MQM-H chief set to be released today

Published September 28, 2011

Afaq Ahmed was arrested on April 3, 2004.—File photo

KARACHI: Mohajir Qaumi Movement (MQM-H) chief Afaq Ahmed is set to be released on Wednesday after he was shifted to a prison in Landhi on Tuesday evening.

Ahmed, who was arrested on April 3, 2004, was granted bail in the last of the cases against him by the Sindh High Court on Tuesday.

Strict security measures have been made for his release.

The MQM-H is a breakaway faction of the then Altaf Hussain-led Mohajir Qaumi Movement (now Muttahida Qaumi Movement).  It gained strength when an army operation was launched in Karachi in June 1992. The party was headquartered in Landhi, where till 2003 the Muttahida Qaumi Movement had no presence and it had dubbed it a “no-go-area”.

Things changed in 2003 when the Muttahida joined the government at the centre and in Sindh. A crackdown was launched against the MQM-H, its offices were sealed, its headquarters, known as Bait-ul-Hamza, were demolished and the entire leadership and workers driven underground.

At that time, Ahmed was the chairman of the MQM-H and Aamir Khan its secretary-general.

Arrested in 2004, the two Haqiqi leaders later developed differences while in prison. Mr Khan was released from prison a few months back. He sought an apology from Muttahida Chief Altaf Hussain, was pardoned and allowed to rejoin the party along with his supporters.

Ahmed’s imminent return to Landhi fuelled fears of clashes between his loyalists and Muttahida activists.

But a MQM-H leader said they did not want a clash with any political party, including the Muttahida.

However, there was widespread speculation about Ahmed’s likely detention under the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance.

A meeting between Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad and Home Minister Manzoor Wasan was also held on Tuesday, but it could not be confirmed what was decided in it.

The home minister told Dawn that the matter of Ahmed’s release on bail also came under discussion at the meeting and it was agreed that the rule of law should be upheld.

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