Altaf Hussain

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Altaf Hussain
الطاف حسین
Altaf Hussain MQM.jpg
Altaf Hussain
Leader of the Mutahidda Qaumi Movement
In office
March 18, 1984 – Incumbent
Personal details
Born (1953-09-17) 17 September 1953 (age 60)
Karachi, Pakistan
Nationality British
Non resident Pakistani
Political party Mutahidda Qaumi Movement
Spouse(s) Faiza Altaf (divorced)
Children Afzaa Altaf
Residence London, United Kingdom
Alma mater University of Karachi
Islamia Science College (Karachi)
Occupation Politician, Philanthropist
Religion Islam

Altaf Hussain (Urdu: الطاف حسین‎) (born 17 September 1953 in Karachi) is a British Pakistani politician and fugitive of Pakistan[1] who founded and leads the Karachi based Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM). Hussain belongs from the dominating Karachi's muhajir community, his parents moved from Agra, India to settle in Pakistan. Hussain currently lives in London and maintains British nationality after he applied and was granted political asylum in 1992. Hussain founded the MQM in the 1980s to defend the interests of the muhajir community, the Urdu-speaking descendants of Muslims who moved from India to Pakistan during independence, in 1947. The MQM's political strongholds are urban Karachi and Hyderabad, Sindh. MQM is currently the fourth largest political party in the National Assembly of Pakistan. MQM has enjoyed enormous influence by being a key coalition partner of the different governments since 90's.[2][3][4][5]

A controversial figure at the least,[6] critics claim that Hussain and his party showed a readiness to use violence to fight for power. He and his party has long been accused of having an illegal armed wing intimately involved in Karachi's criminal economy of drugs, extortion and land theft. On 20 May 2013, Imran Khan accused Hussain of being directly involved in the murder of his party leader Zahra Shahid Hussain. Hussain currently faces allegations of murder of his party leader Dr Imran Farooq, money laundering and hate speech, the case is under investigation by the Scotland Yard. On July 3, 2013, Metropolitan Police Service raided Husain's house and seized approximately 1 million under the Proceeds of the Crime Act.[7] [8][9] On July 4, 2013 Hussain was interrogated for seven hours in connection with money laundering case.[10][11] On 8 July 2013, BBC News called Hussain a 'Pakistans most divisive politicians'.[12]

Early life

Altaf Hussain was born to Nazir Hussain and Khursheed Begum on 17 September 1953 in Karachi. His parents belonged to religious families from Agra, India. After the formation of Pakistan in 1947, his parents migrated to Pakistan and settled in Karachi.[citation needed] Hussain’s grandfather, Mufti Mohammad Ramazan, was Grand Mufti of the town of Agra, UP, India and his maternal grandfather Haji Hafiz Raheem Bhux was a reputed religious scholar in India.[citation needed]

Altaf Hussain got his early education from Govt Comprehensive School, Azizabad No. 8 Karachi. He then completed his matriculation in 1969 from Government Boys Secondary School. He attended National College Karachi during First Year of his Intermediate Education (Pre-Medical/Science) but switched to City College Karachi during Second Year of Intermediate from where he completed Intermediate.After that he went on to complete his Bachelors of Science from Islamia Science College (Karachi) in 1974[citation needed] apart from completing his Bachelor of Pharmacy by 1979 from the University of Karachi. After completion of his Bachelor of Pharmacy he later enrolled for his Master’s degree.[citation needed]

Hussain began his career as a trainee at Karachi’s Seventh Day Advent Hospital. At the same time, he also worked for a multinational pharmaceutical company.[citation needed] Between 1970 and 1971, Hussain joined the National Service Cadet Scheme. Soon afterwards, he also joined the Baloch Regiment of Pakistan Army.[citation needed]

Political career

Altaf Hussain was politically active from a very young age. While attending Karachi University, on 11 June 1978, Hussain founded the “All Pakistan Mohajir Student Organization” APMSO.[citation needed] The APMSO was formed as a student rights group campaigning for the rights of Muhajir students at Karachi University. It later gave birth to the Muhajir Qaumi Movement (MQM) on 18 March 1984, which afterward transformed into Muttahida Qaumi Movement on 26 June 1997.[citation needed] Before creating the APMSO, Hussain served as General Secretary and later as President of the National Student’s Action Committee at Karachi University.[citation needed]

The Pakistani government launched Operation Clean-up in 1992 and sent the military into Karachi to crack down on the MQM. Hussain escaped Karachi one month before the operation began because of an attack on his life on 21 December 1991.[13] Hussain fled to London and applied for political asylum.[14] He was granted British citizenship in 2002. According to Owen Bennett-Jones, he was given British citizenship because of a clerical error not yet disclosed by the officials.[15] In 2013, Hussein said he would resign as head of the MQM. However, he then rescinded his decision after party workers asked him to stay on.[16]

In September 2011, Altaf wrote a letter to the then British Prime Minister Tony Blair, offering his services for gathering huge crowds in Karachi, who can condemn terrorism. Further he offered to gather human intelligence against Taliban and proposed to provide fake aid workers in Afghanistan.[15]

Political views

Altaf Hussain believes history has proved the two-nation theory wrong.[citation needed] He contended that:

The idea of Pakistan was dead at its inception, when the majority of Muslims chose to stay back after independence, a truism reiterated in the creation of Bangladesh in 1971

Altaf Hussain and his party, MQM, follow the philosophy of Realism and Practicalism.[citation needed]

Talking about his party MQM, Hussain stated that “We stand for equal rights and opportunities for all irrespective of colour, creed, cast, sect, gender, ethnicity or religion. We strive tirelessly for tolerance, religious or otherwise and oppose fanaticism, terrorism and violence in all their manifestations.”[18]

In the last few years, Hussain has warned against the growing influence of the Taliban in Karachi. Hussain stated that the “advocates of Jihad, a medieval concept to tame the infidel, are wantonly killing followers of the faith as they level places of worship.”[18] In 2008, he stated that a “well planned conspiracy to intensify sectarian violence in the city, was being hatched.”[19][20]

Hussain has stated on numerous occasions that the

division of the subcontinent was the biggest blunder in the history of mankind and Nehru and Abdul Kalam Azad are responsible for it because they rejected that Grouping Formula and greater autonomy for muslim majority Province Of India. If they accepted it then Jinnah never have demanded a separate Pakistan and Jinnah was ready for co-exist within India

He believes that the independence divided the Muslims of the South Asia and made them weaker as a result.[21] Hussain favors peace between India and Pakistan and stated in his 2004 address in India that “India and Pakistan being the two largest in the region, need to demonstrate magnanimity and the necessary political wisdom and desire to truly seek peace. The Confidence Building Measures contemplated to bring the people of both countries closer must be implemented vigorously.”[18] On the issue of Kashmir, Hussain stated that Indo-Pak dialogue should be allowed to “proceed on the basis of mutual adjustment and agreement…[and] It should be clear to all concerned that there can be no military solution to any of the contentious issues, let alone the issue of Kashmir.”[18]

Assassination attempt

Altaf Hussain returned to Pakistan on 21 December 1991 after a short visit to London. He left Karachi International Airport for his hometown, Azizabad. He was intercepted by armed terrorists near Ayesha Manzil,F.B Area Karachi. The terrorists attacked his car with a hand grenade but the grenade exploded in the terrorist's hand and he died on the spot. The other terrorist was killed by counterattack from the police.[citation needed]

Arrests and imprisonments

First arrest

During his political struggle, Altaf Hussain was arrested and imprisoned thrice. He was first arrested on 14 August 1979 when he was attending a peaceful demonstration at Mazar-e-Quaid, Karachi for the return of Pakistanis stranded in Bangladesh. On 2 October 1979, he was sentenced to 9 months imprisonment and flogging five times. According to MQM sources, he was offered several deals by the then government officials but he refused any deal and became free only after fully completing his sentence on 28 April 1980.[citation needed]

Second arrest

Altaf Hussain was arrested the second time when he was returning after his historic address at Pakka Qila, Hyderabad on 31 October 1986 and was implicated in several criminal cases. His arrest enraged the people of Sindh, especially Karachi and they launched public movements for his freedom. Once again, the government offered him conditional freedom several times but he plainly refused his freedom without the freedom of his companions. Finally, due to great public pressure, Altaf Hussain and his companions were released from Central Prison Karachi on 24 February 1987 and all the charges placed on him were unconditionally lifted.[citation needed]

Third arrest

During 1987, the government began widespread arrests of Mutahidda Qaumi Movement workers all over Sindh. As a result, Altaf Hussain submitted himself to the law enforcement agencies on 30 August 1987 on the condition that the further arrests of his party's workers will be stopped immediately. During his imprisonment, MQM achieved great results in the Local Bodies election of 1987. Once again, government faced widespread movements by the people for the freedom of Altaf Hussain. On 7 January 1988, Altaf Hussain was released from jail.[citation needed]

Killing of brother and nephew

During October 1993 to November 1996, a large number of MQM's workers and sympathizers were killed without judicial intervention. Among them, Altaf Hussain's 66 years old elder brother Nasir Hussain and 28 years old nephew Arif Hussain were also killed. According to MQM sources, both of them were arrested by the law enforcement agents on 5 December 1995 and were kept in torture cell where they were brutally tortured for 4 days. They were then killed on 9 of December 1995 and their corpses were discovered from Gadap Town, Karachi.[citation needed]

Alleged involvement in Criminal Activities

Altaf Hussain was having 3576 cases and charges of corruption against him. But in November 2009 all the cases were dropped under National Reconciliation Ordinance,[22] a legal act which granted amnesty to politicians, political workers and bureaucrats who were accused of crimes between 1986 and October 1999, the time between two occurrences of Martial law.[23] However, MQM officials maintain that all these charges were wrong and were put up only to disparage the popularity of Altaf Hussain and MQM and that they are ready to face any of these false accusations at the Supreme Court of Pakistan.[24]

Dr. Imran Farooq murder case

Imran Farooq, former member and senior leader of MQM was found dead outside his home in September 2010 in London in a suspected politically-motivated plot after rumours he was planning to split from the MQM party.[citation needed] Police believe that the killing of Dr Farooq as he returned from work needed careful planning and involved several people. A kitchen knife and brick were found at the scene. Dr Farooq was one of the founders and a significant player in the MQM party. Pakistani analysts believe that Dr Farooq was preparing to leave the party and set up a rival political force to the MQM, which has strongholds in London, Canada and South Africa.[citation needed] On 20 June 2013 London Police team investigating Farooq's murder raided Altaf Hussain's residence[25] and continued search for 55 hours.[26]

Money laundering

According to BBC, Metropolitan Police of London started money laundering probe against Hussain after they recovered some money from his house, whose source could not be ascertained.[27] The recovery was made during the search of Altaf's residence in December 2012 and June 2013.[28]

Inciting violence

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's chairman Imran Khan accused Altaf of inciting violence and soliciting murder after the May 2007 riot in Karachi.[29] While calling Hussain a terrorist, he said that in 1999 General Pervez Musharraf the then Chief of Army Staff (who later allied with Hussain) told the government that Altaf Hussain receives funding from India for terrorism.[30] Later in 2013, Altaf was once again accused of inciting violence in Karachi by Imran Khan, after his party's leader Zahra Shahid Hussain was killed in the city on 18 May 2013.[31] A few days before Zahra's killing, Altaf said to her party's protesters camped at Teen Talwar:[32]

I don’t want to fight with you, otherwise my people could have turned the symbolic Teen Talwar into real sword on one order of mine.

In response numerous complaints were filed with London Metropolitan Police against Altaf for inciting violence.[33] Owen Bennett-Jones wrote in The Guardian that a Pakistani television channel couldn't find an actor to parody Altaf Hussain in a comedy show, as everyone feared for their life in case Hussain didn't like the show.[15]

See also


  1. ^ "Phony Nobel Prize nominee linked to leader of Controversial Pakistan political group deported". US Fed News Service  – via HighBeam (subscription required). 20 November 2006. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  2. ^ "Pakistan Elections 2008". Retrieved 2012-03-19. 
  3. ^ "Pakistan Elections 2008". Retrieved 2012-03-19. 
  4. ^ "PPP gets mandate to rule Gilgit-Baltistan". Dawn. 14 November 2009. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  5. ^ "Karachi tense after UK killing". Al Jazeera. September 17, 2010. Retrieved January 10, 2011. 
  6. ^ Luke Harding and Jon Boone in Islamabad. "Karachi's king over the water: Altaf Hussain of the MQM". Guardian. Retrieved 2013-07-30. 
  7. ^ Desk, Web. "Altaf Hussain interrogation carried out as per UK law, govt kept informed: Nisar". Retrieved 2013-07-30. 
  8. ^ "MQM limits itself to Karachi and Hyderabad". Retrieved 2013-07-30. 
  9. ^ "Met Police says cash was seized". Retrieved 2013-07-30. 
  10. ^ "MQM Altaf Hussain face 7 hours interrogation". Retrieved 2013-07-30. 
  11. ^ "Anti-terror police search Altaf Hussain’s UK house". Retrieved 2013-07-30. 
  12. ^ "Altaf Hussain: Pakistan's powerful but absent politician". 2013-07-08. Retrieved 2013-07-30. 
  13. ^ Altaf Hussain.
  14. ^ "MQM Altaf Hussain’s Profile". Archived from the original on 22 November 2010. Retrieved Oct 29, 2010. 
  15. ^ a b c Owen Bennett-Jones (29 July 2013). "Altaf Hussain, the notorious MQM leader who swapped Pakistan for London". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  16. ^ "Pakistan's MQM chief withdraws resignation - Central & South Asia". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 2013-07-30. 
  17. ^ Faruqui, Ahmad (2005-03-19). "Jinnah's unfulfilled vision: The Idea of Pakistan by Stephen Cohen". Asia Times (Pakistan). Retrieved 2009-10-06. 
  18. ^ a b c d "Altaf Hussain Visits India: His Keynote Speech". Chowk. Retrieved Dec 9, 2010. 
  19. ^ Walsh, Declan (30 April 2009). "Spate of shootings kill 29 in Karachi". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-06-23. 
  20. ^ Ebrahim, Zofeen (2007-05-14). "PAKISTAN: Karachi Allowed to Burn, Say Residents". IPS. Retrieved 2009-08-06. 
  21. ^ "A Muhajir’s Prayer (Q & A with Altaf Hussain)". Hindu Vivek Kendra. Retrieved Dec 9, 2010. 
  22. ^ "3576 criminal cases against Altaf, others withdrawn". Retrieved 2013-07-30. 
  23. ^ "Govt releases list of NRO beneficiaries". The Nation. November 21, 2009. Retrieved January 3o, 2011. 
  24. ^ "Dunya News: Pakistan:-MQM ready to face Mirzas charges in court: Sabzwar". Retrieved 2013-07-30. 
  25. ^ "Imran Farooq murder: London police raid house registered to Altaf Hussain". The Express Tribune. 20 June 2013. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  26. ^ "Imran Farooq murder case : One of Altaf Hussain’s houses searched for 55 hours". Daily Times. 21 June 2013. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  27. ^ "MQM denies it incites violence in Pakistan from London". BBC. 11 July 2013. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  28. ^ "Altaf seeks time to submit evidence in money laundering case". Daily Times. 25 July 2013. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  29. ^ "My life is in danger: Imran Khan". Reddif News. 15 November 2007. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  30. ^ "Musharraf once called Altaf Hussain a terrorist, claims Imran". Hindustan Times  – via HighBeam (subscription required). 18 June 2007. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  31. ^ "Zahra Hussain’s murder: UK should stop its citizens from inciting violence, says Imran". The Express Tribune. 22 July 2013. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  32. ^ Rabia Ali (13 May 2013). "Lashing out: Detach Karachi if you don’t accept our mandate, says Altaf". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  33. ^ Murtaza Ali Shah (14 June 2013). "Galloway sets up fund for filing case against MQM chief". The News. Retrieved 1 August 2013.