KARACHI: An antiterrorism court on Tuesday acquitted five leaders of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement in a seven-year-old case pertaining to facilitating an incendiary speech of party founder Altaf Hussain against the then chief of the Sindh Rangers and security institutions.

On Tuesday, the ATC-I judge allowed the acquittal applications filed by MQM leader Dr Farooq Sattar, Shahid Pasha, Saathi Ishaque, Mehfooz Yar Khan and Qamar Mansoor under Section 265-K of the criminal procedure code.

They were charged with facilitating and listening to the June 29, 2016 speech by Mr Hussain against security establishment, including then Rangers director general Bilal Akbar in Azizabad.

Senior leaders of the MQM, which later became the MQM-Pakistan after they parted ways with its London-based founder, have so far been acquitted by ATCs in 24 cases relating to listening and facilitating speeches of Mr Hussain against state institutions.

Two cases pertaining to facilitating and listening to Mr Hussain’s Aug 22, 2016 provocative speech outside the Karachi Press Club and subsequent attack on the office of the ARY News channel are still pending trial before an ATC.

According to the prosecution, Dr Sattar, Mr Mansoor and other members of the MQM coordination committee had organised a telephonic address of their London-based chief Altaf Hussain at their Nine Zero headquarters in Azizabad.

Mr Hussain had delivered a provocative speech against the higher officers of the army, particularly Sindh Rangers DG Bilal Akbar, the business community and state institutions.

The prosecution said that the MQM founder had hurled threats to kill them and also told his party workers to collect extortion from traders and harass the media and general public. He had also told the workers to act upon his directives and stage a protest to defame the state institutions, the prosecution said.

Rangers Sub-inspector Abdul Majeed had lodged an FIR under Sections 109 (abetment), 120-A (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) and 123-A (condemnation of the creation of the State, and advocacy of abolition of its sovereignty) of the Pakistan Penal Code read with Section 7 (punishment for acts of terrorism) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 at the Azizabad police station.

Published in Dawn, August 23th, 2023

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