The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) received financial and logistical support from India, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) claimed in a report on Wednesday.
Citing an ‘authoritative’ Pakistani source, the report by Owen Bennett-Jones claimed that senior MQM officials, in formal recorded interviews, admitted before British authorities that the party has been receiving funds from the Indian government.
Quoting a Pakistani official, it said India had trained hundreds of MQM militants in explosives, weapons and sabotage over the last 10 years in camps in north and north-east India. “Before 2005-2006, the training was given to a small number of mid-ranking members of the MQM,” the official was quoted as saying. More recently greater numbers of more junior party members have been trained, the report added.
British authorities investigating the MQM for alleged money laundering also found a list of weapons in one of the properties owned by the party in the United Kingdom, according to the report. The weapons listed included mortars, grenades and bomb-making equipment, the report revealed.
The list also included prices for weapons, it added.
The claims, according to the BBC report, follow the statement of SSP Rao Anwar of the Sindh police that two arrested MQM militants said they had been trained in India. In a press conference on April 30, SSP Anwar gave details of how the two men went to India via Thailand to be trained by the Indian intelligence agency RAW.
Indian officials called the claims made in the BBC report ‘completely baseless’. In a statement to the BBC, India’s High Commission in London said: “Shortcomings of governance cannot be rationalised by blaming neighbours.”
The UK authorities started investigating the MQM in 2010 when senior party leader Imran Farooq was stabbed to death outside his home in north London. In the course of investigation, they found around £500,000 in MQM’s London offices and in the home of party chief Altaf Hussain, prompting a second investigation into possible money laundering.
BBC allegations baseless: MQM
The MQM rejected the BBC report, saying it was a part of a campaign to smear the party’s image in Pakistan and abroad. “The allegations [made by the BBC] are nothing new. Such accusations have been levelled against us in the past as well,” MQM spokesman Wasay Jalil told The Express Tribune.
In a press statement, the MQM Coordination Committee said it was interesting to note that while the BBC was a British organisation and the allegations it levelled against the party were related to investigations being conducted by the British authorities, the report quoted Pakistani sources instead of UK authorities. It said Owen Bennett-Jones, the author of the story, was a freelance journalist who had done other anti-MQM stories in the past as well.
According to the statement, MQM’s Mohammad Anwar had written to the BBC prior to the publication of the report, saying the party was not prepared to comment on rumours.
Anwar had also urged the BBC to not broadcast ‘defamatory’ allegations which were likely to have a significant adverse impact on the already tense situation in Pakistan.
The committee added that the MQM was a patriotic party which strongly believed in Pakistan’s solidarity.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 25th, 2015.