Britain’s Special Relationship With MQM’s Altaf Hussain
o London Raid: Britain arm-twisted MQM chief Altaf Hussain to get behind Zardari
o MQM’s Farooq Sattar warned British diplomats in Pakistan against ‘defaming’ Altaf Hussain
o Farooq Sattar told a British diplomat that his party ‘is the only party’ in Pakistan ‘loyal to and shares common interests with’ Britain
o Britain supports MQM through DFID, but the British govt. was not pleased when the party ended alliance with PPP
o MQM sought British government support at United Nations against Pakistan on delimiting constituencies in Karachi
o British high commissioner declined invitation to visit MQM’s head offices in Karachi to avoid suspicions over UK-MQM links
SPECIAL REPORT | 22 May 2013
LONDON—Britain is soft on MQM and its chief Altaf Hussain, who gets to use London as a safe haven. He gets legal protection as a British citizen. But occasionally, Britain gives Altaf Hussain a little slap on the hand every now and then when he gets out of line.
This is apparently what happened one night in December.
MQM was creating problems for Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari. Britain helped put together his coalition government. Former American ambassador Anne W. Patterson regularly intervened with opposition politicians to get them off Zardari’s tail every time he got in trouble.
This time it was Britain’s turn to talk some sense into Mr. Hussain. So a group of British investigators descended on the London office of MQM chief and occupied it for two days, on Dec. 6 and 7, 2012. The declared mission was to search his office for evidence linking him to the murder of Imran Farooq, a MQM cofounder mysteriously assassinated in London in 2010.
This piece of information – the British raid and London’s links to domestic Pakistani politics – represents one aspect of the intriguing relationship between Britain and MQM, a violent Pakistani ‘political’ party that almost occupies the country’s largest city, Karachi, where police and the military dare not tread. Residents of Karachi, also the country’s richest city, are forced to pay protection money to MQM and to an assortment of other parties like ANP, PPP and several criminal syndicates that are linked to one or more of these political parties.
The raid came as a shock to MQM, which had come to rely on Britain as a trusted safe haven for the party’s leadership.
Several weeks after the raid, Dr. Farooq Sattar, a top MQM politician and Altaf Hussain’s main representative inside Pakistan, met with Mr. Francis Campbell, the British deputy high commissioner in Karachi. The meeting was anything but cordial.
A desperate Farooq Sattar warned the British diplomat against harassing the party chief in London.
“MQM has evidences,” Sattar warned Campbell in the meeting, “that the British government is backing the PPP government in its policies of encircling MQM at home and threatening and pressurizing Altaf Hussain in London.”
This revelation comes from a British politician with access to information on his country’s unique relationship to MQM, which controls Pakistan’s business hub and is effectively threatening secession.
PakNationalists.com has concealed the names of the British politician and the Pakistani journalist on their request.
The information is a diplomatic treasure trove that appears to have been gleaned from British diplomatic correspondence, but PakNationalists.com has no way of verifying this information. However, the British source’s links to United Kingdom’s foreign policy community are unquestionable.
The data confirms what many in the Pakistani government already know: that Britain maintains a close relationship with MQM, protecting Altaf Hussain’s London safe haven, financially nurturing the party through British public funds, and, between 2008 and 2013, using the party to prop up the PPP-led coalition that served American and British interests in Pakistan and the region.
FAROOQ SATTAR & FRANCIS CAMPBELL
The Sattar-Campbell meeting is said to have taken place in Karachi sometime in January 2013. Sattar almost accused the British government of arm-twisting Altaf Hussain. “He termed the raid on MQM’s office in London as an attempt to defame MQM in Pakistan,” said the British politician. “He emphasized that MQM is the only political party [in Pakistan] that is loyal to British Government and shares common political interests with the British Government. He also requested Francis [Campbell] to intervene to resolve the political crisis in Sindh.” [In upcoming reports, PakNationalists.com will show how several other Pakistani politicians made similar claims to British
To be fair to MQM, the information that the British politician provided is not limited to MQM but also covers meetings between Pakistani political parties and politicians and between British government representatives. Pakistanis will be stunned to read how some of their politicians are almost slavish in their dealings with the British government. This information will be released on PakNationalists.com over the coming days.
Despite the raid, the British government continued its special relationship with MQM. The raid was not publicized in the British media, and the party office in London and its chief were not put on media trial. Not a single British media outlet was briefed by the British government on this raid. No British media questioned what Britain’s business was allowing a Pakistani political party chief wanted by Pakistani courts to have a safe haven in London, using British soil to incite violence in Pakistan.
WASEEM AKHTAR & JONATHAN WILLIAMS
After the Sattar-Campbell meeting sometime in January, MQM legislator Waseem Akhtar met the British press attaché Jonathan Williams in Islamabad. This meeting is said to have taken place in the first week of February. The British source does not disclose where this meeting took place. Akhtar and Williams discussed the British government’s position on Pakistani general elections and MQM’s development projects in Karachi funded by the British government. For the first time, Akhtar hinted at MQM’s plans to end political alliance with Zardari’s PPP and sought British government’s support in the elections. Akhtar asked Williams to arrange for a visit by the British High Commissioner in Islamabad to MQM’s headquarters in Karachi to raise the party’s profile. To this, Williams was noncommittal, saying High Commissioner Adam Thomson would visit officials from all political parties before elections.
It is thought that a week or so after this meeting, the MQM ended its alliance with PPP on Feb. 16.
ISHRAT UL EBAD & ADAM THOMSON
On March 7, the British High Commissioner Adam Thomson traveled to Karachi to meet Governor of Sindh Ishrat ul Ebad, a MQM appointee. According to the British politician, it was most probably in this meeting that Thomson bluntly conveyed to Ebad and to MQM London’s displeasure at the demise of MQM-PPP alliance. “Mr. Adam Thomson conveyed to Dr. Ishrat ul Ebad, Governor Sindh, that MQM’s departure from alliance with PPP was not received well by” the British government, says the British politician. On his part, Ebad accused Pakistani intelligence agencies and the PPP of working together to undermine MQM’s influence in Karachi.
“Dr. Ishrat ul Ebad stated that practically Karachi is being governed by intelligence agencies and PPP is [undermining] the image of MQM in collaboration with intelligence agencies,” says the British source. The British high commissioner also conveyed to Ebad that he won’t be able to visit MQM headquarters in Azizabad, Karachi, in order to avoid creating an impression that Britain is sponsoring the party.
“The BHC regretted the invitation of MQM regarding High Commissioner’s visit to MQM HQ on the plea that BHC wants to dispel the impression of directing and formulating MQM policies by BHC,” said the British politician. Apparently the Ebad-Thomson meeting did end on a high point after all. The British high commissioner apparently conveyed to MQM official his government’s approval to fund two Karachi-based NGOs owned by MQM. One of them is called Ehsaas. The other NGO is called Raasta. The funding is to come from DFID, the British government agency that disperses aid to other countries in support of British policy objectives.
The British politician referred to another pre-election meeting between MQM’s Waseem Akhtar and an unnamed British diplomat. “Wasim Akhtar of MQM has assured British diplomats that if the British government helps MQM return to power, the party will look after UK’s interests in establishing a Business Zone at Baba and Bhit Islands adjacent to Kimari,” said the British source.
NASREEN JALIL & FRANCIS CAMPBELL
On April 1, senior MQM politician Nasreen Jalil visited Francis Campbell, the deputy British high commissioner in Karachi, where she sought British government’s support in taking the battle against Pakistani government and the Supreme Court of Pakistan to the United Nations. “Nasreen Jalil of MQM met British Deputy High Commissioner [Francis Campbell] at his residence in Clifton, Karachi on 1 Apr 2013, at 2000 hours. Nasreen conveyed party’s reservations on new delimitation of constituencies in Karachi. She added that new delimitation will lead to Talibanization of Karachi which may affect the smooth withdrawal of NATO supplies (containers) through the port city. She informed the British diplomat that MQM has taken the matter to the UN and requested UK’s support. MQM is also planning to invite a EU delegation to apprise them about the party’s stance on delimitation issue,” according to the British source.
WHAT ALL THIS MEANS?
These insights lay bare the extensive relationship between MQM and the British government. They also show the extent of problems that Pakistan is facing because of British safe havens for extremists and fugitives. Since the 1970s, Britain has allowed itself to become a safe haven for militants and extremists from the Middle East. In mid-1980s and mid-1990s, Egypt and Saudi Arabia publicly protested over British government’s protection for militants fighting to topple governments in Cairo and Riyadh. London has also played host to dissidents opposed to the Russian government under Vladimir Putin. It is obvious that Britain gives shelter to political fugitives to use them for its strategic policy. Aside from sheltering Altaf Hussain, there is strong evidence that Britain is hosting BLA terrorists involved in killing innocent Pakistani teachers, laborers and government officials.
London is also home to a British extremist group, Hizb al Tahrir, widely known to be penetrated by British intelligence, which in turn uses the group to further British interests in Middle East and Central Asia. The group has recently escalated a covert campaign to recruit lower- and mid-level soldiers and officers in Pakistan Armed Forces. It is the first case of a British-based group targeting Pakistani military personnel in what is suspected to be British psy-ops.
British sanctuaries for fugitives involved in violence and terror should top the Pakistani agenda. Another European country, Switzerland, has given a safe haven to Brahamdagh Bugti, the BLA terrorist commander who managed a terror campaign in Pakistan for years from his Afghan hideouts under American watch before he was escorted to safety in Europe by the American Central Intelligence Agency.
The British and Swiss examples point to a trend in development that needs to be nipped in the bud. This requires Pakistani government action, which is missing.
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