After a tense day of speculations, Muttahida Qaumi Movement workers breathed a sigh of relief as their supreme leader was once again granted a three-month bail in a money-laundering case in London.
London Metropolitan Police extended Altaf Hussain’s bail until an unspecified date in July after questioning him for more than five hours on Tuesday. This is the third bail extension after his arrest in June 2014 which suggests enough evidence has still not been gathered to formally charge him.
“I trust the British judicial system,” the MQM chief commented while coming out of the police station. “I hope that this extension will allow the authorities to conclude their investigation as quickly as possible.”
He was accorded a warm reception amid slogans on his return to the MQM London secretariat, where he addressed party workers and media representatives. He asked his supporters to remain calm during the course of investigation. His return also sparked celebrations at the MQM Karachi headquarters Nine-Zero and a late night gathering was planned at the Jinnah Ground.
Addressing a press conference from the MQM London secretariat, Altaf said such cases were made against him in Pakistan, and cases were being made against him in London as well. “I am ready to face them,” he added.
He reiterated he had full faith in the Scotland Yard and urged the investigators to complete their probe soon, hoping the extension in bail would allow them to do so.
He also spoke about the upcoming NA-246 by-polls in Karachi, saying the way he had made a comeback, the MQM would also bounce back on April 23, and regain its seat.
Talking from London with The Express Tribune, MQM leader Wasay Jalil also said his party believed in the British justice system. “We would definitely coordinate and cooperate with the authorities for its [investigation’s] conclusion.”
While there was no immediate comment from the London police, the MQM, which denies involvement in money-laundering, said on its Twitter account that Altaf had returned to the central London police station for a scheduled interview with detectives, and was released on police bail until July after further questioning.
Earlier, six Scotland Yard officials had arrived at the MQM chief’s residence in northwest London to accompany him to the Southwark police station after his bail expired on Tuesday. MQM leaders Babar Ghauri and Mohammad Anwar among other members of the MQM Rabita Committee and Altaf’s legal team were also present outside the police station.
The MQM supremo, who has been living in exile in the UK since 1992, was arrested on June 3, 2014, almost a year after the London Metropolitan Police launched a money-laundering investigation against him in July 2013. He was released on bail four days later, and granted further bail extensions in July 2014 and on December 3, 2014. The MQM chief has always denied allegations of stashing money illegally.
The London police claim the inquiry was initiated after a considerable amount of cash was discovered at Altaf’s residence and office during raids in connection with the investigation of the murder case of Dr Imran Farooq, a founding member of the MQM who was stabbed to death in London in September 2010. The BBC had reported that 400,000 pounds were found by the counter-terrorism detectives.
The MQM chief’s visit to the police station in London coincided with the appearance of one of the primary suspects in the Imran Farooq’s murder case in a Karachi court. The man was arrested in Azizabad two days ago and was said to have financed the two alleged killers, who are in custody of Pakistani authorities.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 15th, 2015.
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