Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Rangers did not force me to expel Altaf Hussain, Farooq Sattar tells UK court

Dr Farooq Sattar gives evidence before UK court against Altaf Hussain

Former MQM Convener Farooq Sattar addressing a press conference in this undated photo. — PPI/File
Former MQM Convener Farooq Sattar addressing a press conference in this undated photo. — PPI/File

  • Dr Farooq Sattar gives evidence before UK court against Altaf Hussain.
  • MQM-P is battling claim over control of seven trust properties.
  • Dr Sattar has been a strong critic of MQM-P but in courtroom he defends action taken against Altaf Hussain.

LONDON: Former Convener of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Dr Farooq Sattar told a UK court that the rangers arrested him soon after Altaf Hussain’s August 22, 2016 speech and stopped him from doing a press conference but allowed him to do it the next day, after he had spent a night in the custody, to announce separation from party founder.

Dr Sattar was giving evidence before the Properties and Business Division of the High Court against the party’s founder who is battling a claim from the MQM-Pakistan over the control of seven trust properties worth over £10 million.

The Insolvency and Companies Court (ICC) Judge Clive Jones heard from Dr Sattar what happened on the day the MQM leader made the controversial speech, actions by Rangers, Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui’s interview to Geo News, commotion in Karachi and how he used his powers to expel Hussain from the party.

Hussain’s lawyer Richard Slade KC cross-examined Dr Sattar for the entire second day of the trial as the former MQM leader appeared before the court to support MQM-P’s claim against party founder. 

Dr Sattar has been a strong critic of MQM-Pakistan over how he was treated but in the courtroom he defended every action taken against Hussain by the party.

Pakistan's Information Technology and Telecommunication Minister Aminul Haque has brought the case against Altaf Hussain to gain control of the seven properties. The properties include Abbey View in Mill Hill where Altaf Hussain resides; 1 High View Gardens in Edgware which is on rent; 5 High View Gardens in Edgware; 185 Whitchurch Lane in Edgware; 221 Whitchurch Lane in Edgware; 53 Brookfield Avenue in Mill Hill and 1st Floor Elizabeth House in Edgware which used to be the MQM’s International Secretariat.

The MQM-Pakistan has asked the UK High Court to give control of these properties to MQM-Pakistan as Altaf Hussain is no more eligible to control these trust properties after the MQM was taken over by Pakistan chapter of the MQM.

It was Dr Farooq Sattar who led MQM in Pakistan on behalf of Altaf Hussain and Nadeem Nusrat was convener of the party from London. Both have decided to give their evidence against Hussain, and in support of MQM-Pakistan. Farooq Sattar gave evidence online from his Karachi home via video link.

Altaf Hussain with co-defendants and witnesses (Iftikhar Hussain, Qasim Ali Raza, Iqbal Hussain, Musatafa Azizabadi) and his supporters sat in the court room looking in disbelief at some of the things Dr Farooq Sattar said. Altaf Hussain’s lawyer set out to inform the court that led by Dr Farooq Sattar and others in the MQM-Pakistan, Altaf Hussain was removed from the party and excluded in a choreographed manner, depriving him of his position and influence that he exercised as a leader, ideologue and founder of the party.

The King’s Counsel suggested to Farooq Sattar that he started working against the party’s founder only after he was taken away by the Rangers soon after Altaf Hussain’s 22nd August speech and that he was threatened and put under pressure to distance himself and MQM from Altaf Hussain and his colleagues in London.

Dr Farooq Sattar denied the conspiracy and said it was a unanimous decision of the MQM in Karachi to take control of the party to stop further damage to the party. The lawyer kept suggesting to Farooq Sattar that he had buckled under pressure from the state and agreed to act against the party in an illegal and unethical manner. Farooq Sattar denied and said the steps he took had support of the party and the workers.

However, he struggled throughout to explain to the court how he set out to disempower Altaf Hussain and cut him off after spending just one night in the custody of Rangers – the famous Mr Thaakur episode that saw a heavily-built and moustached Rangers officer stopping a thinly-built Sattar from holding a media talk at Karachi Press Club.

Farooq Sattar accepted that he held talks with his London counterpart Nadeem Nusrat on 23rd of August – the defence lawyer said Sattar spoke to him on 22nd as well but Sattar kept denying – and they agreed on joint steps including airing of an apology by Hussain over his speech. When asked what he discussed with Rangers officials or what Rangers ordered him to do during his overnight custody,

Sattar said the Rangers wanted to know who were the persons at the protest who had chanted controversial slogans and nothing more. “The Rangers wanted to see who was supporting Altaf Hussain and who responded to Hussain’s slogans.

They wanted to identify a few people,” Farooq Sattar said under cross-examination. As he said this, MQM supporters accompanying Altaf in the courtroom chuckled. Did the Rangers ask you to expel Altaf Hussain, asked the defence lawyer. Farooq Sattar replied: ”It was entirely my will to remove Altaf Hussain from the party.”Farooq Sattar accepted that he didn’t seek approval from Altaf Hussain of MQM-London before conducting proceedings at Avari Hotel where Sattar announced that the MQM’s matters will be handled in Pakistan only and all decisions will be made in Pakistan and not in London and that Altaf Hussain, the party ideologue, will meanwhile focus on his health only.

Farooq Sattar agreed that during his talks with Nadeem Nusrat, he didn’t indicate that he was going to remove Altaf Hussain or that he would actually separate and split the party. MQM sources say it was agreed between London and Pakistan that MQM-Pakistan will run the matters for some time until Hussain’s health improved and things calmed down a bit.

Farooq Sattar said he didn’t need Hussain’s approval and didn’t break any laws because Hussain himself announced in a press statement that he was giving control to MQM leadership in Karachi. The claim and defence revolve around MQM’s constitution.

The MQM-Pakistan says it’s the real and only MQM which is continuation of the MQM that existed on 22nd August 2016 and onwards after MQM in Pakistan separated ways from Altaf Hussain in London. The MQM-Pakistan says that its governed by the original party constitution of 2012, which empowered Altaf Hussain but which was amended in August 2016 to disempower Altaf Hussain.

The MQM-Pakistan says it amended the constitution on 31st August 2016, removing powers of Altaf Hussain and that the MQM-Pakistan didn’t need Altaf Hussain’s approval under 9-B as the two-third majority approved it. The MQM-Altaf or MQM-London says it’s the only original MQM led by the founder and leader Altaf Hussain. It says that its governed by a constitution which was drafted on 21st October 2015 by Senator Syed Ahmed.

The MQM-London says there were several versions of this constitution but there was one which was finally adopted and approved by the Rabita Committee on 22ndst October 2016. The MQM-London says it was approved by Altaf Hussain. The trial continues and Nadeem Nusrat and Syed Aminul Haque will give evidence on Wednesday.

Originally published in The News