KARACHI: In a targeted operation in the wee hours of Wednesday, Rangers carried out a raid at Nine-Zero, the headquarters of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in Karachi, with the party claiming that several leaders had been arrested.
In a statement issued hours after the start of the operation, the MQM’s Raabta Committee said Rangers personnel had forcefully raided and ransacked the MQM’s head office.
: A heavy contingent of Rangers raided Nine Zero, the headquarters of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in Karachi’s Azizabad neighbourhood on Wednesday morning, prompting a protest by party activists and a subsequent call for a day of “peaceful mourning” across the country.
A number of party workers including Member of MQM’s Rabita Committee Amir Khan were detained during the raid. Rabita Committee is MQM’s central coordination cell.
A summary of the raid and subsequent events:
- MQM says office bearer killed during raid
- Cameraman injured while reporting on the scene
- Rangers say no man killed, hardened criminals arrested
- MQM announces peaceful protest
- Schools close, examinations postponed as citizens fear violence
Rangers have authority, not justice: Altaf
MQM Chief Altaf Hussain in a telephonic address denounced the raid by Rangers on Nine Zero.
Following is a summary of his address:
- Altaf said that this was the first time that the house of a political party chief was raided
- Addressing Rangers personnel, he remarked that Rangers have authority but they are unable to deliver justice
- He said that the establishment does not tolerate MQM’s presence
- He maintained that the ammunition seized from Nine Zero by Rangers does not belong to MQM. He further said that if the weapons belonged to MQM, they would not have been stored in Nine Zero
- He claimed that the ammunition recovered was brought by Rangers personnel themselves, concealed in blankets
- Altaf demanded that “terrorism in the name of search operations” be stopped
- He claimed that more than 60 people were arrested during the raid by Rangers
Party office bearer killed: MQM
MQM spokesperson Wasay Jalil said a senior party office bearer, Waqas Ali Shah of the central information committee, was killed by Rangers during the raid.
Additional IG Sindh police Ghulam Qadir Thebo while speaking to DawnNews said that Shah was not shot by Rangers personnel, but that the bullet fired were from a hand-held gun.
Rangers Director General (DG) Major General Bilal Akbar has said that MQM activist Shah did not die of gunfire by Rangers personnel. He added that the young man was shot with a TT pistol and the fact would become clear once the medical board’s report is received.
A rangers spokesperson said no one was killed during the raid but that ‘unidentified men’ opened fire injuring an Express News cameraman.
Rangers personnel after breaking barricades leading to MQM headquarters cordoned off the area and searched through departments of the party’s offices .They also raided adjoining houses and arrested a number of MQM activists and leaders.
Speaking to media, Col Tahir called the two hour raid a “purely information-based operation” and divulged that the Khursheed Memorial Hall at Nine Zero has been sealed and will be handed over to police for further investigation
During the raid, the Rangers cut off the telephone lines at Nine Zero, disabling communication with MQM’s international secretariat
Party leader Haider Abbas Rizvi, who is in Islamabad, confirmed the raid to Dawn.com and said that communication with party workers at the headquarters could not be established during the raid.
Rizvi maintained that all the weapons seized by Rangers are licensed.
Scores of activists and party members protested the raid by Rangers by chanting slogans. Aerial firing also ensued outside Nine Zero as activists attempted to break Rangers’ cordon.
MQM announced a day of peaceful protest against the search operation by Rangers and urged for transport services to be suspended throughout the day.
The incident has emerged on a day when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif himself is due to visit the metropolitan today.
Rangers issue details of raid
A press release was issued by Rangers soon after the raid on MQM’s headquarters.
It said: “Pakistan Rangers Sindh has conducted a series of targeted raids at Surrounding areas of 90 including Khursheed Memorial Hall today. During the above mentioned action following hardcore criminals have been arrested.”
Following is the Rangers press release with details of those arrested:
- Faisal Mota (involved in murder of Wali Khan Babur and convicted and sentenced to death by court)
- Farhan Shabbir aka Mullah
- Nadir (convicted and sentenced 13 years)
- Ubaid K 2
Faisal Mota had been awarded the death sentence in absentia on Mar 1 2014 by an anti-terrorism court in the murder case of Wali Khan Babar, a Geo TV reporter.
Express News cameraman Waseem Mughal who was at Nine Zero among other media personnel has been injured due to firing.
An employee of the Express Media Group confirmed that Mughal has been shot in the arm and that his condition is stable.
‘Stolen ammunition seized’
According to Rangers spokerperson Colonel Tahir, ammunition stolen from Nato containers was also seized during the search operation at Nine Zero.
Speaking to media, MQM leader Faisal Subzwari admitted that weapons were seized during the raid, but said that they were all licensed and were being kept for security in view of the threats being received from “the Taliban and other extremist elements”.
“After the Army Public School attack, even schools and colleges are now being asked to keep weapons for security. We were also told to keep weapons for our security,” he said