Saturday Dec 03, 2022
LONDON: MQM founder Altaf Hussain's loyalists have told the court that they recycled the BT recording system that recorded all incoming and outgoing calls at the MQM International Secretariat in Edgware by mistake.
Founder MQM-P Altaf Hussain's allies and MQM-London's Rabita Committee members Mustafa Ali and Qasim Ali Raza appeared before the Insolvency and Companies Court (ICC) Judge Clive Jones to record their witness statements in support of Altaf Hussain.
Earlier, the MQM-P's witnesses, Dr Farooq Sattar, Nadeem Nusrat, Waseem Akhtar and Syed Aminul Haque had recorded their witness statements before the Properties and Business Division of the High Court.
Mustafa Azizabadi and Qasim Ali Raza were cross-examined about the 2015 constitution, the loss of the BT recording system, and the UPS from the MQM-London office in April this year.
The MQM lawyer asked Altaf Hussain loyalists if they had deliberately destroyed the key evidence ahead of the trial – knowing the MQM-Pakistan asked them to produce any audio, written or video evidence supporting the MQM-London's claim that Altaf Hussain had assented to the 2015 constitution of the party.
Mustafa Azizabadi and Qasim Ali Raza said that the 2015 constitution, approved on 21st October 2015, is the only valid and effective constitution of MQM. Not the end-August 2016 constitution in which Dr Farooq Sattar removed Altaf Hussain as the party chief and took over his authority.
However, MQM-Pakistan claims Dr Farooq Sattar did so because Altaf Hussain mandated him to do so when he agreed in writing after the 22nd August 2016 speech that he was handing over affairs of the party to MQM-Pakistan and that the party would be run from Karachi.
Mustafa Azizabadi told the judge that he, Qasim Ali Raza and former MPA Suffyan Yousuf discarded the BT recorder system along with over a dozen UPS after the Scotland Yard returned these devices to the MQM in April this year after closing all investigations into money laundering, Imran Farooq and the hate speech cases.
He said he came to know first that the recording system had a full system when the police told them – after arresting Altaf Hussain in 2019 over the hate speech charges – that they had a transcript of a conversation between Altaf Hussain and Hussain Haqqani, the former Pakistan ambassador to the USA.
Azizabadi and Qasim Ali both stressed that they didn't destroy the gadgets deliberately and were not aware that they could be used for a full spectrum recording system.
Azizabadi told the court that he and others understood that Hussain was taking only a break from party affairs to focus on his health issues. Adding that he is witness to a telephonic conversation in October 2015 during which the 2015 constitution was approved.
Questioned why the MQM didn't register this constitution with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), Azizabadi told the court “it was the responsibility of Dr Farooq Sattar to submit the approved 2015 constitution to the ECP”.
The court had earlier ordered the MQM-London to explain “what searches they have carried out to identify the recording tapes which record the incoming and outgoing telephone calls from MQM's London office at 1st Floor Elizabeth House during the period 21-22 October 2015” and explain the position if no recording tapes have been found”.
The issue about the 2015 constitution is when Altaf Hussain gave his assent for the apparent approval, the claimant's lawyer demanded the recording tapes confirm if Altaf indeed did give his assent. MQM London had always recorded every incoming and outgoing call from their offices since 1992, so something this important must have been recorded.
The claim and defence revolve around MQM's constitution. The MQM-Pakistan says it's the real and only MQM which is the continuation of the MQM that existed on 22nd August 2016 and onwards after the MQM in Pakistan separated ways from Altaf Hussain in London.
The MQM-Pakistan says that it is governed by the original party constitution of 2012, which empowered Altaf Hussain but was amended in August 2016 to disempower Altaf Hussain. The MQM-Pakistan says it amended the constitution on 31st August 2016, removing the powers of Altaf Hussain and that the MQM-Pakistan didn't need Altaf Hussain's approval under 9-B as the two-thirds majority approved it.
The first part of the trial will continue sometime in January or February next year. The first part was scheduled to last for a week but the lawyers couldn't finish the examination of witnesses in the agreed five days.