Pakistan asks UK to take legal action against ethnic party leader

01.09.2016

Pakistan has requested that Britain take action against a self-exiled party leader who delivered a speech by phone last week that ignited rioting in Karachi, Pakistan's Interior Ministry said on Wednesday.

Islamabad sent a dossier on Altaf Hussain to U.K. authorities on Tuesday, alleging that he had incited violence and disturbed law and order, the statement said, adding that Hussain has violated both British and international laws.

In a separate statement, it said Foreign Minister Nisar Ali Khan had met with British High Commissioner Thomas Drew. It did not say whether they discussed Hussain. Hussain is a British national and the founder of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, or MQM, which has long dominated politics in the southern city of Karachi.

The secular party represents ethnic Mohajirs - those who fled to Pakistan from India during the 1947 partition. Its supporters have staged violent protests and clashed with political rivals and police in the past.

Hussain delivered an anti-government speech last week via telephone to his supporters, who then chanted "Down with Pakistan" and ransacked three television stations. One person was killed in the ensuing clashes with security forces. Hussain later apologised in a statement, saying he was under mental stress during the speech.

Public prosecutor Mushtaq Jahanghri says Hussain faces charges in two cases: for encouraging his supporters to "wage war against Pakistan" and for inciting them to damage public property. He said 45 MQM leaders and supporters, including three women, appeared in court where a judge ordered them detained pending trial.

Pakistani security forces have arrested dozens of MQM supporters and sealed and demolished many of the party's offices. Portraits of Hussain have been removed from Karachi's streets and MQM offices.

The party leadership in Pakistan has disassociated itself from Hussain, promising that the party won't be run from London anymore. Hussain has lived in self-imposed exile in London for years.    (AP)

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