KARACHI: The dramatic arrest and subsequent release of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) – Pakistan head Farooq Sattar at the hands of the police in the wee hours of Saturday was merely a warning to him by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) over fostering opposition against it, The Express Tribune has learnt through sources.
Arrest warrants for Sattar and other top leadership of the MQM are being issued since December 2015 in cases relating to the speeches of the party’s now disavowed chief, Altaf Hussain, made against the military establishment of the country in criticism of its crackdown against the party.
“Though the police has warrants against him, we are still helpless in executing those warrants due to pressure from the ruling party and segments of the establishment who want him to keep campaigning for reasons better known to them,” commented a senior police official, requesting anonymity.
This is a fact that most of the investigating officers have also admitted in court before the judges hearing the cases. The police officers, bearing ranks of sub-inspectors, inspectors and deputy superintendents, have been seen asking judges to issue directions to their senior officials because they were helpless in the case.
This was not the first time Sattar has been briefly detained. Similar actions have been taken against him in the past. The most infamous among these is the Rangers’ swoop outside the Karachi Press Club on the night of August 22 last year, when paramilitary personnel whisked him and Sindh Assembly opposition leader Khawaja Izharul Hassan away and released them shortly after.
MQM-Pakistan has reacted to the arrests of its leaders and workers, arguing that the authorities appeared biased whenever this happened to party members or leaders. “This is the same country where warrants have also been issued against [Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairperson] Imran Khan and [Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief] Tahirul Qadri but nothing happened [to them],” said the party’s senior leader, Aminul Haq.
“Remember the Model Town incident?” he asked, saying that in the case, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah were also implicated and the court ordered their arrest. “Nothing happened. Instead the accused – despite evidence against them on record and aired by the media – remained at large.”
Terming Saturday’s incident an ‘unethical’ act by the authorities, Haq said it was from the same segment of political and administrative elites who did not want to see the middle-class populace party negotiating with them over the due rights. He, however, did not name any party or people.
The ruling PPP has denied having any link with Saturday’s incident. A statement issued from the Chief Minister House read that the police could not arrest Sattar as he fled. It added that if the MQM leader did not obtain bail from the court, the police will have no option but to take him in.