An anti-terrorism court in Gilgit-Baltistan on Monday sentenced Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain to 81 years in prison for his ‘derogatory remarks’ against the country’s security forces.
Pronouncing the judgment, ATC Judge Raja Shahbaz Khan also slapped a fine of Rs2.4 million on the MQM chief, and directed the Sindh police chief to present Altaf before the court. The court ordered the confiscation of any property the MQM chief has in Pakistan.
Monday’s ATC ruling comes nearly two and a half months after the trial court had issued non-bailable arrest warrants for the MQM chief who has been living in self-exile in London.
Over 60 cases had been registered against Altaf across the country on charges ranging from terrorism to criminal intimidation over his July 12 speech, in which he had used derogatory language against the armed forces and the paramilitary Rangers. However, the Gilgit trial court is the first to issue a verdict.
MQM in G-B
Cases of hate-speech against Altaf had cost the party dearly in the region.
After the MQM leader’s controversial speeches, the party’s joint in-charge in the region, Zubair Asadi, and his team distanced themselves from the party. However, the MQM had already lost its G-B chapter leader Raja Azam before the controversial speeches.
Azam, who had served as a minister in the previous G-B government, had jumped ship to join the PML-N before the June 8 elections in the region.
MQM to consult legal experts
Reacting to the G-B court’s sentence, the MQM said it would consult its legal experts before announcing the next move. “MQM’s legal experts are in consultations over the decision,” said party spokesperson Wasay Jalil. Later, the MQM Rabita Committee in a press statement said the party was reviewing all legal aspects of the judgment.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 13th, 2015.