KARACHI: British High Commission issued a post press conference clarification regarding British Deputy High Commissioner’s Comments on Mutahidda Qaumi Movement Chief Altaf Hussain. Mutahidda Qaumi Movement is protesting at Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) demanding Re-Election at NA-250 in Karachi, however Deputy High Commissioners statement regarding investigation against MQM Chief Altaf Hussain had sent a new wave of unrest.
QUESTION: There are a lot of concerns in Pakistan about the recent statement of MQM Chief Altaf Hussain. Do you really think that he is breaching the code of conduct or the laws in the UK by threatening the media? Moreover, why British Government is reluctant to hand over MQM Chief despite cooperation and support claims?
High Commission (HC): Of course we are well aware of Altaf Hussain’s remarks immediately after the election. We received quite a number of representations on them. More to the point, the London Metropolitan Police have been flooded with complaints from both Pakistani and British citizens about those remarks. What we say is that wherever somebody has a concern that hatred or violence is being incited, that one community or another is being turned against others, this should be reported to the police. And I know that they take such allegations very, very seriously indeed. As far as handing over an individual is concerned. Well you have to go through the whole extradition process for that. And as you know, that is complicated in the UK Pakistan case as there is no extradition treaty. It doesn’t make it impossible, but it does make it quite difficult.
QUESTION: Altaf Hussain has very clearly threatened to disintegrate Pakistan. He has threatened that Karachi should be separated; you must have seen in media reports. How do you view him as a British national that he has threatened to disintegrate Pakistan. And secondly, how do you compare the results of Karachi with the KPK?
HC: Is there another question on that or is that it? Ok! That’s it. I think the first thing I have to say is that I understand that Altaf Hussain said that he has not said these remarks and that they have been miss-understood in some way. It may be that they were never said or they have been retracted. But as far as the United Kingdom is concerned, we have very strong laws – which are enforced on – that prohibit the incitement to violence or incitement of hatred. And we take these laws seriously. I won’t personalize it. But I repeat, where people have evidence that there has been a violation of our law, they are encouraged to report to the police. They do investigate seriously and on every occasion they have to make a judgment about whether they can bring a successful prosecution or not.
QUESTION: So in this matter will this also be investigated?
HC: In this case the police have received a large number of complaints. It is for them and not for the British High Commission, or the British High Commissioner, to say what they will do next.
QUESTION: Pakistan has always extended support to the UK, for example during the 7/11 and may be other incidents. As far as Altaf Hussain statement is concerned, it is more, more and far more dangerous than any terrorist attack. As you know he talked about the disintegration of Pakistan, so why you are hesitating to give a clear statement and what action you are going to take and why you are not going to take any action? You have evidence, (as it was) on aired by every TV channel which is something very serious.
HC: Three points. The first thing is clearly statements like this have to be taken seriously. Alright! The second thing is, is that unlike some countries in the world, the British police are fiercely independent of British government. And it is for the British police to investigate allegations of incitement to violence or incitement to hatred. And to make a judgment on whether they can bring a successful prosecution. My third point, slightly off the point, but forgive me, is that Altaf Hussain has apparently retracted or denied his statement. So he is not as I understand it maintaining a position that he is definitely going to disintegrate. But I don’t want to quibble. I repeat my first point which is that such statements are taken very seriously. My third point was really that now please don’t underestimate the threat to the integrity of the state of Pakistan from terrorism. As well as from politicians. Terrorism is also a grave threat.