KARACHI–In a targeted operation early Wednesday morning, Rangers forces carried out a raid at Nine-Zero, the headquarters of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement in Karachi, with the party claiming that several leaders had been arrested.
A Rangers spokesman said a large cache of illegal weapons had been recovered in the “information-based operation” and that several “criminals” had also been arrested.
MQM leaders claimed Rangers forces had conducted a “siege and search operation” at the party’s headquarters, ransacked its offices and had arrested several leaders of the political party.
In a statement issued hours after the start of the operation, the MQM’s Rabita Committee said Rangers personnel had forcefully raided and ransacked the MQM’s head office. The party said that several members had been arrested, including central leaders Amir Khan, Abdul Haseeb, Dr Saleem Danish, Arshad Hussain, Dr Ayub Sheikh, and Sindh Assembly lawmaker Rehan Zafar.
MQM chief Altaf Hussain addressing party workers said the raid on Nine Zero and his sister’s house by Rangers was completely unjustified.
He also condemned the killing of MQM activist Waqas Ali Shah and blamed the Rangers for shooting him, adding that whichever young activist the Rangers could take into custody, they did so without any warrants. He also said that over 60 workers of MQM have been arrested during the raid today.
The MQM chief questioned why no other party’s offices were ever raided in this manner and further said that the party had requested for an army operation in Karachi to stop the killings in the city, however, instead of an army operation a Rangers raid has been conducted.
Altaf Hussain made it clear that MQM has zero tolerance for terrorism and any terrorist elements within the party, adding that, however, if the Rangers still felt MQM was at fault then why not hand over the whole party to the Rangers and hand over Karachi to Jamat-e-Islami (JI), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
The MQM has claimed that Waqas Ali Shah, a member of the party’s central information committee was killed in the raid.
However, Karachi Police Chief Ghulam Qadir Thebo refuted the claims and said that Waqas was not killed by the Rangers and was in fact was shot in the head by a bullet from a small fire-arm.
Thebo said that he was stating information from the post mortem report from Abbasi Shaheed Hospital.
In an interview to news agency Reuters, MQM leader Aminul Haque claimed dozens of party workers had been picked up by the Rangers.
“Rangers opened fire killing one of our workers, Waqas Ali Shah, and wounding a cameraman from a private news channel,” he added.
Speaking to the media, Rangers spokesman Colonel Tahir said a large cache of weapons – including illegal weapons – had been recovered in the “information-based operation”.
“We showed you the weapons. Some illegal weapons are those which cannot even be imported into Pakistan. We suspect that these weapons may be those from missing Nato containers,” he said.
He said that several people had been arrested, including five to six suspects who were known to have criminal records.
He, however, claimed that no MQM lawmaker had been arrested, and that MQM senior leader Amir Khan was only kept in custody to explain “the presence of criminal elements” with him.
“This office will soon be sealed by the police. We are still carrying out search operation of the surrounding area and will share results with you after we have completed our investigation,” said the Rangers spokesman.
He said that 10 to 12 other people had also been arrested on suspicion, but reassured that they may be released after investigation.
Following the raid at MQM headquarters, a press release was issued by Rangers with details of arrests made.
According to the press release the following arrests had been made:
1. Nadir (convicted and sentenced 13 years)
2. Faisal Moto (involved in the murder of Wali Khan)
4. Farhan Shabbir alias Mullah
5. Ubaid K2
Speaking to media MQM leader Faisal Sabzwari said the weapons seized during the raid were licensed and were being kept by the party for security reasons.
According to Sabzwari the MQM had been receiving threats from the Taliban and other militants.
MQM leader Haider Abbas Rizvi told news agency AFP that all the weapons were licensed and issued to MPs of the party.
In a press statement released by the party, the MQM announced that it would observe a “day of peaceful protest” on Wednesday, and urged transporters and traders to keep their businesses and commercial activities suspended.
The party said that several members had been arrested, including central leaders Amir Khan, Abdul Haseeb, Dr Saleem Danish, Arshad Hussain, Dr Ayub Sheikh, and Sindh Assembly lawmaker Rehan Zafar.
The Rabita Committee also urged Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to take immediate notice of the incident.
Speaking to Geo News earlier, MQM leader Farooq Sattar said that such an operation at a political party’s head office 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 cooperate,” he said.
Sattar said such actions were “perplexing” and were meant to “push a peaceful political party against the wall”.
The MQM leader further claimed that such actions by the Rangers force were meant to “sabotage the national consensus”.
Meanwhile, petrol stations, educational institutions have been shut down in the city while public transport has also vanished.
Chief Minister Sindh Qaim Ali shah has taken notice and summoned a report of Rangers raid at Nine Zero.
According to the CM’s spokesman, the report has been summoned from DG Rangers and IGP Sindh.
The 2018 Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) annual conference is scheduled for April 8 to 11 in Boao, Hainan Province. The forum will be themed "An Open and Innovative Asia for a World of Greater Prosperity."
— The Daily Mail - People's Daily