KARACHI: Demanding immediate release of his over 100 workers, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui said on Sunday that Prime Minister Imran Khan had taken notice of the arrest of the workers in Karachi and sought a report from the authorities concerned.
Speaking at a press conference here along with the party’s senior leadership, including Amir Khan, IT and Telecom Minister Aminul Haque, he said that more than 100 workers were arrested only to stop the MQM-P from Independence Day celebrations.
He said that the MQM-P had given up almost everything for the sake of Pakistan but it was unfortunate that conspiracies were still being hatched against it. “We are the only party of Pakistan whose entire leadership and cadre changed their course just for the solidarity and integrity of Pakistan,” he said in a thinly veiled reference to the party decision to ditch founder Altaf Hussain after his Aug 22, 2016 incendiary speech.
He lashed out at the Sindh government for using police to harass his party workers, including women activists, by summoning them at police stations on the pretext of updating lists of political workers.
“Despite all our concerns, we are sending our workers to police stations along with elected representatives,” he said, adding that when asked the authorities did not give a clear reply whether activists of other parties were also summoned like those of the MQM-P.
He said that the MQM-P had been conveyed that those workers who had been picked up would be sent to prison after August 14 on petty charges so that they could secure bail.
Dr Siddiqui said that there was no room for any anti-state element in the MQM-P. “We condemn the letter recently released from London and we believe that we and the people are paying the price of their actions,” he said, demanding that the held workers be released forthwith.
Situationer: MQM-P, PSP on a tight leash
Speaking at the press conference, Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar said that MQM-P workers were arrested and harassed in the name of threat perception on the Independence Day.
He said the Sindh chief minister was also informed about such actions. He asked the authorities to keep him at a police station and release party workers so that they could celebrate Aug 14.
A top-ranking police officer told Dawn that the MQM-P allegations were baseless as police were screening suspects in the wake of recent terrorist attacks and the exercise was being conducted across the board.
A police spokesperson said that the Karachi police were screening particulars at the police station level of those suspects who had been enlarged on bail during the past two years.
A total of 156 accused were being screened and 80 of them had been allowed to go while scrutiny of 76 accused was going on. The police were reviewing the lifestyle and other activities of the accused released on bail, the spokesperson said.
Published in Dawn, August 10th, 2020