KARACHI, Jan 30: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) said on Thursday it had no links with the two persons identified in a BBC programme as suspects in the murder of Dr Imran Farooq, a senior leader of the party.
The party criticised BBC for making a documentary against the MQM and its chief Altaf Hussain and said the purpose of “the media trial” was to “influence the courts as well as the murder investigation in the UK”.
In its Newsnight programme, the broadcaster named Pakistani students Mohsin Ali Syed and Mohammad Kashif Khan Kamran as the suspects. It said the record showed that the two left the UK on Sept 16, 2010, a few hours after the assassination, and flew to Sri Lanka and then on Sept 19 to Karachi. They were detained in the city.
Mr Farooq was stabbed outside his home in Edgware, London, near the MQM’s international headquarters.
At a press conference in Karachi, MQM leader Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui made it clear that the party had no links with the two “suspects” and that it was the responsibility of the British government to charge them with the murder.
He said the MQM also did not know Atif Siddique, the person named as the sponsor of the two men for their UK visa.
The MQM leader wondered why the British authorities had allowed Mr Syed and Mr Kamran to leave the UK if they were wanted for their involvement in Dr Farooq’s assassination.
Accompanied by Dr Farooq Sattar and Barrister Farogh A. Nasim, Dr Siddiqui said that the MQM was being victimised in the UK. He said Mr Hussain was a coin collector, but the British investigators had seized his collection and also the laptop of his daughter.
Rejecting the report, the MQM leaders said that Muttahida believed in freedom of the press, but the BBC programme was aimed at spreading false propaganda and “we believe it is the media trial of the MQM and Mr Hussain”. Barrister Nasim said the report was based on speculation and contained no fact.
He said he had responded to the allegation of money laundering in the BBC programme, but that part was edited out. He said BBC was being fed misleading information by the MQM’s opponents and announced that a legal course of action would be adopted against it.
PROSECUTORS’ REQUEST: According to the BBC report, British prosecutors have asked Pakistan to trace Mr Syed and Mr Kamran, who are believed to be in Pakistani custody but not under formal arrest.
The investigation has seen more than 4,000 people interviewed, but so far the only person arrested has been Iftikhar Hussain, nephew of the MQM’s chief.
Iftikhar Hussain was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder, but is now on police bail. It is an arrest the MQM says was based on wrong information.
Barrister Nasim described Iftikhar Hussain as “not a person who is really with himself mentally” and added that Iftikhar Hussain had suffered at the hands of the Pakistani authorities.
In November 2011, Metropolitan Police chief Bernard Hogan-Howe said his organisation was liaising with Pakistani authorities over the arrests.
The Pakistan government has denied anyone has been arrested and officials had not replied to questions about the request from the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service.
Documents obtained by BBC from official sources in Pakistan suggest Mr Syed and Mr Kamran secured UK visas on the basis of admission to the London Academy of Management Sciences (Lams).
The documents name two other men. One is Karachi-based businessman Muazzam Ali Khan, who is believed to have endorsed the suspects’ UK visa applications and was in contact with Iftikhar Hussain throughout 2010
The other is Atif Siddique, an educational consultant in Karachi, who is believed to have processed them. Mr Siddique said he was not the agent of Lams and did not know the two suspects.
Mr Syed arrived in the UK in February 2010 and Mr Kamran in early September 2010.
Phone records indicate the two moved around together and it is believed they kept Mr Farooq under surveillance.