KARACHI: An anti-terrorism court issued on Wednesday perpetual arrest warrants for Muttahida Qaumi Movement founding chief Altaf Hussain and nine other leaders, in connection with cases pertaining to the incendiary speeches delivered by the party founder.
The ATC-II Judge directed the SHO of Artillery Maidan police station, where the case 117/2016 has been registered on the complaint of the state, to present the accused in court whenever they are arrested. The warrant includes names of MQM founder, MQM-Pakistan convener Dr Farooq Sattar, Amir Khan, Zakir Qureshi, Javed Kazmi, Arif Khan, Akram Rajput, Aslam Khan, Abdul Qadir and Rafi Akbar.
All of these suspects have been charged in absentia under Sections 147, 148, 149, 186, 353, 324, 302, 435, 436, 337, 123A, 124A, 109, 114, 427, 506B, 395 of the Pakistan Penal Code, read with Sections 6 & 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997. According to the prosecution, the suspects allegedly facilitated, organised and praised the contents of a controversial speech by Altaf on August 22 last year outside the Karachi Press Club.
It maintains that the MQM chief used derogatory remarks against the country and called for the abolishment of its sovereignty while shouting ‘death to Pakistan’ slogans. The MQM leader, who is in self-imposed exile, is also said to have incited his workers to attack media houses over his belief that he was not getting the due airtime and space. The Lahore High Court had slapped a ban on him in the media.
The prosecution further said that after listening to his provocative speech, the MQM workers stormed the ARY News office in Saddar and got into a scuffle when the police tried to push them back.
One person was killed and several others were injured while a police mobile and motorcycle were allegedly set on fire by the charged protesters. Soon after these violent incidents, a crackdown was launched by the authorities against the party.
The MQM has since split into two more factions, Pakistan and London, spearheaded by Dr Sattar and Dr Nadeem Nusrat, respectively. Altaf, however, endorses the Nusrat group.