM Rabita Committee leaders had allegedly facilitated and listened to highly provocative speech of the London-based MQM chief against the security establishment and sovereignty of the country, inciting the people to seek support and arms from India and its spy agency Research and Analysis Wing to wage war against the state and others.

The MQM chief had allegedly made such a speech at a function organised by the Rabita Committee at the party’s headquarters, Nine Zero, on July 12, 2015, it added. All the FIRs are said to have been registered three days after the speech.

Indictment deferred

Separately, the ATC-II judge once again deferred indictment of the MQM leaders and workers in two identical cases pertaining to allegedly listening to the provocative speech of the MQM chief on Aug 22, 2016 outside the Karachi Press Club that triggered a violent protest, arson attacks and ransacking of media houses.

On Tuesday the court was set to frame charges. MQM leaders, including Dr Farooq Sattar, Amir Khan, Kunwar Naveed, Qamar Mansoor and Khawaja Izharul Hasan, were present, but co-accused Ashraf Noor, Hasan Alam, Jahangir, Arshad and others were absent.

This visibly irked the judge, who cautioned that he would order arrest of all the suspects to ensure their presence before the court, in case they failed to show up on the next date of hearing.

The judge also ordered arrest of suspect Arshad for appearing late and sent him to jail. The court adjourned both the cases and directed all the suspects to appear on Nov 13, when their indictment is likely.

Published in Dawn, October 24th, 2018

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