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Indian funding for Pakistan’s MQM party?

ALLEGATIONS: India has denied working with MQM party leader Altaf Hussain and states that the allegations are completely baseless

ALLEGATIONS: India has denied working with MQM party leader Altaf Hussain and states that the allegations are completely baseless

An authoritative Pakistani source has told UK authorities that officials in Pakistan's MQM party received Indian government funds.

Allegedly the source has said that India has trained hundreds of Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) militants in explosives, weapons and sabotage over the last 10 years in camps in north and north-east India over the last 10 years.

British authorities held formal recorded interviews with senior MQM officials who told them the party was receiving Indian funding.

Before 2005-2006 the training was given to a small number of mid-ranking members of the MQM, the official said.

More recently greater numbers of more junior party members have been trained.

The claims follow the statement of a senior Karachi police officer that two arrested MQM militants said they had been trained in India. In April Rao Anwar gave details of how the two men went to India via Thailand to be trained by the Indian intelligence agency RAW.

In response MQM leader Altaf Hussain issued a tirade of abuse at Mr Anwar.

Asked about the claims of Indian funding and training of the MQM, the Indian High Commission in London said: “Shortcomings of governance cannot be rationalised by blaming neighbours.”

The UK authorities started investigating the MQM in 2010 when a senior party leader, Imran Farooq, was stabbed to death outside his home in north London.

With 24 members in the National Assembly, the MQM has long been a dominant force in the politics of Pakistan's largest city, Karachi.

UK authorities investigating the MQM for alleged money laundering also found a list of weapons in an MQM property.

In the course of the inquiries the UK authorities found a list itemising weapons, including mortars, grenades and bomb-making equipment in an MQM property. The list included prices for the weapons. Asked about the list, the MQM made no response.

As the UK police investigations have progressed, the British judiciary has been taking an increasingly tough line on the MQM. Back in 2011 a British judge adjudicating an asylum appeal case found that ‘the MQM has killed over 200 police officers who have stood up against them in Karachi’.

Last year another British judge hearing another such case found: “There is overwhelming objective evidence that the MQM for decades had been using violence.”

The MQM is also under pressure in Pakistan. In March the country's security forces raided the party's Karachi headquarters. They claimed to have found a significant number of weapons there. The MQM said they were planted.

Altaf Husain has lived in self-imposed exile in the UK for more than 20 years. He was given a British passport in 2002. For many years the party has been accused of using violence to impose its will in Karachi.

To date a number of MQM officials, including Altaf Hussain, have been arrested in relation to the money-laundering case but no-one has been charged. The party insists that all its funds are legitimate and that most of them come from donors in the business community in Karachi.

India has long accused Pakistani officials of involvement in sponsoring militant attacks in India. Delhi, for example, has demanded that Pakistan take firmer action against those suspected of plotting and managing the Mumbai attacks of 2008.

The latest developments in the MQM case suggest that Pakistan will now counter such complaints with demands that India stop sponsoring violent forces in Karachi.

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