Saturday, June 7, 2014

What Will Happen in Karachi If MQM Chief Altaf Hussain is Convicted?

#‎MQM‬ Chief Altaf Hussain has been arrested then released on bail by British Police in connection with money-laundering investigation.

MQM's stronghold city of ‪#‎Karachi‬ was effectively shut down immediately after the arrest.

What is next? Will Altaf Husain be tried and convicted on money-laundering charges?

Will there be additional charges brought against Mr. Hussain?

What will happen to MQM if Mr. Hussain is convicted and sentenced to a long prison term? 

Will MQM split up again and its factions engage in long internecine conflict?

Will its armed members and sector commanders in its militant wing in Karachi take orders from any one other than Mr. Hussain?

Will violence further escalate in Karachi?

ViewPoint from Overseas host Misbah Azam discusses these questions with Pakistani author and journalist Zahid Hussain, Ali H Cemendtaur and Riaz Haq (

Altaf Hussain's London Case Fall-Out in Karachi Pakistan from WBT TV on Vimeo.

Related Links: 

Haq's Musings

Gangs of Karachi

Changing Demographics Worry MQM

Gangster Politicians in Karachi 

Karachi; The Urban Frontier


Ali said...

Riaz sahab kehte hain ke burden of proof altaf hussain per he that he should prove where the money came from, you are absolutely wrong, in UK laws, the burden of proof in money laundering case is on prosecution not the accused

if the burden of proof was on the accused, according to you, he should have been charged by now because of the bullshit of extortion you mentioned which itself has no grounds, i you bloody lived in karachi you would know who does extortion in Karachi, but it didn't happen

Riaz Haq said...

Ali: "Riaz sahab kehte hain ke burden of proof altaf hussain per he that he should prove where the money came from, you are absolutely wrong, in UK laws, the burden of proof in money laundering case is on prosecution not the accused"

In the anti-terror legislation enacted since 911, the burden of proof in US, UK and several countries is reversed in money-laundering cases...the accused has to prove that the money was acquired by legitimate means.

Mehwish said...

Brother, do you have any link to prove your claim? What I have read up till now, then it is still upon the prosecution to bring the proof. I hope the following makes it clear beyond any doubts.

Riaz Haq said...

Mehwish: "Brother, do you have any link to prove your claim? What I have read up till now, then it is still upon the prosecution to bring the proof. I hope the following makes it clear beyond any doubts."

Here's the section of the British money laundering statute putting the burden on the accused:

Section 338 authorises a person to make a disclosure regarding suspicion of money laundering as a defence to the principal money laundering offences.

To constitute an authorised disclosure sufficient to amount to a defence, disclosure should be made before a prohibited act takes place.

If disclosure is made during the prohibited act, the person must have had no relevant knowledge or suspicion when the act was started; the disclosure must be made as soon as practicable after relevant knowledge or suspicion was acquired, and the disclosure must be made on the person's own initiative (that is, not for example prompted by the realisation of imminent discovery or the encouragement of another). The burden of proof will be on the accused to satisfy the court that these conditions are met, otherwise the disclosure is not an authorised disclosure and no defence is available.

Anonymous said...

UK asset forfeiture law now stems from the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (hereafter POCA). S6 of the Act sets out the circumstances where a confiscation order will be made, and the process is mandatory where the Crown requests it.

The principle of recovery of the proceeds of crime is given strong backing through the way the Court must calculate criminal benefit and the amount in which any order should be made.

POCA requires the Court to determine whether the defendant has a criminal lifestyle4 and if so whether he has benefited from his general criminal conduct prior to determining the level of benefit from his particular criminal conduct (i.e. his substantive criminal offences). The criminal lifestyle provisions5 represent the greatest change from the previous legislative regime. Criminal lifestyle confiscation proceedings require the Court to make the assumptions that any property transferred to the defendant during the relevant period (6 years prior to commencement of proceedings), any property obtained by the defendant within the relevant period, and any expenditure by the defendant within the relevant period shall be held to be criminal benefit unless the defendant can show the assumption is incorrect or that there would be a serious risk of injustice if the assumption were made.

It is clear that the "criminal lifestyle" provisions are the main reason as to why confiscation proceedings are often referred to as having draconian outcomes, as the assumptions can result in vast figures added to the defendant's particular criminal benefit (i.e. what he has obtained through his substantive offending).

The value of the benefit to a defendant is defined as the value of property (or pecuniary advantage) obtained through or in connection with criminal conduct.

Of note are the recent House of Lords decisions in the cases of R v May6 (and the linked cases of Green7 and Jennings8), where it was confirmed that the value of the benefit is the total value, not the net profit to a defendant9, and that "obtained" means by the relevant defendant10. Perhaps most important in consideration of the question posed by this essay, where two or more defendants obtain property jointly, each is to be regarded as obtaining the whole of it11. In a conspiracy, the Court should consider the facts when deciding whether a defendant has "obtained" and therefore benefited12.

This can result in confiscation orders, particularly in the case of multiple defendants, where benefit figures from the particular criminal conduct alone dwarf the actual criminal property involved.

When applying the assumptions POCA requires the Court to make, the burden of proof is reversed. The defendant himself must account for his benefit and his available assets. In the case of Walbrook and Glasgow13, the dicta was established that a defendant must provide "clear and cogent evidence" to disprove assumptions in confiscation cases, and that where their evidence stood alone, unsupported but for their own word, it was to be accorded minimal credibility.

In practice, and speaking purely anecdotally, it could be said that where they deal with the evidence of a defendant in confiscation proceedings, Judges in practice give little weight to it. An obvious response to this would be to say that their evidence is naturally going to be given less weight as they, of course, are convicted criminals. A defendant in confiscation proceedings can face consequences far in excess of the punishment for the original offence, not least the default sentence. It is arguable his evidence should be given greater weight, particularly when consider the question of his assets.

After considering benefit, the Court considers the available amount. The defendant must satisfy the court of his current assets14.

Riaz Haq said...

According to the JIT report, the MQM worker revealed that a “well-known party high official” had demanded Rs200 million as Bhatta (extortion money) though his frontman from Ali Enterprises, the owners of the ill-fated factory, in Aug 2012.

The suspect told the investigators that after the extortion demand one of the factory owners had met the sector in-charge of Baldia Town, Asghar Baig, and informed him about it. He said the sector in-charge and his brother, Majid, had taken the factory owner to MQM’s headquarters Nine-Zero and brought the matter to the knowledge of in-charge of KTC (Karachi Tanzeemi Committee) Hammad Siddiqui and Farooq Saleem.

He said Asghar Baig told the KTC men that the factory owners were party supporters and still they were being asked to pay extortion money. The JIT report quoted the suspect as saying that the sector in-charge and his brother had also exchanged harsh words with Hammad Siddiqui and Farooq Saleem.

Later, the MQM worker said, Hammad Siddiqui had suspended the sector in-charge of Baldia Town, replacing him with the joint sector in-charge, Rehman Bhola. The suspect said the KTC men had ordered Bhola to collect Rs200m as protection money from the factory owners. When the factory owners refused to pay the money, Bhola and his accomplices set the factory on fire by throwing chemical substances, according to the suspect.

He said the CID had raided the house of the suspended sector in-charge and arrested his brother Majid who was later released after the MQM pressurised the factory owners to issue a statement that he was not involved in the incident.

According to the suspect, a former MQM minister got a pre-arrest bail of the factory owners cancelled and a frontman of a party high official took Rs150m from the factory owners for disposal of the case.

The suspect claimed that he had obtained all this information from the former sector in-charge of Baldia Town.

Giving a brief history of the suspect, the JIT report said Rizwan Qureshi was born in 1968. He worked as a mechanic in NLC from 1984 to 1988 and as supervisor in a private company till 1991. He had been jobless from 1991 to 1998 and was then appointed in KMC as sanitary sub-inspector.

The JIT report also contains several other disclosures about the involvement of MQM workers in several criminal cases as well rigging in the 2013 general elections.

A two-judge SHC bench headed by Chief Justice Maqbool Baqar took the JIT report on record and put off the hearing to be later fixed by the court office.

The petitioner’s counsel pointed out that a plea had been made for the replacement of the present investigation officer (IO) and conclusion of the trial in the factory fire case as early as possible.

In its order, the court said: “As regards the change of the IO, we have already appointed Mr Sultan Khawaja [deputy inspector general of police] to supervise the proceedings on behalf of police and would dispose of the present application by directing the trial court to proceed in the matter expeditiously so that the trial may conclude within one year from today.”

Riaz Haq said...

Wall Street Journal on Saulat Mirza's video confession:
KARACHI, Pakistan — The hot topic on Pakistani social media today isn’t just cricket: It’s one of the country’s most famous death row inmates.
Saulat Ali Khan, known as Saulat Mirza, is a former activist for the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, the country’s fourth-largest political party. He was sentenced to death by a court in 1999 for assassinating a top government bureaucrat, his driver and bodyguard in 1997 in Karachi, but hours before the sentence was to be carried out, he won a Bollywood gangster-movie-style reprieve: Hours after prison officials confirmed he was to be hanged in a prison in remote Balochistan province, he was given a temporary stay of execution by the President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain.
Late Wednesday, #saulatmirza was already trending on Twitter in Pakistan, despite the ongoing Cricket World Cup. The reason?
The release of a videotaped confession, in which Mr. Khan said that murders had been carried out on the order of MQM’s London-based founder, Altaf Hussain, and other senior party leaders.
In the aftermath of the release of this allegation, Mr. Hussain issued a strong denial, saying he had never met Mr. Mirza and that the convicted murderer had been removed from the party in 1994.
But the Mr. Khan’s revelations remained the focus of television talk shows until late Wednesday night.
Local police officials said Mr. Khan had also been charged in 20 separate murder cases, including the killing of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency agent in Karachi in 1995. They added that he is suspected to have been involved in at least 58 political murders, with the victims being principally police and security officials.
Officials, speaking privately, said Mr. Khan’s sentence in the murder of Shahid Hamid, then-managing director of Karachi’s then state-owned electricity company – now the privately held K Electric – had stood because Mr. Hamid’s widow, also a senior government official, and his son Omar Shahid, a police officer and author of the internationally acclaimed thriller ‘The Prisoner’ refused to succumb to pressure from MQM party for a lighter sentence.
Nevertheless, officials said, the death penalty was not carried out for 11 years, even after the Supreme Court had denied an appeal against Mr. Khan’s conviction in 2004. It was only the recent lifting of the moratorium on hangings by the government after the Peshawar massacre of school children by the Taliban in December, that Mr. Mirza’s name appeared on the top of the list of those to be executed.

Riaz Haq said...

From NY Times:

The news media, which previously treated the party (MQM) with caution, has aired criticism of the party. (Among those arrested was a Muttahida supporter charged with the murder of Wali Khan Babar, a prominent television journalist who was shot dead in his car in 2011.) And in the city’s political back rooms, senior Muttahida officials have begun to quietly consider the possibility of a new leader — an unthinkable idea until recently.

Continue reading the main story
“The fear factor is gone,” said a senior party official who, like several others, spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retribution.

But the upheaval has also brought worries of new instability in a city that is awash with armed groups. Noting that Karachi is in a “state of flux,” the newspaper Dawn warned in an editorial this month that “when the chips fall, they may not do so without considerable violence.”

The moves against Muttahida are part of a broader effort to stem a cycle of political and criminal violence that has left Karachi prone to Taliban infiltration in recent years. Militants disrupted election campaigning in 2013, leading to a crackdown that has broken several Taliban cells, according to police officials and ethnic Pashtun community leaders.

Now the authorities have turned their attention to the armed wings of the city’s political parties, of which Muttahida is by far the largest.

But few are writing off Mr. Hussain, a wily political player with a long record of survival, just yet.

For much of the 1990s, Mr. Hussain’s supporters waged a street war against the security forces in Karachi, only to ultimately re-emerge stronger than ever.

Since then, he has enjoyed unquestioned support from the city’s Mohajir population — mostly Urdu-speaking families that migrated from India in 1947 — by playing on their sense of grievance at the hands of local ethnic groups, creating a magnetic cult of personality in the process.

This time, however, the challenges also come from within. Mr. Hussain’s stewardship of the party has become increasingly erratic recently, several officials said.

In addresses to party rallies in Karachi, delivered over the phone from London (his usual mode of communication with the party faithful), he frequently appears to be under the influence of alcohol, they said.

During one lengthy tirade on March 30, Mr. Hussain publicly resigned his leadership and urged his followers to take up charity work, only to reappoint himself hours later.

“We never know if it’s going to be happy hour or sad hour,” said one senior official who privately advocated a change in leadership and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

To many, it seems clear that the Pakistani military, which has a long history of meddling in politics, is trying to engineer a change in leadership. Journalists say the videotaped accusations from Mr. Mirza, the death-row convict, bore the hallmarks of a military intelligence operation.

In political circles, the army has started to take informal soundings about a possible successor to Mr. Hussain, the same party official said.

“They want to keep the M.Q.M., but without Altaf or anyone directly associated with violence,” he said.

But experts warn that such a strategy is fraught with danger. “If the M.Q.M. implodes, what will happen to Karachi?” said Laurent Gayer, author of “Ordered Disorder and the Struggle for the City,” a recent book on Karachi. “It seems that few people are thinking about the consequences of a militarized, fragmented party.”


Mr. Hussain looked unsteady as he pushed through reporters at the entrance to the London police station on Tuesday. He has said a large sum of money found at his house — about $650,000, party officials say — came from legitimate political donations.

Riaz Haq said...

On a muggy evening this July, I was in a car with two colleagues on my way to a wealthy suburb of Karachi, where we were shooting a soap opera. As we drove down a heavily trafficked bridge, our car screeched to a halt—a dozen men in their early twenties had surrounded us. When our driver got out and gestured with his hand, as if to ask, "Why are you stopping us?" one of the men hurled a large rock toward the windshield. It shattered. The driver jumped back inside and locked the doors. As I dove to the floor, another rock slammed against the glass.
The incident took place during the month of Ramadan, an hour after the end of the daily fast. The police officers that normally trawl high-security zones, such as the bridge, had left to pray. It was the perfect time for disaffected youth to launch a protest. To our shock and relief, the mob soon turned its attention to the burning of spare car tires, which they had brought along, chanting anti-government slogans. But what if they had decided instead to torch our car and those lined up behind us on the bridge?

As Laurent Gayer shows in his vivid book, "Karachi: Ordered Disorder and the Struggle for the City," this sort of violence is an everyday reality for the city's 20 million citizens. In this, Mr. Gayer argues, Karachi is a "microcosm" of Pakistan, and the fault lines that run through the city—criminality, sectarian turf wars and political violence—run through the country itself.
Once described to American soldiers posted there during World War II as the "Paris of the East," the fate of the buzzing port city shifted beginning in the early 1970s. In a two year period, from 1971 to 1973, an Islamic constitution was adopted and Bangladesh was born amidst much bloodshed. Unlike Punjab, over which a well-known center-right party had begun strengthening its hold, Karachi's territory was as yet unclaimed, and so Pakistan's most cosmopolitan city became a site for violent political clashes.

Yet before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, access to and demand for firearms in Pakistan was limited. To be sure, there were brawls between rightist and leftist groups competing for dominance at Karachi's universities, where local politics coalesced in the decades following partition in 1947. But it was only when Pakistan entered the Afghan fight against the Soviets with the support of the U.S. that the black market was flooded with guns. Kalashnikovs replaced sticks and stones in campus fights. In the northwestern Frontier Province, writes Mr. Gayer, the price of an AK-47 fell from 40,000 rupees in 1980 to 16,000 rupees in 1989, with inflation running as high as 10% during the decade. ...

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan arrests two men over #London murder of dissident politician Imran Farooq. #MQM #Karachi … via @Reuters

Pakistani authorities said they arrested two men on Thursday in connection with the murder of a dissident Pakistani politician in London five years ago.

Mohsin Ali Syed, who left Britain just hours after Farooq's murder and is wanted by Scotland Yard, and Khalid Shamim were crossing into Pakistan's Baluchistan province from Afghanistan when they were arrested.

Farooq was a founding member of a major political party in Pakistan, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), which controls Karachi, Pakistan's richest city and home to 20 million people.

He has been accused of murder, torture and other serious crimes and was seeking asylum in London when he was stabbed and beaten to death on his way home from work.

"The two men are MQM activists, one of them is directly involved in the Farooq stabbing, the other is said to be handler," a senior security official told Reuters.

MQM was not immediately available for comment.

A spokesman for the paramilitary Frontier Corps said, "The Interior Ministry has been informed about their arrest and the men will be handed over to the Federal Investigation Agency."

MQM's leader Altaf Hussain has been living in self-imposed exile in Britain since 1992. He was arrested and questioned in connection with Farooq's murder last June, leading to protests that shut down Karachi.

No one has been charged with Farooq's murder but several MQM activists have been questioned and one of them was arrested on suspicion of money-laundering in April.

Last year, Scotland Yard said they wanted to trace Ali and a second Pakistani man, Muhammad Kashif Khan Kamran, who also left Britain just hours after Farooq's murder.

Kamran's whereabouts remain unknown.

The arrests may raise further weaken MQM at a time of rising tensions between Karachi's civilian politicians and the powerful military.

The two sides have been trading corruption allegations for several days and this week the paramilitary Rangers raided a government office after accusing an unnamed political party of controlling mafias in the city.

Riaz Haq said...

#BBC reporter @OwenBennettJone on #GeoTV @shahzebkhanzda stands by his story of #MQM funding by #India's #RAW …

#BBC reporter @OwenBennettJone stands by his story of #MQM funding by #India's #RAW #AltafHussain …

Riaz Haq said...

Excerpt of "Transcending divisions: the consolidation of Pakistan" by Benazir Bhutto published in 1996 in Harvard International Review:

Occasionally, the question is raised if national integration has succeeded equally in the province of Sindh. In the past, Sindh often resisted the national government, but this resistance stemmed largely from Sindhis' opposition to military rule from Islamabad. Most recently, Sindh has shown two opposite trends: on the one hand, the PPP swept rural Sindh and brought it into the national mainstream, defusing past sentiment for Sindhi independence. On the other hand, the Muhajir Qaumi Movement (MQM) swept urban Sindh in those elections and continues to agitate against the established government. The MQM claims to represent the Muhajirs, those Muslims who immigrated to Pakistan from India since the time of partition in 1947. Arguing that the Muhajirs form a distinct ethnic group in Pakistan that had been denied its share of national economic opportunities, the MQM tragically opted out of the democratic process and resorted to extraconstitutional and violent means to achieve its objectives. It has shattered the peace of Karachi, Pakistan's largest city and one that absorbed much of the immigrant population in the past fifty years, through its compulsively violent tactics and the external assistance provided to it by a foreign power.

The MQM, using a warped version of the ideology of Pakistan, recruited a significant number of malcontents into its clandestine army. The bulk of the Muhajir community, fortunately, kept itself away from this Nazi-style organization and showed a clear preference for democratic dialogue rather than terrorism. This factor has been instrumental in limiting terrorism only to some parts of Karachi. The Pakistan government has taken a two-fold approach to the MQM: it will combat MQM terrorism, and it will at the same time engage in a political dialogue with the MQM and implement vigorous social and economic measures for the uplift of Karachi. The city has grown much too fast for its civic and commercial institutions to keep pace with its expansion, and the government has therefore developed a master plan to redress this situation at every level, from improving mass transit to expanding adequate job opportunities.

The threat posed by MQM terrorism would actually pose only a marginal problem were it not for the unfortunate fact that in South Asia, violent movements fall easy prey to external manipulation. At a time when most countries of the world are engaging in the formation of trading blocs within the parameters of a globalizing economy, South Asia continues to pay a heavy price for the old-fashioned hegemonic ambitions of the largest South Asian state. India's vaulting aspirations to project power in the region and beyond has affected South Asia at several levels. Precious resources needed for social action have been diverted to military expenditure. The region faces the most serious nuclear threat in the world today, aggravated by great advances made by India in missile technology. Above all, not a single state in South Asia has escaped gross interference in its internal affairs. Even the smallest of states, which pose no conceivable threat to their great neighbor, have seen this interference plunge them into long periods of internal turmoil. It is unfortunate that India did not resist the temptation to contribute support to MQM terrorism; at a number of locations in India, scores of MQM activists continue to be transformed into terrorists. South Asia will have a bleak future if such cross-border interference, masterminded by overgrown intelligence services, continues. The political process will resolve the MQM problem in Karachi, and Indian interference will result only in injecting avoidable tension into interstate relations.

Riaz Haq said...

How Pakistan’s Most Feared Power Broker Controlled a Violent Megacity From London

Though he was born in Karachi in 1953, Hussain has always identified as a Mohajir—a term that refers to those, like his parents, who left India after partition. In Agra, about 140 miles south of Delhi, Hussain’s father had a prestigious job as a railway-station manager. In Karachi he could only find work in a textile mill, and then died when Hussain was just 13, leaving his 11 children dependent on Hussain’s brother’s civil-service salary as well as what their mother earned sewing clothes. Such downward mobility was common among Mohajirs, who were the target of discrimination by native residents of Sindh, the Pakistani state of which Karachi is the capital. Hussain was enraged by his community’s plight. He and a group of other Mohajir students founded the MQM in 1984, and Hussain gained a reputation for intense devotion to the cause. After one protest, when he was 26, he was jailed for nine months and given five lashes.

Religiously moderate and focused on reversing discriminatory measures, the MQM built a large following in Karachi, winning seats in the national and provincial parliaments. It didn’t hurt, according to UK diplomatic cables and two former Pakistani officials, that it received support from the military, which saw the party as a useful bulwark against other political factions. Although Hussain never stood for elected office, he was the inescapable face of the MQM, his portrait plastered all over the many areas it dominated.

From the beginning, the MQM’s operations went well beyond political organizing. As communal violence between ethnic Mohajirs, Sindhis, and Pashtuns worsened in the mid-1980s, Hussain urged his followers at a rally to “buy weapons and Kalashnikovs” for self-defense. “When they come to kill you,” he asked, “how will you protect yourselves?” The party set up weapons caches around Karachi, stocked with assault rifles for its large militant wing. Meanwhile, Hussain was solidifying his grip on the organization, lashing out at anyone who challenged his leadership. In a February 1991 cable, a British diplomat named Patrick Wogan described how, according to a high-level MQM contact, Hussain had the names of dissidents passed to police commanders, with instructions to “deal severely with them.” (Hussain denies ever giving instructions to injure or kill anyone).

Even the privileged came under direct threat. One elite Pakistani, who asked not to be identified due to fear of retribution, recalled angering the party by having the thieving manager of his family textile factory arrested, unaware the employee was an MQM donor. One afternoon in 1991, four men with guns forced themselves into the wealthy man’s car, driving him to a farmhouse on the edge of the city. There, they slashed him with razor blades and plunged a power drill into his legs. The MQM denied being behind the kidnapping, but when the victim’s family asked political contacts to lean on the party he was released, arriving home in clothes soaked with blood.