Islamabad: The founder of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), one of Pakistan’s biggest political parties, was arrested during a raid by Scotland Yard in London last week but was later released on bail. Back in Pakistan, Hamza Shehbaz, the son of former PM Nawaz Sharif’s brother Shehbaz Sharif, was arrested in Lahore by the National Accountability Board in a money laundering case.
Though seemingly unconnected, the two arrests came a day after the arrest of former president Asif Ali Zardari, again by the NAB, in fake bank accounts case. An accountability court in Islamabad granted the NAB, Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog, 11-day physical remand of Zardari.
A statement by London’s Metropolitan Police, without naming MQM’s founder Altaf Hussain, said: “A man has been arrested in connection with an investigation into a number of speeches made by an individual associated with MQM.” While several complaints were registered against Hussain in the UK over his hardhitting speeches against Pakistan’s military establishment and spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the focus of the London Met police was on his speech in August 2016. A police team had visited Islamabad in April this year to gather evidence and interview key persons related to the speech.
On August 22, 2016, Hussain, while addressing MQM workers protesting outside Karachi Press Club against enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings of his party’s workers, had not only raised anti-Pakistan slogans but also called the country “a cancer for the entire world”. “Pakistan is a cancer for the entire world. Pakistan is a headache for the entire world. Pakistan is the epicentre of terrorism for the entire world. Who says long live Pakistan... it’s down with Pakistan,” the MQM founder had said.
Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Pakistan’s interior minister at the time, had sought assistance from British authorities, asking them to take action against Hussain for inciting the people of Pakistan to violence. MQM has dominated politics in Karachi for three decades. Previously known as the Mohajir Qaumi Movement, Hussain’s party had started off as a political group aiming to represent the Urdu-speaking community, descendants of people who migrated from India when Pakistan was created in 1947.
Zardari sister under house arrest
Meanwhile, the National Accountability Bureau placed Faryal Talpur, sister of Zardari, under house arrest in Islamabad in a case related to money laundering. NAB officials declared Talpur’s residence in Islamabad a sub-jail, hours after an arrest warrant was issued in her name. She will be presented before an accountability court to seek her physical remand, NAB officials said.
Asif Ali Zardari, former president of Pakistan, was arrested by NAB from his house last week after the Islamabad HC rejected pre-arrest bails for him and his sister.
Zardari and his sister are accused of hiding financial kickbacks in fictitious bank accounts. The NAB is investigating four cases in which the former president and his sister are prime accused. The cases relate to transactions worth hundreds of millions of rupees, through fake bank accounts, in the private firms owned by the two leaders.