KARACHI: In a targeted operation in the wee hours of Wednesday, Rangers carried out a raid at Nine-Zero, the headquarters of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in Karachi, with the party claiming that several leaders had been arrested.
In a statement issued hours after the start of the operation, the MQM’s Raabta Committee said Rangers personnel had forcefully raided and ransacked the MQM’s head office.
Minister for Interior Chaudhary Nisar Ali has termed Rangers targeted raid on nine-zero a ‘positive step’ towards elimination of militants from Karachi.
Justifying the raid, the minister said that paramilitary forces had done ‘nothing wrong or unlawful’.
A five member MQM delegation met Chief Minister Sindh Qaim Ali Shah.
MQM leaders have yet to decide on a future course of action following the Rangers raid on their party headquarters.
Meanwhile, a MQM leader told our correspondent Rabia Ali that the party may announce its plan after the funeral of slain party worker Waqas is held.
In 2013, the then DG Rangers told the Supreme Court: “In the past, with the connivance of the then minister of shipping, a shipload of arms and ammunition was brought into Karachi and the whereabouts of such arms and ammunition has never been ascertained.”
Following this, in September 2013, the Supreme Court SC had observed that the unchecked smuggling of arms through ports left the impression that the crime was done with the connivance of security agencies.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) on Wednesday expressed concerns over Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) move to put the port city of Karachi to a standstill following a raid by the Ranger’s at Nine Zero, the headquarters of MQM, and said all political parties must disassociate from militias and mafias.
PTI Information Secretary Dr Shireen Mazari expressed concern over bringing life in Karachi to a halt, once again by the MQM, said a statement.
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Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Karachi President Ali Zaidi questioned the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in the aftermath of a Rangers raid on MQM headquarters Nine Zero.
While condemning the killing of MQM worker Waqas Ali Shah, Zaidi upheld the allegations levied against the MQM by the Rangers today and endorsed former Sindh Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza’s statements.
Read the full story here.
PHOTO: TOOBA MASOOD
A Muttahida Qaumi Movement worker was shot dead during aerial firing following a raid conducted by the Rangers’ at the party’s headquarters in Karachi Wednesday morning.
Syed Waqas Ali Shah, who was a member of the MQM Central Information Committee, was photographed moments before his death, protesting outside Nine Zero.
Shah was set to get engaged on Saturday, followed by a wedding after six months.
“He died protecting our women. I was with him,” said Shah’s closest friend, Ahsan Khan, who is also a member of the party.
Read a profile on him here.
Former president Asif Ali Zardari spoke with MQM chief Altaf Hussain via telephone. Zardari says the raid was an unfortunate incident, and expressed grief over it, our correspondent Rabia Ali reports.
VIDEO: MQM leader Faisal Sabzwari says weapons present inside party headquarters are all licensed
MQM’s Rabita Committee has summoned a meeting in regard to the incident, our correspondent Rabia Ali reports.
PHOTO: TOOBA MASOOD
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Karachi President Ali Zaidi, in the aftermath of the Rangers’ raid on the MQM Headquarters Nine Zero in Karachi, said the Pakistan Rangers have made very serious allegations on MQM and raised a bunch of questions regarding the incident
He questioned why wanted criminals and target killers were found in Nine Zero, what Faisal Mahmood alias ‘Faisal Motal’ – the convicted killer of Wali Babar – was doing at Nine Zero. He questioned why Aamir Khan was protecting them, and how weapons stolen from Nato containers reached 90.
The questions were also raised earlier by Zulfiqar Mirza.
Zaidi demanded that all target killers should be caught in Karachi, irrespective of their political affiliation, and be tried in military courts.
He also questioned why every other criminal activity points towards the MQM.
MQM chief Altaf Hussain has started his address to party workers and supporters gathered outside Nine-Zero.
Asking his supporters to remain calm in these trying times, Altaf called on human rights activists to raise their voice against this ‘brutality’.
“Rangers personnel arrested whoever they found inside Nine-Zero without any search warrant,” he said, condemning how law was ‘abused’ during the operation.
Altaf claimed MQM is the only party whose offices have been raided in the country. “Am I not a Pakistani or a Muslim,” he questioned, while criticising the behaviour of security personnel who conduct these raids.
“I cannot even repeat the words used against our workers and their families,” he said, claiming that over 60 people were arrested during the latest raid.
He further questioned why there is no operation against any other political party despite Supreme Court verdict which states that every party in the city has a militant wing.
Women at Nine Zero listening to MQM Altaf Hussain. PHOTO: RABIA ALI
Responding to Rangers claim that MQM worker Waqas was not killed by them, MQM lashed out at the paramilitary force for murdering an innocent and then denying it.
“Rangers claim Waqas was shot with a 9mm bullet and not with a weapon used by Rangers officials,” Altaf said. The female supporters objected to this claim, stating they saw with their own eyes how Waqas was fatally shot when Rangers resorted to aerial firing.
Altaf further claimed his sister Saira Begum was verbally abused when Rangers personnel raided her house.
Weapons recovered during raid by paramilitary forces on MQM headquarters, are displayed for the media in Karachi March 11, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS
The party chief alleged that Rangers personnel had brought weapons with them and the ammunition did not belong to MQM. “Rangers, for unknown reasons, have something against our party; we don’t have the strength to fight them and so we can only pray for the lost lives,” he said.
“The establishment cannot stand MQM; we will hand over our party to Rangers,” he added.
Rangers release a photograph of Nooruddin Subhani, a suspect who was arrested during the raid.
MQM leaders have called on PM Nawaz and Army Chief General Raheel Sharif to take notice of the Rangers raid.
Rangers have further released the picture of Ubaid K-2 who was arrested along with other suspects during the raid.
MQM leaders and supporters have been asked to gather outside the party headquarters Nine-Zero where the party chief and senior leaders are expected to addressed the media and announce their course of action in the wake of Rangers raid.
Responding to accusations that ruling party PML-N was behind the raid, party leader Raja Zafarul Haq said PML-N is wrongly accused.
Rangers and police personnel are holding a flag march in Karachi’s Orangi Town to ensure security.
The march included a big contingent of police officers and ten police mobile.
Despite heavy presence of security personnel, shops in the area remained closed.
MQM leader Babar Ghauri, addressing the media in Islamabad, thanked fellow senators for walking out of the upper house in protest against the raid on MQM headquarters in Karachi.
Rangers have released pictures of weapons seized during the raid and of Faisal Mota who is the main accused in Wali Khan Babar murder case.
Picture of Faisal Mota released by Rangers.
Absconder Faisal Mota was sentenced to death in Wali Babar’s murder case in 2014. Then police chief had announced a reward of Rs2 million for anyone who would assist in his arrest. Faisal’s name was also put on the Exit Control List.
MQM announces peaceful protest across the country, while calling for shutter-down strike in Hyderabad, Sukkur and other parts of Sindh.
Certain areas in Karachi have shut down completely with no business activities taking place. Schools across the city are closed, while exams in University of Karachi and Federal Urdu University are canceled. Petrol pumps are also not operating as usual, with very little public transport seen on the roads.
Although MQM members have been arrested before, there has not been an incursion into the party’s heavily defended headquarters since the military raided it in 1992, Reuters reported.
MQM’s opponents say the party engages in extortion and frequently kills opposition activists. The MQM denies the allegations, saying its own party workers are targeted by others.
Unidentified men are reportedly forcing traders to close their shops and halt business activities. A rickshaw was also torched in the Liaquatabad area.
Rangers and police personnel are investigating who is behind these acts.
Additional IG Karachi Ghulam Qadir Thebo said police personnel are on duty to protect the lives and properties of the citizens.
“Attempts to sabotage peace in Karachi will be dealt accordingly,” he said, adding that protection will be provided to all ‘peaceful’ citizens who want to continue with their daily activities including traders and transporters.
He further asked everyone to report to police in case of security threats.
Governor Ishratul Ebad has contacted Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and DG Rangers Major General Bilal to discuss the current law and order situation in Karachi.
MQM leader Khalid Maqbool told Express News that Nine-Zero is not a no-go area but a security zone where MQM leaders work.
He rejected all claims of criminal elements present inside the party headquarters.
“Hurting Karachi’s popular party is doing disservice to Pakistan,” he said.
DG Rangers has issued strict instruction to maintain law and order in the city and arrest miscreants trying to disrupt peace.
He further asked the residents of the city to immediately inform Rangers personnel of any unlawful activity on helpline 1101 so action can be taken swiftly.
Scores of female MQM workers are also present in Azizabad, protesting against the raid.
As demonstrations spread to other parts of the city and Hyderabad, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah has contacted Rangers officials, inquiring about the raid.
He has asked for a report on the raid from IG Sindh and DG Rangers.
Condemning the raid on his sister’s house, MQM leader Altaf Hussain said Rangers will be responsible if something happens to his sister.
The house of MQM chief’s sister Saira Begum was raided as part of the search operation conducted in Azizabad.
The 68-year-old, who is a widow, is MQM chief’s eldest sibling. She was living in a house near Nine-Zero and was allegedly manhandled during the operation.
Unidentified men have closed road leading to National Highway and Malir Model Colony railway track.
The armed men also pelted stones on the vehicles nearby.
Speaking to the media, MQM leader Faisal Sabzwari said weapons present inside the party headquarters are all licensed, however, Rangers spokesperson said he has not seen any official document as yet.
The MQM leader said his party workers, supporters and leaders did not resist the Rangers operation as they believe in rule of law and will remain calm.
“We have kept weapons at Nine-Zero due to the prevailing security situation particularly the threats from Taliban,” Sabzwari added.
Rangers spokesperson said five suspects including one involved in the murder of journalist Wali Khan Babar were arrested during the raid .
The spokesperson said Faisal Mota was wanted by police in the murder case. The other suspects are identified as Farhan Shabbir aka Mullah, Amir, Nadir and Ubaid aka K-2.
Wail Babar, a 28-year-old journalist, was shot dead in the Liaquatabad locality while driving home from office in the limits of the Super Market police station on January 13, 2011. He reported on drugs, crime, militancy and deadly turf struggles between the city’s main political parties.
Rangers official Colonel Tahir, while speaking to the media, said the raid inside and around Nine-Zero was conducted on a tip-off regarding presence of criminals in the area.
Tahir said weapons, earlier stolen from Nato containers, were seized during the raid. “Certain ammunition recovered is banned in Pakistan,” he added.
He said target killers and other offenders were arrested during the operation.
The colonel also said no MNA or MPA was arrested during the search, however, he said MQM leader Amir Khan was held for questioning and will be allowed to leave once the interrogation is over. “Amir will be questioned why were criminals present inside Nine-Zero,” he explained.
Tahir asked transporters and traders to continue with their activities.
MQM chief Altaf Hussain called for calm and condemned the raid.
An MQM leader alleged that Rangers personnel planted the weapons inside Nine-Zero during the raid.
All Private Schools Association has announced closure of schools due to the uncertain security situation in the city.
Examinations scheduled for today at University of Karachi and Federal Urdu University have also been postponed.
No one is allowed to go near Nine-Zero despite more MQM workers joining protesters outside the party headquarters.
Demonstrators have called for registration of an FIR against Rangers for killing and injuring MQM supporters during the raid.
MQM leaders Wasey Jalil and Faisal Sabzwari have also joined party supporters in protest against Rangers personnel.
Emergency has been declared at all government-run hospitals.
Sophisticated foreign weapons were recovered from Nine-Zero during the raid.
Rangers personnel have sealed Khursheed Memorial Hall in Azizabad.
Watch a video of Rangers conducting the raid:
MQM leader Haider Abbas Rizvi, while speaking to Express News, condemned the raid at a time when the country needs unity to fight war against terrorism.
Rizvi, on behalf of MQM chief Altaf Hussain, asked party supporters to not take law in their hand and stay calm.
Party workers are still present outside Nine-Zero, chanting slogans against Rangers’ raid during which at least 35 MQM members and supporters were arrested.
The arrested men include MQM leader Amir Khan, Abdul Haseeb and Rehan Khan.
With MQM supporters gathered outside Nine-Zero, Rangers personnel resorted to aerial firing to disperse the people.
MQM worker Waqas, who worked at party’s information department, was killed because of the shooting.
Several party workers including women and cameraman of Express News Waseem were also injured in the incident.
Karachi comes to a standstill after Nine-Zero raid, with schools cancelling classes in the wake of city’s security situation.
MQM leaders claimed Rangers conducted a “siege and search operation” at Nine-Zero, and arrested several leaders of the political party.
The party said that several members had been arrested, including central leaders Amir Khan, Abdul Haseeb, Dr Saleem Danish, Arshad Hussain, Dr Ayub Sheikh, and Sindh Assembly lawmaker Rehan Zafar.
Further, the party announced that it would observe a “day of peaceful protest” on Wednesday, while urging transporters and traders to keep their businesses and commercial activities suspended.
The Raabta Committee also urged Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to take immediate notice of the incident.