KARACHI: A heavy contingent of Rangers raided Nine Zero, the headquarters of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in Karachi’s Azizabad neighbourhood on Wednesday morning, prompting a protest by party activists and a subsequent call for a day of “peaceful mourning”.
According to sources, a number of party workers including Member of MQM’s Rabita Committee Amir Khan were detained during the raid. Rabita Committee is MQM’s central coordination cell.
Rangers personnel after breaking barricades leading to MQM headquarters cordoned off the area and searched through departments of the party’s offices .They also raided adjoining houses and arrested a number of MQM activists and leaders.
Speaking to media, Col Tahir called the two hour raid a “purely information-based operation” and divulged that the Khursheed Memorial Hall at Nine Zero has been sealed and will be handed over to police for further investigation
During the raid, the Rangers cut off the telephone lines at Nine Zero, disabling communication with MQM’s international secretariat
Party leader Haider Abbas Rizvi, who is in Islamabad, confirmed the raid to Dawn.com and said that communication with party workers at the headquarters could not be established during the raid.
Rizvi maintained that all the weapons seized by Rangers are licensed.
Rangers spokesperson Col Tahir said the raid lasted for two hours. -DawnNews screengrab
MQM representative Mustafa Aziz Abadi told DawnNews that the raid is an attempt to provoke the public and that treatment of this sort with a loyal party like MQM is inappropriate.
He demanded of the prime minister, Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar and Governor Sindh Ishratul Ibad to play their due roles.
Sattar also warned that the situation could be a setback to the enhancement of democratic process.
Scores of activists and party members protested the raid by Rangers by chanting slogans.
MQM announced a day of peaceful protest against the search operation by Rangers and urged for transport services to be suspended throughout the day.
The incident has emerged on a day when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif himself is due to visit the metropolitan today.
According to Rangers spokerperson Colonel Tahir, ammunition stolen from Nato containers was also seized during the search operation at Nine Zero.
Rangers officials say ammunition seized from Nine Zero was stolen from Nato containers. -DawnNews screengrab
Soon after the news of the search operation broke, MQM leaders and activists started to gather outside the headquarters but were not allowed to enter its premises.
Speaking to DawnNews, MQM prominent leader Farooq Sattar termed the raid deeply upsetting and worth investigation. He said that MQM is compliant of all laws and instead of appreciating the party’s efforts of promoting peace, it is being treated with contempt.
Petrol pumps and private schools in several areas of Karachi have reportedly been shut down as activists in large numbers protested against the Rangers.
Examinations in Karachi University have also been postponed.
Business centres and gas stations Hyderabad, Nawabshah, Jamshoro and Mirpur Khas were also shut down.
Courtesy by Dawn.com