Haqiqi frenzy: Afaq Ahmed finally speeds away to freedom

Published: December 17, 2011

The Sindh High Court (SHC) had ordered Ahmed’s release on Friday after the chief law officer of the province had failed to defend the grounds of detention. PHOTO: PPI/FILE

KARACHI: Instead of taking the normal route to his court hearings, Afaq Ahmed’s convoy raced out of Central Jail on Saturday to a destination he hasn’t been to in seven years: home.

The Mohajir Qaumi Movement-Haqiqi (MQM-H) chairperson was released after the Sindh High Court struck down his detention orders on Friday.

Even though his release orders came in at 2 pm, supporters only began gathering at the jail around 5 pm; hanging off buses, rickshaws, pick-ups and cars draped in a flag that is only distinguishable from Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s because it has the word “Mohajir” written in bold across it.

No visible arrangements had been made to divert traffic or to create a route for the buses in the MQM-H rally arriving at the jail. Itching to get the celebrations started, party workers stuck in traffic started waving their flags and flashing victory signs. As the sun set behind them, people stopped to watch the dramatic scenes unfold.

When former MQM-H leader Amir Khan was released earlier this year he was scuttled out of the jail’s back gate to avoid the crowds and the media. For Afaq Ahmed, people had set up camp outside both possible exits. MQM-H supporters played songs that paid tributes to the sacrifices of Mohajirs. They danced and embraced each other to the tunes of the unabashedly ethno-centric songs even though many revelling in the fun were Pashto speakers.

MQM-H vice chairperson Zafar Khan Qaimkhani was standing among the crowd. In an unexpectedly stoic manner, he said, “The party has been waiting for seven years and we will now fully resume our political activities. We will bring out our workers from our strongholds and change the face of Karachi by making it a peaceful place again.” People around the jail were surprised to hear which prisoner was about to be released, and many expressed fears for the future state of security in the city. MQM-H supporters believe that if any violence does take place, it would be by other parties trying to frame the MQM-H and prove that Ahmed should be detained.

The party is also concerned for Ahmed’s security.

Irfan, a party worker of six years, said, “Nothing has been done by the government to ensure security for Afaq Ahmed, and it has only been the courts who have delivered justice. It is Afaq himself who is responsible for his freedom now. In the past our rallies used to get better security than this, there were no Rangers present on the route.”

According to Qaimkhani, “The fatwa on Afaq Ahmed’s life was given out a long time ago. There is a serious threat to his life. If you read the Joint Investigation Team reports and the confessions of people like Ajmal Pahari and Kamran Madhuri, they have said they were tasked with murdering Ahmed.” Qaimkhani said they have been in touch with different government departments to ensure Ahmed’s security. Party supporters danced on until after sunset. As more police vehicles started to appear at the gate, the anticipation for Ahmed’s release started to peak. Party workers ordered supporters to clear a path for the convoy.

At 6 pm, with supporters neatly lined up on either side of the exit, the gates flew open and the blue and red lights formed a line inside the jail. The crowd stared into the sea of police lights and roared and chanted, “Kaun karega rehnumai, Afaq bhai, Afaq bhai” (Who will lead us, Afaq, Afaq) as police vehicles started moving. But the 20-odd police convoy sped out of sight before supporters could even figure out which car their leader was in. In a rush to catch up with the convoy, supporters haphazardly jumped onto any vehicle they assumed belonged to the rally, so they could accompany Ahmed to the graveyard in Sherpao Colony where his father is buried. Their next destination was Landhi, where they expected to hear their leader speak as a free man for the first time in seven years.

 

Published in The Express Tribune, December 18th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (19)

  • someone
    Dec 17, 2011 - 6:18PM

    About time they released him

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  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Dec 17, 2011 - 6:45PM

    Finally he is out of jail.

    Now he will breath in the fresh air.

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  • Siddh
    Dec 17, 2011 - 6:46PM

    Eight years without a conviction…. WOW!!!

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  • Syed
    Dec 17, 2011 - 6:51PM

    yeah about time, i guess a month of peace was enough for Karachiites, now get ready to see some serious action (hostility).

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  • Sindhvoice
    Dec 17, 2011 - 7:02PM

    What a pathetic situation it is in this 21 st century, that in a cosmopolitan city of so called middle class and educated people, a party leader is not allowed to exercise his political activities from his counterparts. He fears violent attacks and life threats. Its really a Karachi or some tribal area???
    The so called majority party of Karachi gives sermons to whole nation about democracy, justice , anti tribal/feudal system and terrorism free progressive Pakistan but on records, their actions denies their fiery speeches.
    Let every one enjoy their freedom to do politics as per their programs.No more tribalism and terrorism acceptable in Karachi.Recommend

  • riz
    Dec 17, 2011 - 7:58PM

    finally justice is met only through court; Parliment (supreme body of country) remained unable to safe him from political victimzation since 2004 but Judiciary has been delivering.

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  • Rehan
    Dec 17, 2011 - 8:38PM

    Smiling good even after such hardship. What an immensely strong man. We must also not forget that President Zardari too had to suffer 11 years in prison with torture with NO CONVICTION.
    Regards,
    Rehan

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  • Ali nawaz
    Dec 17, 2011 - 9:16PM

    We must learn to tolerate the political opponent instead of subjecting him to unending trials.

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  • yasir
    Dec 17, 2011 - 9:54PM

    Good news for MQM-H but not for the residents of landhi, their must be a tens environment after arrival of MQM-H chairman,

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  • Sharjeel
    Dec 17, 2011 - 9:58PM

    Eight long yearz in prison but no compromise on principles, and stil standing like a rock. I salute u afaq bhai, and i envy you, why hasnt god given courage and determination like you to me,,, GA AFAQ BHAIRecommend

  • asif ilyas khattak
    Dec 18, 2011 - 1:23AM

    Great leader…..salute you afaq ahmad…love live afaq ahmad

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  • Khadim Husain
    Dec 18, 2011 - 2:21AM

    Finally judiciary worked, that is why we believe on independent judiciary.

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  • ishtiaq
    Dec 18, 2011 - 3:12AM

    Apologies for my ignorance….what is the diffrence between a mohjir and a pakistani? Also, who is this guy?

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  • Navaid
    Dec 18, 2011 - 5:08AM

    This is excellent news for the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, especially for it’s Urdu-speaking Mahajir vote bank. Why?

    Either Afaq will team up with Jamaat-e-Islami, ANP, and other ethnic political jokers in Karachi, which will rejuvenate Mahajir nationalism again in Karachi, in favor of Muttahida.

    Afaq will formally apologize to Altaf Hussain, and flee to Dubai (which is widely expected), and ask his cronies to support Muttahida. Again, another win-win situation for MQM.

    Afaq will formally apologize to Altaf Hussain, and every single Mahajir in Karachi for causing immense bloodshed when he teamed up with the Punjabi dominated army. Altaf Hussain will forgive him, and he will rejoin Muttahida as a worker only, which will consolidate MQM’s vote bank once and for all, and the MQM will once again dominate Urban Sindh like never before.

    Face it folks, no political party in the world knows how to play it’s cards like the MQM does. For over 25 years, I have witnessed the MQM change the entire political spectrum of Pakistan, even with their backs against the wall. Kudos to Altaf Hussain !

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  • Parvez Amin
    Dec 18, 2011 - 7:22AM

    I wish for a follow up article informing us of what the courts have to say about keep a man in jail for eight years and then not convicting him. Should the state not compensate him for the lost years of his life?

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  • Khushal
    Dec 18, 2011 - 9:33AM

    Chairperson???

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  • MyHeartSpeaks
    Dec 18, 2011 - 3:04PM

    Someone (party) is leaving govt. soon with the release of Mr. Afaq Ahmed. My gut feelings.

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  • Hairaan
    Dec 18, 2011 - 3:04PM

    @Navaid:
    Yes you are right. He should go for any of the option you have mentioned. Recommend

  • Hairaan
    Dec 18, 2011 - 3:28PM

    My comment has been moderated violently. ET why are you so scared of the educated people?

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