Tuesday Nov 29, 2022
LONDON: A judge at the UK High Court wondered which Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) was the real party as the trial opened here, brought by breakaway MQM-P against party founder and leader Altaf Hussain in order to snatch from him seven expensive London properties.
Sitting at the Properties and Business Division of the High Court, Insolvency and Companies Court (ICC) Judge Mr Clive Jones asked lawyers as to which MQM was the real one and which faction was against whom. The judge wondered why the breakaway MQM-Pakistan, claimant in the case against Altaf Hussain, had not sued the party controlled and run by the Muttahida founder in London.
The MQM-Pakistan’s Syed Aminul Haque on his party's behalf has brought the case against the Hussain to gain control of the following properties: Abbey View in Mill Hill where Altaf Hussain resides; 1 High View Gardens in Edgware which is on rent; 5 High View Gardens (where Iftikhar Hussain lives) in Edgware; 185 Whitchurch Lane in Edgware which is being used by MQM-London; 221 Whitchurch Lane in Edgware; 53 Brookfield Avenue in Mill Hill) which was sold by Altaf Hussain and Tariq Mir and the proceeds of the sale are also demanded in this claim) and 1st Floor Elizabeth House in Edgware which used to be the MQM’s International Secretariat.
Justice Jones indicated that he may adjourn the trial if several preliminary issues are not resolved. Opening the case for MQM-Pakistan, Barrister Nazar Mohammed told the court that not Altaf Hussain but his client was at all material times the beneficiary of the seven trusts and the party founder and other defendants were and are trustees of seven separate trusts set up for the benefit of the party.
The lawyer told the court that the MQM-Pakistan, by a consensus of a majority of its leadership in 2016, elected that it should adopt a new constitution and renamed itself as the “Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan” after Hussain’s August 16 speech which led to the disintegration of the party into several groupings.
He told the court that Hussain’s “hate speech”— for which he was acquitted by the Crown last year — led to revulsion against the founder and he lost control of the party and he was expelled as a member and de facto leader and thus MQM no more belonged to him and therefore the properties held under trusts ceased to belong to him.
The MQM-Pakistan has claimed in the court that once removed from the membership and de facto leadership in August, 2016, Hussain set up a new splinter group called MQM-London which is not a registered political party in Pakistan and is not affiliated with the party in any way.
The MQM-Pakistan’s case is that MQM-London is beyond the remit of the party constitution and lacks any relevant legal basis that membership of London faction appears to be limited to Hussain’s coterie and therefore the real ultimate beneficiary of the seven properties is MQM-Pakistan, the real MQM.
Hussain’s lawyer Richard Slade KC will open defence once the claimant’s evidence is complete and he will deny each and every claim of MQM-Pakistan against its founder but the opening day heard from Barrister Nazar Mohammad what the full claim and case of MQM-Pakistan was.
He told the court that MQM-London destroyed BT digital recording system ahead of the trial because there were recordings in the system — incoming and outgoing — which recorded every conversation of Hussain and his associates including a conversation with Hussain Haqqani where he allegedly talked about giving control of the party to MQM-Pakistan.
The MQM-London says that Rabita Committee on Oct 21 2015 discussed the constitution and adopted it and on October 22 following Hussain's approval. Hussain’s lawyer will rely on this account as evidence of having a constitution that gives control of the party to him, long before the event of August 16, 2016.
Hussain’s lawyer will argue that some tapes were destroyed because they were of no use and were redundant after being returned to the MQM by the crown prosecution service. The MQM-Pakistan alleges that the destruction of the BT Recording machine was deliberate.
Speaking outside the court at the end of the first trial day, Hussain said he had full faith in the British justice system. He condemned MQM-Pakistan leadership for launching case against him to deprive him of these properties. He said he had left it to the Muhajirs community and “haq parest Pakistanis” to give a judgment on the actions of MQM-Pakistan.
He said that the people of Karachi hated MQM-Pakistan and they spoke against MQM-Pakistan by boycotting and refusing to vote against the MQM-P candidates. He said the Muhajir community will boycott MQM-P again in the upcoming general elections to express their anger at them.
Altaf Hussain said he was prepared for any consequences. “I will not surrender and will not retreat,” said the MQM founder and leader.
Originally published in The News