News / Asia

Altaf Hussain Arrest Shuts Down Karachi for Second Day

Female supporters of Pakistan's Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) political party, chant slogans to show solidarity with their leader Altaf Hussain in Karachi, Pakistan, June 4, 2014.
Female supporters of Pakistan's Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) political party, chant slogans to show solidarity with their leader Altaf Hussain in Karachi, Pakistan, June 4, 2014.
Reuters
Pakistan's largest city was on lockdown for a second day on Wednesday, with shops and markets closed and people staying home for fear of violence following the arrest in London of one of the country's most feared men.
 
Altaf Hussain, leader of the powerful Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) party and wanted in Pakistan in relation to a murder case, was arrested in northwest London where he has lived in self-imposed exile since the early 1990s.
 
Karachi, a sprawling and violent port city of 18 million, is virtually controlled by Hussain's party, and reports of sporadic violence emerged as soon as news of his arrest reached the city.
 
On Wednesday, about 2,000 of his supporters rallied in the center in support of Hussain but elsewhere the city was in lockdown, with markets and petrol stations closed and its usually chaotic and bustling streets empty of traffic.
 
“The people of Karachi and other big and small cities of Sindh [province] still see Altaf Hussain as their leader,” Nasir Jamal, a senior MQM official, told Reuters.
 
“The thrust of this protest is the release of Altaf Hussain. We are here until we see positive indications from London.”
 
Karachi shut down

The largely peaceful crowd sporadically burst into loud chants of slogans in support of Hussain. “Long live Altaf!” and “Even after death Altaf will continue to live!” shouted his supporters.
 
The ability of Hussain's supporters to shut down Pakistan's commercial hub for two days underscores his influence and many fear that riots might still erupt. But as of Wednesday evening no major acts of violence had been reported.
 
The cost of the shutdown will also weigh heavily on a city already beset by daily violence and feudal spats between its many ethnic and political groups.
 
A spokesman for London police said Hussain remained in custody where he is being questioned on suspicion of money laundering. “By this evening we will probably know if he's going to be charged or released,” the spokesman said.
 
The MQM party's support base is millions of Muslim Urdu-speaking people whose families migrated to Karachi and nearby areas at the time of the 1947 partition of India.
 
Hussain fled to London in 1992 and obtained British citizenship a decade later. He continued to exert control over Karachi from his north London headquarters and remains one of Pakistan's most feared and divisive figures.
 
He is known for his fiery addresses to his supporters in Karachi though a loudspeaker connected to a telephone in his London home. His hold on Karachi is so strong that he is capable of shutting down entire neighborhoods.
 
But his arrest poses broader risks for the party, whose influence has already been diluted in recent years by the influx of other ethnic groups to Karachi including Taliban-linked Pashtun warlords.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs