KARACHI: Key leaders of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) on Thursday heaped scorn at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for running a vilification campaign against its London-based chief Altaf Hussain and raising questions about their party’s alleged involvement in money laundering.
The party’s leaders lashed out at the BBC Two report on Thursday, calling it propaganda and part of a defamation campaign.
MQM deputy convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui at a press conference said such programmes strengthen the bond between their leader and party workers. He said that they reserve the right to protest peacefully, and would do against such programmes. “We have full confidence in our chief. His statements were taken out of context.”
BBC Two, in its investigative report on the MQM during its programme Newsnight, had raised several questions about allegations of money-laundering, murder of Dr Imran Farooq, incitement of violence through hate speech, and the MQM’s overall image of violence. Host Jeremy Paxman termed the party one of the most feared parties in the country.
Federal lawmaker Ali Raza Abidi while talking to The Express Tribune said the report was biased and ignored the targeting of MQM by the Taliban. “MQM is the only remaining sane voice against terrorism, but sadly the BBC did not highlight that.”
MQM’s Rabita Committee member Wasay Jalil, who is currently in London, said on Twitter that the report was aimed to tarnish the image of their leader, and the propaganda was not new.
Meanwhile, speaking on condition of anonymity, a MQM member stated that the party was considering filing a defamation suit against the BBC.
In the programme, Paxman put up a series of questions including if Britain was providing sanctuary to an organisation which threatens and persecutes others? Will Britain put Altaf Hussain on trial? And why does the government keep doors open for the MQM?
In the report, Owen Bennett Jones, showed Altaf’s house where the Scotland Yard conducted a raid in June and according to the BBC seized hundreds of thousands of pounds. The programme also carried interviews of eyewitnesses and reported on threatening speeches by Altaf Hussain, including the one in which he threatened the UK government against hatching conspiracies against the party.
After the report, Paxman grilled MQM leader Farooq Sattar live, asking him how much money was seized, what it was for and where it come from.
Responding to the scathing criticism, Sattar said that the matter was “under investigation” and should not be made subject of media trial.
“BBC is a very reputable organisation. But after seeing the report, it seems that there has been an influence of pro-Taliban and radical forces,” blurted out a visibly disturbed Sattar.
A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police confirmed to The Express Tribune on Thursday that the incitement probe was under way. “Investigations started in May when we received a series of complaints,” he said; referring to the Pakistan Tehreek-e Insaf (PTI) activists who complained to Scotland Yard against Altaf, when during one of his speeches he threatened them by alluding to the three swords of Clifton.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2013.