British police are looking into complaints made against a Pakistani politician who is alleged to have threatened violence when addressing supporters at a recent event in London.
Altaf Hussain, who is a British citizen and who made the remarks following the conclusion of the Pakistani general election last Sunday, may have violated UK law when he allegedly threatened violence against protesters in Karachi.
A supporter of Altaf Hussain holds his picture during a protest rally in Karachi
Hussain’s Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) won 18 of 19 national assembly seats in Karachi. However, the victory was immediately subject to accusations of vote rigging and electoral fraud, particularly from the second-placed Movement for Justice Party (PTI), led by former international cricketer Imran Khan. Amid the accusations, Hussain told the crowd in London that should his party’s victory in the election not stand, Karachi would be forced to separate from Pakistan.
The political recriminations have been exacerbated by the brutal murder of Zahra Shahid Hussain, 60, the Karachi-based senior vice-president of the PTI, who was gunned down by two assailants in the city on Saturday night. Khan quickly blamed Hussain’s MQM for the murder, a charge the MQM party has strenuously denied.
After the reported murder, Khan said in a statement: "Her death has sent shockwaves across the rank and file of the party."
He also wrote a series of tweets accusing the MQM:
Following the tweets and a similarly toned address from his hospital bed (Khan injured himself falling off a stage), the MQM reportedly moved to sue the former cricketer for defamation.
Hussain is alleged to have made the threats in London against the Karachi protesters following accusations of electoral fraud. Hussain told the crowd: "Those people who are protesting - and grandstanding - near Three Swords - I don't want to fight or quarrel, but if I order my supporters now, they will go to Three Swords and turn them into a reality. MQM is blamed for everything. I say, oppose us with respect and decency, and with proof, otherwise I will soon unleash my supporters." Hussain subsequently said his comments were taken out of context.
Despite having lived in London since 1991, Hussein retains a firm hold over his party from exile. The MQM is estimated to boast more than 18million supporters in Karachi alone.
The national vote witnessed Nawaz Sharif and his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) secure a landslide victory.