The government will be wiped out if it considers sending the Inter Services Intelligence director general to a US court to answer questions, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain warned in a strong-worded speech on Saturday.
Hussain was referring to a controversy that has been stirred in the country after a US court in New York summoned the ISI chief to answer charges in a case related to the Mumbai attacks. The case has been filed on behalf of US citizens of Israeli-origin Rabbi Gabriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka.
Director-General ISI Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, his predecessor Nadeem Taj, Major Ali and Major Iqbal are among the summoned military officials. Jamat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed and Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi are also on the list of people asked to appear before the US court.
Addressing a large gathering at the Malakhra stadium in Bhit Shah on Saturday over telephone, Hussain condemned the summoning of the ISI chief in the strongest possible words. “Today, this gathering rejects the ISI chief’s summons and says if he is handed over to the US, the government will be wiped out from the country.”
He said that if the US court was going to summon the heads of “our institutions”, then he (Altaf Hussain), too, would request “our apex court to summon the American Central Intelligence Agency’s chief and heads of other US intelligence organisations.
He also demanded that the US immediately release Dr Aafia Siddiqi and send her back to Pakistan.
He said that some people were warning the MQM that, if it parted ways with the government, there would be ethnic clashes and chaos in Sindh. However, he rejected these assertions and expressed confidence that the people of Sindh would forge unity and thwart all such conspiracies.
He warned elements who were “always conspiring to create rifts between the people of Sindh”, and said that the Bhit Shah public meeting had proved to be the last nail in their coffin.
He claimed that the MQM was the only political party that was working for protecting the interests of the people of Sindh. “Was it the MQM that vehemently opposed Kala Bagh dam or the political party that considers itself the true representative of Sindh? Was it the MQM that refused to sign the National Finance Commission unless the rights of the people of Sindh were guaranteed?” he asked, rhetorically.
Hussain said that the IMF and World Bank wanted to impose new taxes on the poor people of the country, but every such move would be resisted by the party.
He also spoke against injustices and oppression in the province. He said those involved in Karo Kari and killing of helpless women in the name of honour should be hanged publicly.
The public meeting was also addressed by Deputy Convener MQM Dr Farooq Sattar, Member Coordination Committee Ashfaq Mangi, provincial minister Nisar Panhwar and MPA Heer Soho.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 26th, 2010.