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Shaheen Sehbai’s defamation charges against Azeem Daultana, PTH and LUBP – by Pakistan Media Watch

Source: Pakistan Media Watch

One would think that after a 42-year career in the field of journalism, Shaheen Sehbai would have grown a slightly thicker skin. Instead, it appears that he’s grown quite a bit of cheek! Apparently the Group Editor of The News had his feeling hurt by an article penned by MNA Azeem Daultana and has responded with a Rs 100 Millions defamation notice. Reading The News report about the defamation notice, one wonders if Shaheen Sehbai is asking to be treated with a different standard than he himself observes.

Shaheen Sehbai’s complaint, filed against two province-based newspapers, claims that,

On May 30, 2010, the Editor-in-Chief of The News International received for publication from the Principal Information Officer of the Press Information Department an article entitled ‘Differentiating between journalism and ‘churnalism’: a case study of Shaheen Sehbai’s (‘Defamatory Article’ authored by Azeem Daultana, PPP Parliamentary Secretary for Information).

Besides making several aspersions on the professional integrity, credentials, character and intentions of Shaheen Sehbai, the article specifically stated that Mr Sehbai ’sought an ambassadorial position from Asif Ali Zardari and the PPP government and when Mr Zardari and the government denied him the coveted position and office of profit, he embarked upon a revenge mission against Mr Zardari.’

The PPP MNA was given an opportunity by Mr Sehbai to retract his baseless allegations through an e-mail dated June 12, 2010, within one week and tender an apology for the defamatory accusations. Instead of withdrawing the defamatory accusations and tendering an apology, the article by Mr Daultana was given wider dissemination and was published in two province-based newspapers, besides some suspicious blogs.

This defamation claim is particularly curious because the complainant, Shaheen Sehbai, is notorious himself for writing “baseless allegations” and “defamatory accusations”.

Just in the past few months Shaheen Sehbai has written numerous columns that include charges and allegations that he even admits have no factual support.

On 28 June, Shaheen Sehbai wrote:

The latest in the Zardari camp is to attack the judges, on the one hand, threatening to withdraw their Executive order and throw them on the street by Rehman Malik’s executive power, while on the other to secretly encourage General Musharraf to seriously come back and put together the remnants of the PML-Q under his wings and then cooperate with the PPP against Raiwind.

Where is Shaheen Sehbai’s evidence for such a claim? Or is this merely “baseless allegation” and “defamatory accusation” as well?

On 10 May Shaheen Sehbai wrote:

Brimming with self-delusional overconfidence, President Zardari and his closest minions are also quietly planning a similar offensive against the Establishment, which includes both the Pakistan Army and the country’s bureaucracy.

Against the GHQ, the presidency has plans to restructure the top hierarchy of the services chiefs and reports have been deliberately leaked from the top that the heads of the army, navy and the air force may be brought under a Chief of Defence Staff or CODS.

Of course this never happened. Isn’t this also “baseless allegation” and “defamatory accusation” as well?

On 23 April, Shaheen Sehbai wrote:

Inside the prison, the first objective for an influential, moneyed person is to develop a network of loyalists who can bypass the jail procedures, the manual, deceive the jailors, provide facilities to make life easy, bribe or negotiate with captors and judges and find conduits to communicate with the outside world. This is what Zardari did in his years of jail. He developed the hard core of his cronies – a jail doctor, a hospital owner, a business caretaker, a protocol provider, a media handler, a few political artists, a number of mafia-type jobbers, some trouble shooters, a couple of well-dressed attack dogs and a bunch of gun-wielders who he calls as his loyal security guards.

Where is Shaheen Sehbai’s evidence for such a claim? Or is this merely “baseless allegation” and “defamatory accusation” as well?

It seems that Shaheen Sehbai has a very long history of writing defamatory accusations about President Zardari. So why is he shocked when someone writes of him,

The extent of the writer’s venomous hatred for the President of Pakistan, Mr. Asif Ali Zardari, is well known to the readers of this newspaper. It can be judged by a recent piece written by Sehbai titled “Why is the President scared of political actors” published in The News of April 23, 2010, in which he sadly used words like “fiendish” and phrases like “attack dogs” to describe the person and the official staff who – whether we like it or not — represent the office of the President of Pakistan.

Shaheen Sehbai may not like what Azeem Daultana has to say, but at least he has provided some evidence in the form of Sehbai’s own words. That is more courtesy that Shaheen Sehbai ever extended to the president, is it not?

In fact, Azeem Daultana’s supposedly “defamatory” article is filled with quotes from Shaheen Sehbai’s own articles followed by corrections. Does Shaheen Sehbai allege that he has defamed himself?

Sadly, Shaheen Sehbai cannot even help but to make some defamatory statements in his own complaint about defamation. For example, why does he write, “…the article by Mr Daultana was given wider dissemination and was published in two province-based newspapers, besides some suspicious blogs.”

Mr Daultana’s article appears to have been published on the popular blogs Pak Tea House, which is editied by Raza Rumi, a regular columnist for The News, as well as Let Us Build Pakistan, which is edited by a group of Co-editors, all of whom are publicly listed on the website. So why these blogs are called “suspicious”? Is this not yet another example of merely “baseless allegation” and “defamatory accusation” as well?

Shaheen Sehabi has been writing column after column of rumour and innuendo against President Zardari and others. His allegations are regularly made without any evidence, and his predictions have repeatedly failed to come true. He hides behind the cloak of ‘professional journalist’ and uses this title as a talisman to ward off any criticism. Even though Shaheen Sehbai has no problem criticising others, when someone dares to criticise him, he makes a defamation claim. Does Shaheen Sehbai believe he should be held to a different standard than his own?

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Abdul Nishapuri

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  • Altaf asks ‘patriotic generals’ to act Monday, August 23, 2010 By Fasahat Mohiuddin http://www.thenews.com.pk/23-08-2010/Top-Story/

    KARACHI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain has demanded of ‘patriotic Pakistan Army generals’ to take action against corrupt politicians, as was done in the past martial laws in the country, saying “MQM will openly support such generals.”

    He expressed these views during a telephonic address from London at an emergent meeting of workers held at Lal Qila Ground on Sunday. He said that in the past, no political leaders were held responsible for corruption, either in the interest of the US or the West by the Army generals who took over power.

    Altaf said that the Army generals ruled Pakistan directly or indirectly through martial laws and for more than half of the age of the country. “If these Army generals can topple political and democratic governments, they should also bring a similar martial law to weed out these corrupt political leaders,” he stressed.

    Altaf demanded that assets assessment of political leaders should be made to find out how they collected so much wealth and property. He also asked the ISI high-ups and patriotic Army generals“now we should decide once and for all that Pakistan will not take dictation from the USA and will not compromise over its solidarity and integrity”.

    Lashing out at the foreign policy of the country, he said it was ineffective when compared with the policy of the neighbouring country. According to him, when the policymakers go abroad, they spend most of their time in shopping. Altaf said these generals were also unable to change the foreign policy.

    Referring to the flood situation, he said flood had caused great devastation but a conspiracy was hatched by feudal lords to divert the direction of floodwaters to save their lands. He demanded that these landlords should be tried for this act of ìcrime against humanityî.
    The MQM chief also appealed to the patriotic Army generals to stop supporting feudal lords and corrupt politicians for the sake of Pakistan. He also lauded the role of the Army in relief efforts and saving human lives.

    He also underlined the need for a revolution similar to the French Revolution in the country and said the MQM would go for the accountability of corrupt politicians to bring back all the wealth of the country to the national exchequer.

    Criticising the role of the United States, Altaf demanded of US President Barack Obama to review his policies and stop supporting feudal lords and extend support to the people of Pakistan.

  • One day before this statement?

    U.S Counselor Brian D. Hunt met Altaf Hussain in London SUNDAY, AUGUST 22, 2010
    http://karachiupdatenews.blogspot.com/2010/08/us-counselor-brian-d-hunt-met-altaf.html

    The floods in Pakistan, bilateral US-Pakistan relations, the role of Local government in the relief efforts and the current political situation in Pakistan were broadly discussed in the meeting US must never forget the bold sacrifices of the gallant nation of Pakistan-Altaf Hussain MQM played a very pivotal and monumental role in the October 2005 earthquake-Brian Hunt

    Former Consulate General of US in Lahore and currently a Political Liaison Officer at the US Embassy in Islamabad. Mr. Brian D Hunt had a comprehensive and detailed meeting with Founder and Leader of MQM Mr. Altaf Hussain at MQM international Secretariat in London. The meeting lasted for more than 3 hours, and the key issues discussed were the floods in Pakistan, bilateral US-Pakistan relations, the War on Terror, the role of the armed forces in the relief efforts for the flood victims, the role of Local government in the relief efforts and the current political situation in Pakistan.

    The profound loss of lives and property was deeply felt by Mr. Brian Hunt. Mr. Altaf Hussain vividly expressed the fact to Mr Brian D Hunt that, the current floods and deluge has left millions of Pakistanis without food and shelter. The situation is getting dire with time and people are taking the risk of drinking the tainted water of the flood owing to lack of resources and aid. Rather these millions of souls, who have suffered heavily owing to the floods and deluge, are still in a very dismal state of affairs on a general basis. Mr Altaf Hussain, further stated that Pakistan’s citizens and armed forces are making pertinent sacrifices in the war on terror, and the west especially the US must never forget the bold sacrifices of the gallant nation of Pakistan.
    Mr Altaf Hussain was of the view that now is the time that the international community, must unite and help Pakistan unconditionally and in a magnanimous manner, in it’s hour of need on fiscal and material basis, so that millions of lives can be saved and rehabilitated. Pakistan is passing through a very adverse situation, and members of the US Congress especially the Senate, must be quick in giving US aid to Pakistan and not link it in any manner with the Kerry-Lugar Bill. To a question of Mr. Hunt, Altaf Hussain responded that if the local body system was intact and functional the quantum of the damage to the people and property could have been reduced. The local body system was a guarantee parse, that the people’s mandate and benefit would be pursued on a prompt basis.

    However Mr. Altaf Hussain was critical of US policy on some regional and geo-political issues, rather he suggested that US policy must be pragmatic with respect to the ground realities. MQM is the only secular, liberal and democratic party in Pakistan that not only represents the poor and middle class of the country. Also it is the only party that has stood against religious extremism since its inception and will continue to do so. MQM is striving for a more tolerant, liberal and democratic society at large. Mr. Hunt assured Altaf Hussain that the US honors and respects the sacrifices made by Pakistan in the war on terror. Mr. Hunt further went on to say, that the US shall never waiver in it’s support for Pakistan and shall continue to help Pakistan especially with these floods.

    Mr. Hunt also stated that the MQM played a very pivotal and monumental role in the October 2005 earthquake, which was also a profound tragedy parse and is still upholding its track record in light of the floods. Members of the MQM central coordination committee were also present in the meeting.

  • Altaf asks ‘patriotic generals’ to act Monday, August 23, 2010 By Fasahat Mohiuddin http://www.thenews.com.pk/23-08-2010/Top-Story/ KARACHI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain has demanded of ‘patriotic Pakistan Army generals’ to take action against corrupt politicians,

    Mr. Altaf Hussain conveniently forget that it was MQM who supported the most corrupt NROed Asif Ali Zardari for the post of the President of Pakistan???

    PPP Wallah are Land Grabbers but why did MQM nominate Zardari for the Office of President! despite of the fact that Zardari was involved in Corruption cases ??? Zardari is a Fedual so why MQM supported him, MQM is a party of Middle Class but support Wadera and if that was not enough support the Waderas of Pir Pagara as well read post number 15 –

    MQM to support Zardari for presidential slot: Altaf Monday, August 25, 2008 By our correspondent Karachi [link is dead read in the old newspapers of Jang and The News]

    The coordination committee of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Rabita Committee will support Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari for the presidential slot, MQM Founder and Chief Altaf Hussain said Sunday. Addressing a general workers’ meeting at the office of the Khidmat-e-Khalq Foundation (KKF), Altaf asked workers whether they approved the decision of the Rabita Committee. The huge gathering endorsed the decision. He also appealed to the Haq Parast people of Punjab to support Zardari and urged Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) President Nawaz Sharif to support Zardari for his presidential election and avoid confrontation.

    Hussain said that the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam – Fazlur Rehman (JUI-F) and the Awami National Party (ANP) had also announced to support Zardari, who was at the moment the most suitable candidate as his wife had given her life for the restoration of democracy. Benazir Bhutto’s father and brother also sacrificed their lives for democracy, Hussain said. He asked Sharif to avoid any kind of crisis as the need of the hour at the moment was to remain united. Hussain said that after he had extended support to Zardari it was being given an ethnic colour and the PML-N had started opposing the idea.

    Referring to sectarian clashes in D.I. Khan and Parachinar, Hussain said that the MQM could play the role of mediator and bring closer various religious scholars for creating harmony among different sects. He paid tribute to the law-enforcement agencies who are trying to control the highly tense situation in D.I. Khan and Parachinar. He lauded the role of the Adviser to the Prime Minister for Interior Rehman Malik for arranging food and shelter for those people who had migrated. Hussain referred to his past speeches and said they were given a wrong impression and said the MQM was neither against the Pakhtoons nor the ANP. The MQM is against Talibanisation, Hussain said. He stressed that the party would never allow Talibanisation in Sindh, including Karachi as Sindh was the land of Sufis and citizens of this province were peace-loving. He said the people of Karachi were against extremism and any kind of terrorism. He asked the Pakhtoons and the ANP to not get provoked as the MQM was not against them.He also appealed to the well-to-do people to donate generously zakat, fitra and other donations in Ramazan to Khidmat-e-Khalq Foundation (KKF) as this organisation was helping the needy. Hussain’s address from London was simultaneously telecast in 19 cities of Pakistan. A KKF board of trustees was also formed and Dr Farooq Sattar was named its Secretary General.

    Nominations filed for president Wednesday, August 27, 2008
    http://www.thenews.com.pk/print3.asp?id=16852

    The MQM leader said the political and economic stability should be major priority of all democratic forces as the country was passing through defining circumstances. “MQM chief Altaf Hussain has also appealed to our old ally Mian Nawaz Sharif to review his decision,” Farooq Sattar said.

    Nominations filed for president August 27, 2008 http://elections.com.pk/newsdetails.php?id=657

    Scrutiny of the nomination papers would be conducted on Thursday August 28 at the election commission secretariat by the returning officer Justice (eetd) Qazi Muhammad Farooq. Talking to the media outside the election commission office, MQM deputy convener Farooq Sattar said his party has supported PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari’s candidature for office of the president unconditionally.

    Farooq Sattar said the MQM has supported Zardari just for the cause of democracy and wanted same backing from its former government ally the PML-Q. “A decision on our participation in the ruling coalition is up to the discretion of the allies,” he added. The MQM leader said the political and economic stability should be major priority of all democratic forces as the country was passing through defining circumstances. “MQM chief Altaf Hussain has also appealed to our old ally Mian Nawaz Sharif to review his decision,” Farooq Sattar said.

  • Altaf asks ‘patriotic generals’ to act Monday, August 23, 2010 By Fasahat Mohiuddin http://www.thenews.com.pk/23-08-2010/Top-Story/He also underlined the need for a revolution similar to the French Revolution in the country and said the MQM would go for the accountability of corrupt politicians to bring back all the wealth of the country to the national exchequer.
    ================================
    What about Supporting the “Waderas”

    Sanghar by-polls: MQM withdraws candidate in support of PML-F Sunday, July 11, 2010 By By our correspondent
    http://www.thenews.com.pk/print1.asp?id=250093

    The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has decided not to field its candidate in the by-elections against the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PLM-F) nominee in Sanghar its policy of reconciliation.
    This was decided by MQM when PML-F leaders led by Imtiaz Ahmed Sheikh called on MQM Coordination Committee at Nine Zero here on Saturday. Sheikh said that the PML-F delegation visited Nine Zero on the advise of the party chief Pir Sahib Pagara. As per the decision, MQM has withdrawn its candidate Ramesh Kumar from Sanghar against PML-F’s candidate Khuda Bux Rajar in NA 235 Sanghar 2. Talking to The News, Sheikh said that this was an attempt towards the continued reconciliation process as per the directives of Pir Pagara. Sheikh also thanked President Asif Ali Zardari who had advised local PPP leaders not to field their candidate against PML-F.

    MQM seeks Pagara’s backing for LG system By Azfar-ul-Ashfaque
    Friday, 12 Mar, 2010 http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/local/mqm-seeks-pagaras-backing-for-lg-system-230

    Meeting with Pir Pagara – Later, a delegation of the MQM called on Pir Pagara at his residence and discussed with him issues related to the local government system and the cooperation that has existed between the two parties for the last many years. After meeting the veteran politician and spiritual leader, MQM leader Babar Ghauri told newsmen outside the Kingri House that the MQM delegation had gone there to meet Pir Pagara on the directive of MQM cheif Altaf Hussain.

    MQM, PML-F agree on ‘saving system’ Friday, March 12, 2010 By Fasahat Mohiuddin Karachi http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=228451

    The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) have resolved to save the present system of local governance (LG), and to ensure that local government polls are held on time. An agreement over the LG system was reached at on Thursday, after two rounds of comprehensive dialogue between leaders of the two parties at Kingri House.

  • Altaf asks ‘patriotic generals’ to act Monday, August 23, 2010 By Fasahat Mohiuddin http://www.thenews.com.pk/23-08-2010/Top-Story/ Criticising the role of the United States, Altaf demanded of US President Barack Obama to review his policies and stop supporting feudal lords and extend support to the people of Pakistan.

    Would he like to explain this meeting?

    U.S Counselor Brian D. Hunt met Altaf Hussain in London SUNDAY, AUGUST 22, 2010
    http://karachiupdatenews.blogspot.com/2010/08/us-counselor-brian-d-hunt-met-altaf.html

    Above all how does one talk of French Revolution while living as British Citizen is UK???

    لندن میں بیٹھ کر کراچی پر حکومت
    الیسٹیئر لاسن
    بی بی سی نیوز، لندن
    وقتِ اشاعت: Thursday, 17 May, 2007, 02:55 GMT 07:55 PST
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/story/2007/05/070517_pak_city_running_london_nj.shtml

    Very easy to lecture while sitting in London!

    Altaf Hussain flays British PM’s statement 2010-07-31 11:54PM http://dunyanews.tv/main_category_eng.php?nid=15149&catid=2&flag=d

    MQM leader Altaf Hussain said that British PM David Cameron’s statement alleging Pakistan of exporting terrorism is lamentable. He said that President Zardari while following the feelings of nation should review his UK visit. In a statement issued from London, he said that Pakistan is being targeted and blamed from all sides. He said that WikiLeaks, Mullen, and now Cameron blamed Pakistan. He said that Pakistani forces and people rendered great sacrifices in war on terror but after such sacrifices, allegations on Pakistan are unfortunate. He urged the British Pm to avoid issuing such hostile statements.

    Altaf Hussain asks president Asif Ali Zardari to review his decision to visit UK http://www.onlinenews.com.pk/details.php?id=166646

    LONDON: MQM Founder and Leader Altaf Hussain expressed his sadness upon British Prime Minister David Cameron’s remarks that Pakistan condones terrorism. He also asked the President Asif Ali Zardari to review his decision to visit Britain that would reflect the sentiments of the whole nation. He said that Pakistan is being blamed from all quarters. A few days ago a US website published numerous facts about Afghanistan War where allegations were made against Pakistan. Later on US Admiral Mike Mullen and other US leader targeted Pakistani agencies and now British P.M. has also blamed Pakistan while on his visit to India, he added.

    He underlined the entire nation is deeply concerned by such allegations. He pointed out that Pakistan is engaged in War against terrorism. In the last few years the country’s armed forces, Para-military forces, ISI and other law enforcement agencies have lost thousands of their young men and thousands of Pakistani citizens have been victims of terror attacks. Despite all those sacrifices, to blame Pakistan of terrorism is not only unfair but also very distressing. He went on to say that Britain and Pakistan has had cordial relations for many years, it would be in the interest of mutual harmony and better understanding for the future that the British PM refrains from making such statements so that there is no irritation between two countries.

  • Altaf asks ‘patriotic generals’ to act Monday, August 23, 2010 By Fasahat Mohiuddin http://www.thenews.com.pk/23-08-2010/Top-Story/ He also underlined the need for a revolution similar to the French Revolution in the country and said the MQM would go for the accountability of corrupt politicians to bring back all the wealth of the country to the national exchequer.
    ==========================

    What about Supporting General Musharraf from 2002 to 2008??? Altaf’s remarks about martial law criticised by most parties By Bhagwandas Monday, 23 Aug, 2010 http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/local/altafs-remarks-about-martial-law-criticised-by-most-parties-380
    ========================

    Running Pakistan’s biggest city – from London
    Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 May 2007, 11:33 GMT 12:33 UK
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/6658231.stm

    The party has been criticized for its strong-arm tactics in the past. Most of those killed since Monday have been ethnic Pashtuns, who have migrated to Karachi in increasing numbers from the north, where the army has opened a series of campaigns against the Pakistani Taliban in recent years. [The New York Times] Assassination Sets Off Wave of Killings in Pakistani City By SALMAN MASOOD Published: August 3, 2010
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/04/world/asia/04karachi.html?_r=2

  • The MQM leader alleged that Pakistani rulers were busy in shopping abroad instead of presenting Pakistan’s case,Monday, 23 Aug 2010 Altaf slams ‘corrupt politicians shopping abroad’http://tribune.com.pk/story/41801/altaf-slams-corrupt-politicians-shopping-abroad/
    =======================
    Reality is as under:

    “QUOTE”

    The Karachi ruling party ‘run like the mafia’ from an office block in London Declan Walsh in Karachi and Matthew Taylor The Guardian, Saturday 2 June 2007
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/jun/02/uk.pakistan

    · MQM accused of planning carnage which left 42 dead
    · Khan calls for leader in UK to face anti-terror charges

    Outside may be Karachi but inside the discreetly guarded room all minds are focused on London. The clock is set to British summer time and a pair of telephones connect to an office 5,000 miles away, from where a controversial Pakistani leader runs his political empire.
    Altaf Hussain leads the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) – a powerful, popular and, critics say, thuggish political force that has a vice-like grip on Karachi. At “Nine Zero”, the party headquarters in a middle-class suburb, his presence looms large. A giant poster hangs over the entrance and reverential acolytes speak of “Altaf bhai”, or brother. But the great leader is missing.

    For the past 16 years Mr Hussain has lived in self-imposed exile in the UK, first as an asylum seeker and now as a British citizen. Based in an office block on Edgware High Street in north London he rules by phone, directing his closest lieutenants in long, late-night conversations. But in Pakistan that arrangement has become a matter of controversy – one about to land at the British government’s door.

    Yesterday the cricketer turned politician Imran Khan arrived in London to try to have Mr Hussain prosecuted under British anti-terror laws. Three weeks ago gunmen opened fire on a rally in support of the chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, triggering a day of bloodshed that left 42 people dead. Mr Khan – as well as lawyers, human rights activists and opposition parties – accuse Mr Hussain of orchestrating the carnage from his sofa in London.

    “The whole thing was planned. No British citizen is allowed to sit in London and direct terrorist operations abroad. So why should Altaf Hussain?” said Mr Khan who described the MQM as “a fascist movement run by criminals”.

    If Pakistan has to arrest al-Qaida operatives then Britain has an obligation to pick up Mr Hussain, added Mr Khan, who plans to bring a petition to Downing Street. “There’s a war on terror going on but here we have Pakistan’s No 1 terrorist being given sanctuary by the British government,” he said.

    The MQM denies the charges, and insists it was the victim and not the perpetrator of May 12. The party says 13 of its own activists were among the dead, and last week it produced a video from May 12 showing apparent supporters of the rival Pakistan People’s party firing their guns in the air. “This is a conspiracy against us. Our decision to hold a rally on May 12 may be open to criticism, but we were not involved in armed attacks,” said Dr Farooq Sattar, head of the party in Pakistan.

    But Mr Hussain has little to say. At the MQM’s “International Secretariat” on Edgware High Street – a red brick office block opposite a supermarket – a party official said the leader was not available for comment. But he was happy to show the Guardian around the offices, which he confirmed was Mr Hussain’s London headquarters, and he vowed to repel any court action by Mr Khan.

    The fight is getting personal. Back in Karachi graffiti slurs against Imran Khan appeared on walls and the MQM-dominated local government has banned him from the city for one month.

    The MQM was founded in 1984 by Mr Hussain, a former Chicago cab driver, and won broad support among the “mohajirs” – Muslims who fled India after partition in 1947. The party prided itself on its well-oiled machine and its secular, liberal outlook. But it was also linked to extortion, gun smuggling and South African crime networks, according to a senior police officer speaking on condition of anonymity. “That’s what happens when a political party is run like the mafia,” he said.

    Local reporters have a rich store of-tales from the 1990s. One said she found a severed hand as a warning in her front garden, another was kidnapped from his home.

    But since it entered a coalition government with President Pervez Musharraf in 2002, the party has projected a different image based on secularism, economic development and support for the “war on terror”. Moderates such as the Karachi mayor, Mustafa Kamal, boast of new roads, sewage systems and billions of pounds in fresh investment. “MQM believes in every sect and religion. We are against extremism. We were the first people on the streets after 9/11,” he said.

    But since May 12 the party’s aspirations of becoming a national force lie in shreds, and there are worrying echoes of past tactics. On Tuesday, three Karachi journalists with foreign news agencies found unmarked envelopes containing a single bullet on their car windscreens. Two of them had earlier been denounced as “anti-mohajir” by the MQM-linked Muhajir Rabita Council.

    Will Mr Hussain ever come home? At Nine Zero, where beefy young men with baseball caps stand guard, there is little sign. “We do not want him to come back to Karachi; it is too dangerous here,” said parliamentarian Faisal Subzwari.

    But there is always hope. A few doors down Mr Hussain’s deserted terraced house is waiting, protected by blastproof metal shutters. For now, though, it has just one occupant – a 24-hour telephone operator.

    “UNQUOTE”

  • Altaf asks ‘patriotic generals’ to act Monday, August 23, 2010 By Fasahat Mohiuddin http://www.thenews.com.pk/23-08-2010/Top-Story/

    What about the “Martyrs” from 1992 to 1999? Just “Fatheha”

    “QUOTE”

    The Karachi king – After a bloody conflict in Karachi, much-feared political boss Altaf Hussain fled to London, but he is no less powerful in Pakistan by Mustafa Qadri
    guardian.co.uk, Monday 6 July 2009 18.00 BST http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jul/06/altaf-hussain-karachi-pakistan-london

    With his healthy plume of gravity-defying hair and chunky tinted glasses, Altaf Hussain is as colourful in appearance as his reputation suggests. Perhaps no other Pakistani politician has as big a list of enemies as the one-time cabbie and university student who transformed himself into one of the most feared political bosses in the country. That he has directed his Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) party from the distant shores of the UK since 1994 speaks volumes for his enduring influence in the treacherous political life of Pakistan.

    Hussain came to prominence as an advocate for the rights of Pakistan’s “muhajir” population – those Urdu-speaking communities that originally travelled to the country from India following partition in 1947. The move to Pakistan was traumatic for the subcontinent’s Urdu-speaking communities. They often faced hostile indigenous populations, especially in Sindh and Punjab where most of them settled, and were discriminated against in universities and employment.

    Hussain’s political career was born out of this marginalisation. Had it not been for the military dictator Zia-ul-Haq, however, it is unlikely that he would have risen to prominence. Zia was a master of divide-and-rule politics and sectarianism and ethnic tensions rose under his dictatorship. In Hussain’s MQM, Zia saw potential for yet another political platform for dividing would-be federalist opponents.

    From inception, the MQM’s powerbase has been Karachi, Pakistan’s simmering, overcrowded economic hub. It is also home to the country’s largest Urdu-speaking population. For decades the MQM has dominated local politics, albeit more often than not in manners and means outside the formal parliamentary process.

    When it ruled Karachi with what critics described as a mafia-like organisation in the late 1980s and early 1990s and the city was engulfed in violence (either endorsed of ignored by the MQM), many of its political opponents mysteriously disappeared only to be later found as corpses, often with the scars of gruesome torture. In 1996 the US state department accused the MQM, along with other political factions, of involvement in torture, summary killings and other abuses. As I noted in an earlier piece for Cif on Karachi, many Karachites have their own personal stories of the period.

    The army eventually stepped into the chaotic milieu in 1992, setting the stage for a bloody conflict that, at its height between 1992 and 1995, saw up to 10 political activists murdered per day. In the same fighting, Hussain’s brothers and several cousins were killed by his opponents. The violence compelled Hussain to flee the country, first to the autocrat-friendly Saudi Arabia and finally to the UK where he still lives.

    Ever since then, Hussain has been too fearful to return to Pakistan.

    Yet he remains ubiquitous in Karachi, not least in the MQM posters liberally scattered in the party’s stronghold districts. The party faithful sing his praises too, and Hussain still sends his daily orders to them from his Mill Hill residence in North London.

    One of those orders has been the controversial effort to prevent ethnic Pashtuns taking refuge in the southern state of Sindh while fleeing from the Taliban war in the North West Frontier Province. Hussain and the MQM, the most vocal and vociferous opponents of the Taliban in Pakistan, have spoken regularly of the “Talibanisation” of Karachi owing to its ever-growing Pashtun population, a largely poor community of economic migrants that do much of the menial work in the large port city. Those claims, sparked by rumours that Taliban have slipped into Sindh by posing as refugees and a spate of high-profile police operations against alleged pro-Taliban syndicates in Karachi, have helped add Pakistan’s Pashtun population to Hussain’s already large list of enemies.

    The animosity has fuelled a bloody running battle in Karachi between MQM and Pashtun activists from the secular Awami National party that has claimed hundreds of lives.

    It is difficult to find people outside his MQM who consider Hussain a positive influence. According to the cricketer turned politician Imran Khan, Hussain’s MQM is “a fascist movement run by criminals”.

    To be fair to Hussain, however, all of Pakistan’s major political parties are beholden to a few powerful individuals or families. And just like those other parties, the MQM has shown a remarkable capacity to make friends of past enemies.

    Despite its support for the former military dictator Pervez Musharraf and his clamp down on dissent, the MQM is now part of the coalition government currently dominated by the Pakistan Peoples party that spent nine long Musharraf years in opposition.

    Historically, the PPP’s first family, the Bhuttos, have been Hussain’s greatest rivals. In recent times the necessities of parliamentary politics have forced both parties to bury the hatchet. Only last week, Pakistan interior adviser and senior PPP stalwart Rehman Malik met Hussain in London to discuss, among other things, the possible addition of MQM parliamentarians to the already bloated federal cabinet.

    There is little doubt that Hussain will be following events closely from the suburbs of London. He is a political survivor who shows no signs of disappearing quietly into history.

    “UNQUOTE”