ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan revealed on Tuesday that the government was examining legal possibilities of getting MQM chief Altaf Hussain extradited, and said that a decision on the matter might be reached over the next few days.
The minister confirmed that he had discussed the FIR registered against Mr Hussain over threats to Rangers personnel, allegedly hurled during an interview with a private TV channel, with British High Commissioner Philip Barton, adding that this was not a secret.
He told reporters that he had asked the high commissioner what British law said about threats made by individuals residing in British territory, but denied handing over any documents to Mr Barton, who is currently in the UK.
The minister said that the MQM should continue as a political entity, since it had a large number of patriotic voters. Asked to comment on the complicated nature of the government’s relationship with the Muttahida, he said that the operation in Karachi had nothing to do with that party and that the action aimed to end crime in the city.
He recalled that security agencies had been given a specific mandate in Sept 2013 by all political parties. He said that MQM leader Farooq Sattar had proposed on Aug 27 that Karachi be handed over to the army, adding that the very next day he (Nisar) had promised action by civil armed forces on Muttahida’s request.
Replying to another question, he said the option to impose governor’s rule in Sindh was not on the table. The minister initially refused to comment on reports that Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad was on his way out and governor’s rule would be imposed in Sindh. “How can I comment on something that is not on the table,” he remarked after a brief pause.
Minister denies plan to impose governor’s rule in Sindh
He rejected the accusation that the execution of Saulat Mirza – convicted for killing former KESC managing director Shahid Hamid – had been put off to push the MQM against the wall.
He said that initially the execution was delayed for 72 hours at the request of Balochistan government. Alluding towards Saulat Mirza’s mysterious interview where he admitted to killing Mr Hamid on the orders of Altaf Hussain, the minister said that security agencies thought the statement should be investigated further.
He said a summary proposing a three-month delay in the date of his execution was sent to the president through the prime minister. “We have received a communication from the Prime Minister’s Office, asking about the next execution date and today we responded to it, informing that it is April 1.”
The interior minister said it was the discretion of the president to approve a delay and brushed aside an impression that the law had been broken in trying to put off the execution.
Asked how the interview of a death row prisoner had been obtained and where and when it was carried out, the minister said that an inquiry to this effect was currently under way.
He denied that names of MQM leaders had been placed on the Exit Control List in the light of Saulat Mirza’s statement and said that a new ECL policy would be introduced next week, setting a maximum limit of three years for a name to remain on the list.
The minister also said that the provinces had so far sent 50 terrorism cases for trial by military courts. He said that nine military courts had far been set up and an open and transparent system was in place to decide what case should go to the military courts.
He also said that reports about Mullah Fazlullah’s death in Tirah Valley were not confirmed.