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MQM leaders taken into custody by Rangers, party headquarters Nine Zero sealed

Paramilitary soldiers stand guard near the dismantled makeshift tents of the supporters of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) political party after a protest, in Karachi, Pakistan, August 22, 2016. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro
Paramilitary soldiers stand guard near the dismantled makeshift tents of the supporters of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) political party after a protest, in Karachi, Pakistan, August 22, 2016. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

Karachi: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) headquarters ‘Nine Zero’ has been sealed and senior party leaders were taken into custody by Sindh Rangers on Monday night for allegedly inciting violence in the metropolis, reported Pakistani media.

The party’s official website has also been shut down

The MQM headquarters was sealed after party workers turned to violence following directives by party chief Altaf Hussain before clashing with police, leaving at least one person dead and over half a dozen injured, reports the Express Tribune.

At least nine MQM leaders, including Dr Farooq Sattar, the party’s most senior parliamentarian, were subsequently detained.

MQM, a political party has dominated Karachi’s politics for decades even though its leader, Hussain, lives in self-exile in north London.

Hussain in a telephone address to his supporters castigated the media for not giving due coverage of his workers and allegedly raised anti-Pakistan slogans.

The party workers who had just ended a week-long hunger strike outside the Karachi Press Club (KPC) over a government crackdown against them then stormed the ARY News offices following the address.

Senior police official Saqib Ismail Memon said that the MQM workers fired at the ARY offices and ransacked the premises.

He added that they had been “incited by their leader”.

According to reports, the staffers of Neo TV station, whose offices are located in the same building as ARY, were also beaten up.

Reports suggest that protesters also surrounded the offices of Samaa TV.

According to reports, the protesters ransacked the studios of ARY News as part of a violent protest at the lack of news coverage of the hunger strike.

The MQM workers marched on the station after listening to a speech by Hussain broadcast from London.

MQM’s most senior parliamentarian, Farooq Sattar was also arrested on Monday as he arrived to address a press conference at Karachi’s Press Club.

DG Rangers Major General Bilal Akbar, who had visited the ARY offices, said nobody would be allowed to disturb law and order in the city.

“We will arrest those who incited this violence. Those who took the law into their own hands will be taken to task,” he said.

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, who later hosted a high-level law and order meeting, said no one would be allowed to raise anti-Pakistan slogans or hold the citizens of Karachi hostage.

The Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif had earlier called the DG Rangers and asked him to arrest those involved and restore peace in the city.

The Rangers last evening launched operations in several parts of the city against the MQM and surrounded its headquarters at Nine-Zero in Azizabad in addition to several party offices in different parts of the city.

Condemning the attack by the MQM on offices of TV stations, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said every word uttered against the state would be made accountable.

In a statement issued by his office, Sharif said, “Pakistan is our home and we know how to protect its sanctity. We can neither hear any word against Pakistan, nor can we forgive the one who speaks against Pakistan.”

He has directed the authorities at the federal and provincial levels to bring the culprits to task immediately.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said attacks on journalists and news channels were not acceptable.

Former president and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari also strongly condemned the attack on media houses.

Some members of the MQM also distanced themselves from Monday’s violence and condemned the incident. (ANI)

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