Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan hit out at Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain on Monday and accused him of having let loose a “reign of terror” in Karachi. I
n the same breath, the PTI chief asked the military leadership to clarify its position on the MQM’s accusation that the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) was hostile to the party.
Accompanied by PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Imran Khan exuded his usual hostile streak at an explosive press conference. “I am absolutely clear that the MQM is responsible for bringing Karachi to a stage where nobody is safe at the hands of the party’s armed wing. Now with the revelation of the JIT report in which Mr Hussain’s party has been held responsible for the killing of over 250 Baldia Town factory workers, the responsibility now lies with the federal government to take action against the perpetrators of the tragic incident,” he said. Mr Khan, who has visibly mellowed down after the end of PTI’s sit-in, clenched his fists in anger and heaped scorn on the MQM leadership. And dropped jaws of Mr Qureshi and party leader Naeemul Haq, who were sitting on his right and left respectively, showed the PTI chief wasn’t beating about the bush. He said the killing of factory workers was as grievous a crime as that committed against students of the Army Public School in Peshawar and, therefore, the entire nation should take to the streets against the MQM’s London-based chief in the same manner as people had expressed their outrage against perpetrators of the Dec 16 school tragedy.
He asked the military’s top brass to reply to the MQM’s allegation that the ISI had made a deliberate attempt to implicate the party’s leadership in the Baldia factory inferno case. “This is a serious allegation which needs an adequate response,” he said. Mr Khan also lashed out at the federal government for its weak-kneed response to criminals and said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who had been authorised by the January APC to take action against terrorists of all streaks, must take the lead and use military courts to bring executors of this [Baldia factory inferno] heinous crime to book. After the publication of the JIT report in media, PTI spokesperson Dr Shireen Mazari had in a press statement on Saturday called for action against the MQM and its leadership. In response, Altaf Hussain in a telephonic address made some insulting remarks against Ms Mazari and other women members of the party. To many, the PTI chief’s outburst was actually in response to what Mr Hussain had said against Dr Mazari and other women leaders. And this is not the first time the PTI chief had hit out at the MQM leader. He ran a campaign against Altaf Hussain’s alleged role in target killings and other crimes afflicting Karachi.
Imran Khan even went to London and approached the Scotland Yard for action against Mr Hussain. However, nothing significant happened afterwards. In reply to a question, Mr Khan said it was the successive governments back home — Gen Pervez Musharraf’s and Asif Ali Zardari’s — who didn’t act against Altaf Hussain out of political expediency. “Unfortunately, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, despite having an across-the-board support against criminals, is following the same line of action,” he regretted.
If the federal government was ready to provide evidence, notably the arrests it had made in the murder case of Dr Imran Farooq, the MQM leader could be apprehended, Mr Khan claimed. “Since a decision has been made at the APC that the state will move with full force against armed groups regardless of their party affiliations, what’s the federal government then waiting for,” he wondered. Accusing the MQM chief of masterminding the Baldia factory tragedy and target killings in Karachi, Mr Khan, however, clarified that he did not think that all Muttahida leaders and workers were involved in criminal activities. Putting the blame of killing of PTI’s leader Zahra Shahid and journalist Wali Babar in Karachi on the MQM chief, he once again pledged to take Mr Hussain to the British court. The PTI chief said that in future he would not attend an APC where the MQM was invited.