The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has been receiving funds from the Indian government since 1994 with only four top leaders kept in the loop, according to a ‘leaked’ document – purportedly the testimony of MQM leader Tariq Mir to the UK police.
The alleged statement lends credence to the BBC report published on June 24 about two MQM leaders telling the British authorities about the MQM-RAW nexus. One of the statements, by Mir, containing startling disclosures about the relationship between the top party leadership and the Indians surfaced in the local media on Saturday.
While his association with the MQM in recent months is uncertain, Mir is under investigation for his role in the ongoing money laundering case against the party and is on bail till July. Reportedly, London-based Mir approached the London Metropolitan Police voluntarily. His statement was recorded on May 30, 2012, at the Edgware police station.
According to the leaked six-page testimony, MQM chief Altaf Hussain had been receiving funds from India through different sources. The MQM had once asked India for $1.5 million, but Mir did not know how much of it was received by the party as “it all went to Altaf”.
Read: Indian funding report: MQM leader's statement to London police leaked
Initially, the money was given in dollars but due to difficulty in converting the currency, India later started paying in pounds. The funds were used to support the MQM’s International Secretariat in London and manage its finances.
Apparently, only Altaf, Mir, Mohammad Anwar and the slain MQM leader Imran Farooq knew about the funding from India. “We did not want this to come out. It was a secret,” admits Mir in the statement.
“Initially, about 800,000 pounds per year was coming in cash by couriers. But, due to the 10,000 pounds cash limit [on importing currency], on some occasions we got businessmen to receive the money and use it to pay for MQM expenses. This happened in about 1% of cases,” the statement, with many lines censored, quotes Mir as saying. “The Indian government funded us because they thought it was good to support us.”
Mir said the MQM sought money from “all over” but the Indians approached the party, asking questions about people without passports. They started getting the money in 1994 and some of their frozen accounts were released. In 1995/96, Mir took over the finances from Nadeem Nusrat, another trusted lieutenant of the MQM chief.
The money-laundering suspect also told the police about the meetings held between MQM leaders and some officials of India’s prime intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). At least one of the meetings was said to be attended by the MQM chief.
Read: Karachi unrest: MQM received funds, training from India, BBC
Several meetings took place in Vienna, Rome, Prague, and Zurich. The Indians were interested in knowing about the politics of the country, regional politics including Afghanistan and about Karachi. While the Indian [agents] never used their names, one of them had access to the Indian prime minister. “I had no idea what we could give them in return. When I met with the Indians, I did not hear us say anything specific we could do for them.”
Regarding the training of MQM workers in India, Mir said some expenses might have gone towards weapons training. “We sent people to India to have weapons training for self-defence.”
He also admitted the MQM had been involved in tit-for-tat killings and violence. The last part of the document states: “The killing teams are set up and controlled by London.”
Who is Tariq Mir?
A chartered accountant, Mir joined the MQM in 1989 and became a member of the International Secretariat in the mid-1990s. He was appointed a member of the Rabita Committee in 1999.
He has served as the president of the party’s UK-based, Sun Charity, and remains the chief trustee of the Karachi-based Khidmat-e-Khalq Foundation. He has also served as the chancellor of Nazeer Hussain University.
Terming the leaked statement a part of the “ongoing media trial” against the party, the MQM said its legal team was in contact with the relevant British authorities over the issue.
MQM spokesperson Wasay Jalil said the party was consulting its legal team.
Another MQM leader questioned why Mir would go voluntarily to the police to say all this, and then continue to be a part of the party.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 28th, 2015.
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