The British government has confirmed the existence of a letter from Altaf Hussain to Tony Blair in which the controversial Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader promised to help counter terrorism in Pakistan.
The message, previously denied by the Downing Street and revealed via a Freedom of information request by the BBC, called for the abolition of Pakistan’s feared security agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
Hussain, a British citizen who has lived in North London since 1991, retains a firm hold over his party from exile, with the MQM boasting more than 18million supporters in Karachi alone.
An investigation into the 2010 murder of fellow MQM member Imran Farooq, who was killed outside his London home, resulted in British police raiding Hussain's home and offices earlier this year. large sums of money were reportedly found at the residence, leading to accusations of money laundering, however no arrests have so far been made.
According to The News International, the letter, sent in September 2001 and signed by Hussain, offered help against Al-Qaeda in return for “participation in governing the province of Sindh and in disbanding the ISI”.
Hussain pressed for help disbanding the ISI, warning that the agency would “continue to produce many Osama-bin-Ladens and Talibans in future”. He offered to provide “unlimited resources throughout the towns and villages in the province of Sindh and the province of Punjab to some extent, to monitor the activities of fundamentalists and Taliban-led organisations, and also to monitor the activities of Madrasas” in return.
“The Prime Minister’s Office received a letter from Mr Altaf Hussain which was passed to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) for a response,” the Cabinet Office confirmed to the BBC. The government said that Hussain’s letter was not replied to.
In May, police confirmed they were investigating remarks allegedly made by Hussain following the conclusion of the Pakistani general election, in which he allegedly threatened violence against protesters in Karachi.