Muttahida Quami Movement hits back on allegation of RAW links

BBC report claimed Pak party received funds from India; ‘Report was planted by Pak army to defame us’

London-based leaders of the Muttahida Quami Movement, a major Pakistani political party now under fire for allegedly receiving payoffs from the Research and Analysis Wing, have denied having links with India’s covert service. “The allegations are utterly baseless, and have been planted by the Pakistan army to defame us”, said Muhammad Anwar, the top leader of the MQM’s London secretariat, in an exclusive interview to The Indian Express. The BBC had reported, on Wednesday, that investigators in the United Kingdom had conducted recorded “interviews with senior MQM officials who told them the party was receiving Indian funding”. The BBC attributed its report to information to “an authoritative Pakistani source”. 

Even as the report generated furious reactions from political groups in Pakistan, the BBC shut down its office in Karachi, fearing attack from the MQM — a party that represents the Mohajirs, or Partition migrants from India, and has been linked to gangworld violence in the city. “For reasons I do not understand”, Anwar said, “the BBC has chosen not to reveal who is alleged to have received the money, from whom or when—questions I expect it asked its sources. The police have interviewed more than 4,000 individuals on this matter, so the key question is whether the allegation was credible. I very much doubt it”. The allegations related to an estimated £500,000 found by police from the home of the MQM’s London-based chief, Altaf Husain, and the party’s office. 

The recovery was made during investigations into the murder of party leader Imran Farooq, stabbed to death outside his London home in 2010. Earlier this month, Karachi Senior Superintendent of Police Malir Rao Anwar had alleged that two Karachi-based MQM activists, Tahir Rehman ‘Lamba’ and Muhammad Junaid Khan, had received funds and military training from RAW. The allegation came amidst months of charges by Pakistan’s army of Indian involvement in fueling terrorism in the country. Anwar, named by the Karachi Police as having facilitated the training, said the allegations were “utterly dishonest”. 

“The establishment in Pakistan wants to wipe us out”, he said, “and to rule Karachi through its jihadist proxies. This is part of an effort to legitimise extra-judicial execution and torture of MQM workers”. Karachi Police records obtained by The Indian Express show Rehman had told police that he had been despatched to India for training by the MQM in 2006, after years of serving as a party hit-man in the city. 

The MQM’s London secretariat, the police claim, arranged for Rehman to travel to New Delhi through Bangkok, where he was provided with a legitimate Indian visa. The police records state that Rehman was hosted by two individuals he identified as Javed ‘Langda’ and Tariq Zaidi both allegedly MQM operatives, who had relocated to India in 1992, and had begun living in Okhla under RAW protection. Based on the limited information in the Karachi Police documents, The Indian Express was unable to locate either individual, in spite of extensive enquiries with local police and community leaders. Following several days spent at a farmhouse outside New Delhi, Rehman was allegedly sent to Dehradun to train under the supervision of a military officer he identified only by the single name “Ram”. The training, the Karachi Police records state, included fabricating improvised explosive devices and firearms use. 

Then, the documents state, he returned to Pakistan, with RAW assisting his infiltration through the India-Pakistan frontier in Kashmir. Indian intelligence officials declined comment on-record, but pointed to several apparent mysteries in the Karachi Police account. “Even RAW’s worst detractors wouldn’t think its stupid enough to bring in potential terrorists it is training on legitimate passports and visas”, one noted. “Its also not clear to me why, having brought in people legitimately, it would then exfiltrate them through Kashmir”. New Delhi immigration authorities said it was not immediately possible to know if records existed for the entry of any of the individuals named in the records into the country. 

However, an official said, “a lot of mohajirs come to visit their families here every year, and some disappear off the map, chosing to stay on rather than return to war-torn Karachi.” Evidence exists that India did indeed fund elements in Pakistan to stage attacks in the 1980s and early 1990s, as retaliation against Islamabad’s sponsorship of the Khalistan terrorists. “The role of our covert action capability in putting an end to the ISI’s interference in Punjab by making such interference prohibitively costly is little known”, the former RAW officer B Raman wrote in 2002. 

In 1994, Raman wrote, former Indian Ambassador to the United States Siddharth Shankar Ray reported to Prime Minister Narasimha Rao that if RAW “did not stop what the State Department described as its covert actions in Pakistan, the US might be constrained to act against Pakistan AND India for indulging in acts of terrorism against each other”. Prime Minister IK Gujral is believed to have subsequently closed down two RAW covert action units, CIT-X and CIT J. The Karachi Police records, if true, would suggest India later resumed support for terrorism in Pakistan — a charge New Delhi has denied at the highest levels. 



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