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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Rangers spox say 5 key criminals including Faisal Mota, Farhan Shabbir arrested in raid at Nine Zero

Explainer: Why the MQM raid was conducted today and what it means for Karachi's security By Our Special Correspondent Published: March 11, 2015 250 SHARES Facebook Twitter Email A paramilitary soldier displays weapons recovered during a raid on the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) political party's headquarters in Karachi. PHOTO: REUTERS KARACHI: Karachi’s residents woke up to worrying news this morning as they switched on their TVs or went through their smart phones looking for the latest news of the day. By 7.30am, WhatsApp groups were abuzz with reports of a Rangers operation underway at Nine Zero – Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) headquarters in Karachi. By 9.30am the operation was over. A Rangers spokesman said the office would be under the police’s custody for some time before being handed back to the party. Read: One dead, several injured as Rangers raid MQM headquarters A video released by the party to news channels showed several men sitting crouched on a road, with their hands behind their heads. Another scene showed a Rangers official, wearing a mask to partially cover his face, talking to MQM leader Aamir Khan. The MQM vehemently protested the action by the paramilitary force and said it was uncalled for given that the party was more than ready to hand over any criminals within its ranks to law-enforcement agencies. The Rangers, too, were quick to brief the media. They showed, what they said, were arms and ammunition recovered during the raid. “The arms that we seized during today’s raid include many whose import is banned in Pakistan,” a Rangers spokesman said. He also said that several “hardened criminals and target killers” had been detained during the raid, including Faisal ‘Mota’ who had been awarded a death sentence for involvement in the murder of journalist Wali Khan Babar. Read: Wali Khan Babar murder: One by one, 4 men linked to investigations bumped off That a paramilitary operation had raided the office of Pakistan’s fourth largest political party a day after that party refused to support the ruling PML-N’s candidate for Senate chairman is perhaps too much of a coincidence to be ignored. Perhaps, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), without whose consent the raid would not have happened, is sending a message to the MQM for its perceived disloyalty in the Senate chairman’s election. That said, the raid put the MQM on the defensive, and it responded to the weapons allegation by the Rangers by saying that these weapons were all licenced and kept in the party’s office for security purposes after the party had received threats from the Taliban. (That is a fact. The party came under the ire of outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in 2012 as well as during the run-up to the 2013 general election). Read: Luncheon meeting: Nawaz to host political parties’ heads today So what now? The party has appealed for calm but the city has all but shut down. Moreover, markets in several cities in Sindh such as Hyderabad, Sukkur, Nawabshah and Mirpurkhas have not opened for the day as well. The party’s response will depend to a great extent to what happens to the several dozen of its members it says the Rangers have taken into custody. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is expected in Karachi and it is likely that the MQM will register a protest with him in person. However, given what happened the last time there was a meeting in Karachi on the Karachi situation, the real shots in this are being called by GHQ and it may prevail on the premier to let matters take their course. While the outcome of these events is awaited, the people of Karachi – a city of over 20 million – will have to wait and see. Economic activity for Wednesday will be halted and ordinary people are going to face considerable hardship in the force of lost pay (for the hundreds of thousands of day wage earners), a difficult commute to work or no petrol. The party is likely to calibrate its response for the coming days going on the days developments as they unfold. Read: Taliban claim responsibility for attack on MQM camp No party, in government or in opposition, would be against an operation against hardened criminals and target killers but let’s face it – Karachi has seen violence by armed groups operating across the political spectrum and even jihadi and sectarian outfits have a presence in the city. In the interest of fairplay and being seen as even-handed, operations should be conducted against all such entities lest the city’s biggest political party and its supporters were to feel that they were being unfairly singled out. LIVE: One dead, several injured as Rangers raid MQM headquarters By Web Desk / Faraz Khan Published: March 11, 2015 0 SHARES Facebook Twitter Email PHOTO: MOHAMMAD SAQIB/EXPRESS 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. 10:21am Rangers spokesperson said five suspects including one involved in the murder of journalist Wali Khan Babar were arrested during the raid . The spokesperson said Faisal Mota was wanted by police in the murder case. The other suspects are identified as Farhan Shabbir aka Mullah, Amir, Nadir and Ubaid aka K-2. Wail Babar, a 28-year-old journalist, was shot dead in the Liaquatabad locality while driving home from office in the limits of the Super Market police station on January 13, 2011. He reported on drugs, crime, militancy and deadly turf struggles between the city’s main political parties. 10:18am Rangers official Colonel Tahir, while speaking to the media, said the raid inside and around Nine-Zero was conducted on a tip-off regarding presence of criminals in the area. Tahir said weapons, earlier stolen from Nato containers, were seized during the raid. “Certain ammunition recovered is banned in Pakistan,” he added. He said target killers and other offenders were arrested during the operation. The colonel also said no MNA or MPA was arrested during the search, however, he said MQM leader Amir Khan was held for questioning and will be allowed to leave once the interrogation is over. Tahir asked transporters and traders to continue with their activities. 10:07am MQM chief Altaf Hussain called for calm and condemned the raid. An MQM leader alleged that Rangers personnel planted the weapons inside Nine-Zero during the raid. 9:53am All Private Schools Association has announced closure of schools due to the uncertain security situation in the city. Examinations scheduled for today at University of Karachi and Federal Urdu University have also been postponed. 9:50am No one is allowed to go near Nine-Zero despite more MQM workers joining protesters outside the party headquarters. Demonstrators have called for registration of an FIR against Rangers for killing and injuring MQM supporters during the raid. Express News screen grab of MQM worker Waqas who was fatally shot during the Rangers raid. MQM leaders Wasey Jalil and Faisal Sabzwari have also joined party supporters in protest against Rangers personnel. 9:47am Emergency has been declared at all government-run hospitals. 9:46am Sophisticated foreign weapons were recovered from Nine-Zero during the raid. Rangers personnel have sealed Khursheed Memorial Hall in Azizabad. 9:37am MQM leader Haider Abbas Rizvi, while speaking to Express News, condemned the raid at a time when the country needs unity to fight war against terrorism. Rizvi, on behalf of MQM chief Altaf Hussain, asked party supporters to not take law in their hand and stay calm. 9:33am Party workers are still present outside Nine-Zero, chanting slogans against Rangers’ raid during which at least 35 MQM members and supporters were arrested. The arrested men include MQM leader Amir Khan, Abdul Haseeb and Rehan Khan. 9:30am With MQM supporters gathered outside Nine-Zero, Rangers personnel resorted to aerial firing to disperse the people. MQM worker Waqas, who worked at party’s information department, was killed because of the shooting. Several party workers including women and cameraman of Express News Waseem were also injured in the incident. 9:24am Karachi comes to a standstill after Nine-Zero raid, with schools cancelling classes in the wake of city’s security situation. 9:20am MQM leaders claimed Rangers conducted a “siege and search operation” at Nine-Zero, and arrested several leaders of the political party. 9:18am The party said that several members had been arrested, including central leaders Amir Khan, Abdul Haseeb, Dr Saleem Danish, Arshad Hussain, Dr Ayub Sheikh, and Sindh Assembly lawmaker Rehan Zafar. Further, the party announced that it would observe a “day of peaceful protest” on Wednesday, while urging transporters and traders to keep their businesses and commercial activities suspended. The Raabta Committee also urged Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to take immediate notice of the incident.

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