DesPardes + PKonweb

Altaf, Zardari, Nawaz In The Dock, Face Due Process of Law

Some view the shift– focus on rule of law, as an ongoing deconstruction and reconstruction process.

DESPARDES News Monitor — British police arrested self-exiled MQM founder Altaf Hussain in London on Tuesday as part of an investigation into hate speeches he gave in 2016 to supporters of his political party that ruled the economic powerhouse of Pakistan– megacity of Karachi, for decades.

London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement a man in his sixties had been arrested after a joint investigation with Pakistani authorities.

It did not identify the person but said the arrest was “in connection with an investigation into a number of speeches made by an individual associated with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in Pakistan”.

MQM has dominated the sweltering and teeming metropolis of Karachi, Pakistan’s largest and wealthiest city, since the 1980s. When security forces cracked down on the party in the 1990s, Hussain sought asylum in the United Kingdom and opted to become a naturalized British citizen– by law he’s a dual national.

“At times controlled destruction is what you require to improve upon a structure twisted beyond normal repair procedures”

Even from exile in London, Hussain controlled the mega city of 200m population– mostly Urdu-speaking, through a powerful network. Karachi police, his opponents, and a sizable number of former supporters, sympathizers have accused him of exhorting party workers to violence, extortion and kidnapping, charges he has denied.

He also faces charges in Pakistan for money laundering and anti-state activities.

Prime Minister Imran Khan came to power last year vowing to attack rampant political corruption in Pakistan and there have been a string of high profile cases being heard, investigated by the State’s independent anti-graft watchdog the NAB.

Former PM Nawaz Sharif, former President Asif Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur, former CM Punjab Shahbaz Sharif, his son Hamza, and a dozen others close to them are in the dock for white collar crime related investigation and charges.

The head of NAB, retired Justice Javed Iqbal vowed to rope in all the “big fish” involved in mega corruption scandals and recover “ill-gotten” monies– to fast-track the investigations, Mr. Iqbal set a 10-month process as practiced in many courts in UK and US.

“The parallax effect being felt for the first time by the entire nation, has many scratching their heads though.”

With a slogan of “accountability for all”, Justice Iqbal has warned the officers of his bureau of serious consequences should they fail to complete investigations within the stipulated time period or compromise on any matter under investigation. 

But opposition parties and those under probe say the State and the PTI-led government are using corruption as a pretext to silence its opponents and engineer politics.

Hussain’s arrest in London followed other high profile detentions of opposition politicians in Pakistan amid rancorous public display by two major parties– Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

On Monday, former president Asif Ali Zardari, leader of the opposition PPP, was arrested by NAB on corruption charges.

On Tuesday, Hamza Shahbaz, nephew of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, was taken into custody on charges of money laundering and possessing assets beyond his means. He later told reporters he was not guilty.

Former three-times elected PM Nawaz Sharif has been sentenced on corruption charges, and slapped with 7-year imprisonment.

Sharif’s PML-N party says the arrests were politically motivated and part of a campaign to target opposition parties and make them fall in line.

“Both parties’ leaders and supporters’ crying foul narrative appear to be losing traction as the truth is coming out,” one PTI-lawmaker said.

The new government led by former cricketer-turned politician now the PM, Mr. Imran Khan won the national elections last year promising to weed out corruption from the government– a slow and tall order many independent observers say.

Some view the shift– focus on rule of law, as an ongoing deconstruction and reconstruction process.

“At times controlled destruction is what you require to improve upon a structure twisted beyond normal repair procedures,” said one official on condition of anonymity.

According to one observer, “the parallax effect is being felt for the first time by the entire nation, and it has many scratching their heads though.”