الثلاثاء , يونيو 16 2020

Pakistan soldiers raid MQM office

A relative of a supporter of MQM  who was detained by paramilitary forces during a raid protests with others along a street in Karachi March 11Supporters protested after a number of party workers were detained

Security forces have raided the Karachi headquarters of Pakistan’s fourth biggest political party, sparking street protests.

Col Tahir Mahmood said troops acted on information that the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) was hiding criminals.

A number of party workers suspected of murder were detained, he said, and illegal weapons were recovered.

The MQM has long been accused of using violence and intimidation to control Karachi – claims it denies.

The party’s leader Altaf Hussain, who lives in self-imposed exile in London, is being investigated in the UK over money laundering allegations.

His arrest by UK police last year sparked protests in Karachi.

‘Beyond understanding’

After Wednesday’s early morning raid, supporters and activists gathered outside the MQM headquarters and party leaders called for a nationwide strike.

Speaking to Pakistan’s Geo News, senior MQM figure Farooq Sattar said the operation was “inappropriate and beyond understanding”.

“MQM has itself always maintained its policy of zero tolerance against crime and terrorism, and it has always offered to co-operate,” he said.

A paramilitary soldier (R) stands beside detained supporters during a raid on Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) political party headquarters, in Karachi March 11Party workers were rounded up by the Pakistan Rangers

A relative mourning the death of Waqas Ali Shah, a supporter of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) political party who was killed during a raid by paramilitary forces on MQM's headquarters, is comforted by others at a hospital morgue in Karachi, 11 MarchA party worker was shot dead during the raid, though it is unclear who fired the shot

A paramilitary soldier displays weapons recovered during a raid on the MQM party headquarters in Karachi March 11Security forces said they suspected some of the weapons were from a missing Nato container

The MQM says a number of its leaders, including senior leader Amir Khan, have been detained.

But Col Tahir told local media Mr Khan had not been arrested, but was being held for questioning to explain “the presence of criminal elements”.

Col Tahir said a large cache of weapons had been recovered, including illegal weapons that “cannot even be imported into Pakistan”.

“We suspect that these weapons may be those from missing Nato containers,” he said.

Party officials said the weapons were held legally.

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