Pakistan has written a letter to the British government seeking access to information on alleged ties between the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the Indian government.
The foreign affairs ministry dispatched the letter on Friday, two days after the BBC, quoting an unnamed, ‘authoritative Pakistani source’, reported that some MQM leaders had told UK authorities about receiving funds from India. Both the MQM and India have denied the accusations.
The letter, written by the Foreign Office on the directives of the interior ministry, urges London to help Pakistan dig out the truth into the revelations made by the BBC in its June 24 documentary [Pakistan’s MQM received Indian funds].
A senior interior official told The Express Tribune that if London provides solid evidence, as it has enough proof reportedly, to Islamabad then Pakistan can make an official request for the repatriation of MQM’s top leadership sitting in London.
“The latest disclosure about Indian involvement in Pakistan’s [internal] affairs confirms Islamabad’s stance. Hopefully, London will cooperate with us,” he said, quoting a line from the letter. The federal government, based on the British government’s response, would take the decision on which course to adopt on this issue, he added.
“Though it is a tough exercise, before going into it we will have to sign an extradition treaty with the British government. Only then can we formally ask for the repatriation of MQM leaders, based on the charges of sponsoring violence in Karachi,” the official said.
A foreign office statement confirmed that Islamabad was in touch with the British authorities to get more information on the BBC report, as “its contents are of vital significance to the state of Pakistan”.
Another official familiar with the developments said the government’s legal team was working in collaboration with the law and justice, and foreign affairs ministries on many fronts to take up this issue at international forums.
After consultations with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, this issue would be taken up at the upcoming meeting of the UN Security Council by Pakistan’s ambassador Dr Maleeha Lodhi, he added.
Former interior secretary Tasneem Noorani believed the Pakistani side was being “over-optimistic”. “Because”, he said “the UK is unlikely to take any position on a controversy between India and Pakistan.”
He added, however, the outcome of the investigations into Imran Farooq’s murder was more crucial.
Hours after Islamabad sent the letter, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan said the BBC’s exposé on MQM raised further questions whether or not violence across Pakistan was being sponsored from abroad.
“If there was a revelation that an Indian political party had received funds from the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence), would it have been allowed to function for even a day in India?” Khan tweeted. He observed that MQM’s only redemption now lay in suing the BBC over the allegations.
Rebuttal coming up?
The MQM legal team has, meanwhile, prepared a strong rebuttal of the BBC report and is all set to dispatch the letter to the London-based media organisation within a day or two, a party leader told The Express Tribune. The letter seeks an unconditional apology, asking the BBC administration to pay damages or otherwise air a public apology.
She added the BBC article had damaged the image of MQM, which is known to promote peace in Pakistan as compared to other political parties in the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2015.