KARACHI: With the arrival of Muharram and sectarian violence picking up in Karachi in November, Muttahida Qaumi Movement Chief Altaf Hussain asked people to respect every religion and sect.
“It is the duty of every citizen to protect the sanctity of Muharram,” said the party leader while asking clerics to preach peace and tolerance. The party leader was giving a speech via telephone from London on Wednesday to address clerics gathered in Karachi on the issue of sectarian harmony on the onset of Muharram.
He offered condolences to the families of those who have been killed in the violence in recent days. Declaring that conspiracies for sectarian discord were being hatched rapidly, he called on Shias and Sunnis in neighbourhoods to jointly patrol their areas.
“I have always worked honestly and never differentiated between members of different faiths, creeds or ethnicities,” said Altaf Hussain. He also spoke about allegations levelled against him when he had spoken out in support of different sects of Islam. “When I said don’t kill Shias, it was said that I was taking money from the Iranian Embassy. When I said don’t destroy shrines, it was claimed that I worship graves and statues.” Altaf Hussain announced that there would be a conference of clerics for interfaith harmony after Muharram and the party would look into the raids conducted at seminaries.
In his defence
Not one to use subtlety, Muttahida Qaumi Movement Chief Altaf Hussain in an apparent reference to the Supreme Court judgment in Asghar Khan case, denied allegations that he ever took money from any intelligence agency. The case which dealt with bribes given by members of the military establishment in 1990 revealed a list of politicians who allegedly took the money. “There is an attempt to include my name in this.”
He went on to question why someone who gave a bribe should be investigated by the Federal Investigation Agency but someone who took it should simply return the money with interest, which he declared as being against the Shariat. “This [decision] is equivalent to committing a sin while sitting on the seats of justice.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 15th, 2012.