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Who is Altaf Hussain, Pakistan's firebrand politician arrested in London?

Altaf Hussain has been arrested in relation with the hate speech of 2016 in which he urged his followers to take law into their own hands

Aditya Nambiar Aditya Nambiar
New Delhi Published on: June 11, 2019 20:35 IST
Altaf Hussain has committed several offences but the
Image Source : MQM WEBSITE

Altaf Hussain has committed several offences but the current focus is on the hate speech he delivered in 2016.

Altaf Hussain, the self-exiled founder of one of Pakistan's biggest political parties, has been arrested in the UK, his spokesman has said.

Who is Altaf Hussain?

Born on September 17, 1953, the British-Pakistani fugitive Altaf Hussain is famously known as the founder of Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM).

Hussain was born to Nazir Hussain and Khurseed Begum. 

In India's pre-independence era, the family lived in Agra, but was forced to relocate to Karachi in Pakistan when the partition took place. 

In 1974, Hussain passed out from Islamia Science College with Bachelors of Science and in 1979, he graduated from the University of Karachi with Bachelors of Pharmacy. 

It is interesting to note that he served in the military for a while under the National Service Cadet Scheme (NSCS) with General Yahya Khan as the military chief.

His involvement in politics began early, but it led to him being a globally known fugitive. For now, Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) is probably the biggest chapter in his life.

Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM)

Also known as Muhajir Quami Movement, the political party from Pakistan was founded in 1984 by Altaf Hussain. 

Based in Karachi, MQM came from a student organisation in 1978 started by Hussain, which was called All Pakistan Muhajir Student Oragnisation (APSMO). 

The word 'Muhajir' refers to Urdu-speaking Muslim refugees and it was later replaced with 'Muttahida' which means 'united'. 

MQM was famed for being a dominant political force in Pakistan for many years. There was a gradual downgrade when parliamentarians from MQM started resigning due to crackdown on party supporters.

MQM is finally projected to an infamous light due to the party head -- Altaf Hussain's hate speech in 2016. A military crackdown later, Nine Zero (headquaters of MQM) was sealed, leaders such as Farooq Sattar were arrested and most members of the party were forced to detach themselves from Hussain.

Why is Altaf Hussain wanted?

Altaf Hussain has committed several offences -- murders, targetted killings, inciting violence, treason, etc. but the current focus is on the hate speech he delivered in 2016. 

It is only after 27 years that he is arrested because he fled to the United Kingdom in 1992 after a military crackdown on his party.

The provocative speech involved him calling Pakistan 'a cancer for the entire world'. 

“Pakistan is a headache for the entire world. Pakistan is the epicentre of terrorism for the entire world. Who says long live Pakistan…is down with Pakistan” he had said.

Hussain apologised for his speech to the then army chief -- General Raheel Sharif, but his speech caused such an uproar that it wasn't enough to save MQM from a crackdown and he was forced to escape to the UK. 

Current development

Altaf Hussain was arrested on Tuesday by the Scotland Yard in London. He was taken to a South London police station.

Fifteen officers took part in an evening raid at his North London home, Geo News reported.

Altaf Hussain has been arrested in relation with the hate speech of 2016 in which he urged his followers to take law into their own hands, it said. 

The police statement does not name Hussain, referring instead to him as "an individual associated with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement in Pakistan".

He was arrested at an "address in North West London... on suspicion of intentionally encouraging or assisting offences contrary to Section 44 of the Serious Crime Act 2007", the statement said, adding that the man remains in custody.

Also Read: MQM founder Altaf Hussain arrested in London over 2016 hate speech

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