A leading Pakistani politician has been arrested in London, sparking fears of unrest in his home city of Karachi.
Officials with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement or MQM party said Altaf Hussain was detained Tuesday on suspicion of money laundering. British police said a 60-year-old man was arrested following a search of his property in London, but they did not confirm his identity.
Altaf Hussain leads the MQM party in Pakistan's southern port city of Karachi. He has been in self-imposed exile in London since the early 1990s, when Pakistan's government cracked down on his party. He regularly addresses his supporters in Karachi through a loudspeaker connected to a telephone.
Following reports of Hussain's arrest, police said extra security has been deployed to protect the British consulate in Karachi, which has been the scene of political, sectarian and militant unrest.
MQM officials are urging supporters to remain calm and maintain peace in the country's financial hub. Businesses in Karachi closed early, fearing riots and other violence. Pakistan Railways briefly halted trains in the city.
The MQM largely represents the Urdu-speaking community, whose members migrated to Karachi from India during that country's partition and the subsequent creation of Pakistan in 1947.