Mysterious world of a movement in exile
Thursday 15 November 2007
Altaf Hussain, who once worked as a cab driver in Chicago, founded his Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) in 1984 to represent the mohajirs – Muslim refugees who went to Pakistan from India on partition. The party went on to run the port city of Karachi with an iron grip while facing severe criticism from opponents who accused it of carrying out violent intimidation.
Mr Hussain left Pakistan after a warrant was issued for him in connection with a murder. He arrived in Britain in 1992 for a kidney operation and has stayed here ever since acquiring UK citizenship. The party's "international secretariat" is housed in a red-brick office block opposite a supermarket on Edgware High Street in north London.
Mr Hussain has been accused of directing attacks against political opponents while sitting in London. At the same time he forged a political alliance with General Pervez Musharraf and is said to be in regular telephone contact with the Pakistani leader. The party insists it is secular and liberal and in the forefront of the "war on terror" against Muslim fundamentalists.
MQM was accused of sparking the violence in Karachi in May when gunmen opened fire on supporters of the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry; 42 people were killed. The security forces were accused of standing by and allowing MQM members to carry out attacks. Mr Hussain, however, denied the charges, saying that his members were victims and pointing out that 13 of them have been killed. Dr Farooq Sattar, the head of the party in Pakistan, said: "There is a conspiracy against us."
The British government is said to have liaised with Mr Hussain and the MQM recently in an attempt to ensure the safety of Benazir Bhutto when she returned to Pakistan to take part in the elections. In the event, she was the target of a massive bombing within hours of arriving in the country.
Have shock jocks gone too far after Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a slut?
The ‘Beverly Hills’ of Surrey pays more income tax than big cities of the North
British business: We need to stay in the European Union - or risk losing up to £92bn a year
World news in pictures
British father faces charges after confessing to slitting his two children's throats in Lyon flat
- 1 The ‘Beverly Hills’ of Surrey pays more income tax than big cities of the North
- 2 Gareth Bale agrees new £130,000-a-week Tottenham contract - but can leave next season for £50m
- 3 'Revenge porn' is no longer a niche activity which victimises only celebrities - the law must intervene
- 4 The moral case on tax avoidance is overwhelming - and we all know Google wants to do the right thing
- 5 Sam Wallace: The second coming of Jose Mourinho at Chelsea will be a reunion that can only end in tears
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
£450 - £500 per annum: Progressive Recruitment: BI Developer (SQL Server 2008,...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Reading: Our client is a co-educational boardin...
£60000 - £70000 per annum: Progressive Recruitment: Your technical knowledge o...
£16000 - £18000 per annum + OTE: Connex Education: Connex are a reputable and ...