I was under severe mental stress: Altaf apologises to military for anti-Pakistan remarks

LONDON: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain on Tuesday apologised to Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif and Director General (DG) Rangers Maj-Gen Bilal Akber for his vitriolic speech a day earlier in which he referred to Pakistan as “a cancer for entire world”.

“From the depth of heart, I beg pardon from my remarks against Pakistan, the establishment including Gen Raheel Sharif and DG Rangers,” he said in a statement shared on Twitter by MQM spokesperson Wasay Jalil.

“I was under severe mental stress over extra-judicial arrests and precarious condition of my workers sitting at the hunger strike camp.”

Parts of the speech that went viral on social media showed that while addressing MQM workers protesting outside the Karachi Press Club against “enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings”, Hussain not only raised slogans against Pakistan but also called the country “a cancer for [the] entire world”.

“Being a Pakistani, I assure the Pakistani people, establishment, army, ISI, all higher authorities and leaders that I will never use such words again,” said the MQM supremo.

He urged the authorities to “end all steps taken against MQM”.

“For God’s sake, don’t cut MQM from the national mainstream.”

Hussain also regretted the violence against media houses that were attacked in the aftermath of his speech and asked for the release of MQM leaders who were later arrested.

MQM leader Syed Ali Raza Abidi had hinted in a Tweet that the people who resorted to violence were not party activists but had been “sent for a purpose”.

At least one person died and a dozen others were wounded in an attack reminiscent of the May 12 assault on a private channel, drawing condemnation along with directives for immediate arrest of culprits from the army chief.

Nisar phones British officials

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar on Tuesday contacted British authorities to condemn the use of foreign soil to facilitate ‘anti-Pakistan’ activities,BBC Urdu reported.

Expressing his concern on the MQM supremo’s speech on Monday, the interior minister conveyed to British officials that involvement in Pakistani matters by Hussain, who is a British citizen, will not be tolerated in any condition.

He asked the British government to cooperate with Pakistan in delivering justice to those involved in the ‘serious crime’.

Cases registered against MQM

Two cases were registered against the MQM in Lahore and another two in Karachi.

The Pakistan Justice Party (PJP) submitted an application at Lahore’s Anarkali police station against MQM chief Altaf Hussain and other party members, including Dr. Farooq Sattar, Dr. Aamir Liaquat Hussain, Amir Khan and Izharul Hassan.

The PJP’s application accused them of treason and violating the law and constitution by chanting anti-Pakistan slogans, incitement to violence, spreading chaos, attacking TV channels, burning vehicles, and spreading terror.

A similar application was filed in Rawalpindi at Civil Lines police station by Advocate Raja Mohammed Rizwan Charagh.

No cases have been filed in Islamabad against the party or its leader yet.

With additional reporting from Haseeb Bhatti from Rawalpindi, Ishaq Tanoli from Karachi, Shakeel Qarar from Islamabad and Imran Gabol from Lahore.

Apple boosts health while Microsoft revs machine smarts

SAN FRANCISCO: Microsoft on Monday announced it bought a startup to boost its artificial intelligence capabilities, and rival Apple confirmed it has boosted its health focus with an acquisition of its own.

Microsoft did not disclose financial terms of its deal to buy Genee, which specialises in using machine smarts to handle the time-sucking task of scheduling meetings.

“Genee uses natural language processing and optimised decision-making algorithms so that interacting with a virtual assistant is just like interacting with a human one,” Outlook and Office 365 corporate vice president Rajesh Jha said in a blog post.

For example, Genee can be copied into an email exchange to act as a virtual assistant of sorts to pin down a time for a business or social meeting.

Jha touted Genee as having designed “an intelligent virtual assistant specialised in the appointment decision.” The technology was expected to be put to work in Office 365 software that Microsoft offers as a service in the internet cloud.

The team that started Silicon Valley-based Genee in 2014 will join the Microsoft and the existing service will be discontinued next month, according to the companies.

Apple confirmed press reports that it has bought startup Gliimpse, which uses machine learning as part of its formula for letting people secure, manage and share personal medical information.

“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” Apple said in a statement.

Gliimpse offers a unique platform allowing users to compile medical and health data from different sources, and share as needed with third parties, including doctors.

“We’ve built a magical machine,” Gliimpse said on its website.

“It takes incomprehensible electronic medical records and turns them into understandable, standardised, coded elements and terminology that both humans and machines can easily understand and use.” Apple has introduced features and software platforms for its mobile devices to be tools for people to manage and improve fitness and health.

MQM should operate from Pakistan alone: Farooq Sattar

KARACHI: Senior Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Farooq Sattar for the first time has said that his party should operate from Pakistan alone, an apparent reference to the leadership of MQM under Altaf Hussain who controls the party from London.

While speaking at Karachi Press Club on Tuesday, Sattar accepted that “there is a problem” and that Hussain’s frequent apologies after incendiary statements is an issue that needs to be resolved. The press conference was held a day after protesters, alleged to be MQM workers, attacked the office of ARY News.

“The MQM should operate from Pakistan alone,” Sattar said.

Referring to Hussain’s apology statement issued earlier today, Sattar said: “If such statements are a result of mental stress, then that mental stress needs to be resolved first. It would be better for MQM to operate from Pakistan until Altaf Hussain’s health issues are not resolved, as such statements push MQM into confinement.

“Altaf Hussain and the entire party are being ridiculed due to these statements.”

“Whatever the reason given for these statements, it keeps happening and it is important to address this issue as well,” he admitted.

“We own that there is a problem, and Altaf Hussain keeps asking for forgiveness. Until this issue is addressed, we’ve decided that sanity should prevail,” Sattar said.

Amir Liaquat addresses press conference. ─ DawnNews
Amir Liaquat addresses press conference.

When questioned about whether the MQM supremo would continue to use the party platform for speeches, Sattar said: “We cannot provide any more clarity on this. It is the MQM’s policy from day one to condemn violence and torture.”

Dr Amir Liaquat who was also taken into Rangers custody Monday spoke to journalists saying, “We cannot take the weight of statements that pose a question regarding the sacrifices we have made for Pakistan.”

Sattar condems attack on media

Sattar also denounced anti-Pakistan slogans chanted during an attack on ARY News’ Karachi office a day earlier.

“Every MQM worker, leader, voter and well-wisher denounces these anti-Pakistan slogans,” Sattar said. “We will not allow this to happen again.”

“We totally disassociate ourselves from the violence that took place in Karachi yesterday. It is totally against our policy to use violence to achieve our ends.”

“There is no room for any militants or any militants’ wing.”

“We were not expecting that the situation [attack on ARY News] would unfold in such a manner. Certain things were said that shouldn’t have been said,” Sattar said. “Anti-Pakistan slogans should not have been chanted.”

“I would like to categorically state that MQM is Pakistan. The MQM is registered in Pakistan and recognises the laws and Constitution of Pakistan.”

“We were with our friends, the Rangers, for eight hours… It should be clear that we are not speaking under the influence of anyone else… Everything I say is in line with MQM’s policy.”

“Our offices should be allowed to reopen,” Sattar said.

The press conference is being held at KPC instead of MQM headquarters Nine Zero, which were sealed by the Rangers Monday night.

Speaking to local TV channels before the press conference, Sattar said, “We will take the MQM’s mission forward and continue to empower citizens… I will hold the press conference I was unable to hold yesterday today.”

MQM leaders Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Shaikh Salahuddin, Nighat Shakeel, Waqar Hussain, Muhammad Hussain, Asif Hussain, Saman Jafri and Dr Fouzia were also present at KPC.

According to local media reports, Sattar stopped off at a local hotel prior to the press conference to meet MQM lawmakers including Arshad Vohra and Nasreen Jalil.

Attack on ARY offfice

Sattar and Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Khawaja Izhar-ul-Hasan were released from Rangers custody after overnight detention following violent protests in the metropolis.

Farooq Sattar and Khawaja Izhar were taken into custody by the Rangers on Monday night at Karachi Press Club after suspected MQM workers attacked an ARY News office in the Saddar area of the metropolis. One person was killed and several others injured as police clashed with the angry mob.

Sattar initially attempted to resist being taken into custody but was eventually convinced to follow orders. Khawaja Izhar also accompanied him to the Rangers headquarters. Media reported that Rangers officials informed the MQM leaders that DG Rangers Major General Bilal Akbar wanted to see them.

MQM leader Dr Amir Liaquat was also taken into custody from his office on I.I. Chundrigar Road and later released by the Rangers after overnight detention, according to local media reports.

“Altaf should have retracted his statement,” Amir Liaquat said speaking to a local TV channel. “I was awake all night. The Rangers kept me really well and I met the DG Rangers,” he said. “I am under a lot of pressure.”

The Rangers also raided MQM headquarters Nine Zero Monday night, taking nine other party leaders into custody and sealing MQM offices. The paramilitary force also recovered weapons from Nine Zero, which will be sent for forensic tests.

The MQM workers were sent on three-day remand in police custody on Tuesday, Media reported.

Sections of the media alleged that MQM workers had carried out the attack after receiving directives in a speech by MQM Chief Altaf Hussain. The MQM supremo today apologised to the military for his earlier ‘anti-Pakistan’ remarks.

Who is Farooq Sattar

Dr Farooq Sattar, born in 1959, is the deputy convenor of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and has also been its parliamentary leader. The party is registered with the Election Commission of Pakistan under Sattar’s name.

His association with MQM goes a long way back — APMSO (All Pakistan Muhajir Students Organisation) was formed in 1978, and Sattar became its member as early as 1979. The APMSO was the student body which served as the precursor to MQM.

After graduating from Sindh Medical College in 1986, he remained actively involved with MQM and has not looked back since.

At the age of 28 in 1987, he was elected the mayor of Karachi — reportedly becoming the youngest mayor in the world.

Also since 1988, Sattar has consistently been part of either the National Assembly, Sindh Assembly. He won a seat in the NA in the 1988, 1990 and 1997 election from Karachi and won in 2008 from NA-249 (Karachi – XI).

In 1993, MQM boycotted the National Assembly polls with Sattar returning from a provincial assembly seat instead. After securing the seat, he was appointed leader of the opposition in the Sindh Assembly.

In 1997, Sattar gave up his National Assembly for a provincial seat — he was then appointed minister for local government.

In 2002, Sattar won a by-election on the NA-255 seat, which had been previously won by a candidate of Muttahida’s arch-nemesis Mohajir Qaumi Movement (MQM-Haqiqi).

And while Sattar won the 2008 election from NA-249, allegations of foul play were made by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

Sattar was also arrested on two occasions: In 1994, during Benazir Bhutto’s tenure as prime minister, when massive crackdowns took place against MQM (he was released in 1997) and then again in 1999, when he surrendered to the authorities over corruption charges levelled against him soon after Pervez Musharraf established military rule. He was released in 2001.

The MQM heavyweight has not only served as mayor, MNA, provincial minister, he has also been the chairman of the National Assembly’s foreign affairs committee and held the post of federal minister for overseas Pakistanis from 2008-2013. He also maintained the position of MQM Deputy Convener of the party’s central coordination committee.

Mustafa Kamal blasts Altaf Hussain after Karachi violence

KARACHI: Former Karachi mayor and Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) head Mustafa Kamal lashed out at MQM chief Altaf Hussain for “making provocative speeches at his party’s hunger strike” in Karachi, leading to violence against media teams.

Addressing a hurriedly-called press conference on Monday, Kamal alleged that Altaf Hussain once again sought help from the Indian intelligence agency RAW.

The MQM chief, he said, was trying to defame the country’s Mohajir community.

“Those making hue and cry about the so-called mandate in Karachi are indulging in anti-Pakistani activities,” Kamal said and accused Mr Hussain of playing politics on dead bodies.

The former mayor called upon the MQM supporters to abandon Hussain for the sake of the community and country. He lamented that no action was taken against Altaf Hussain despite strong evidence. “Whatever we had been saying over the past two years turned out to be true today,” he added.

Earlier, Senior MQM leader Dr Amir Liaquat Hussain on Monday tendered an apology for today’s violent protest by some party’s workers at the office of a TV channel.

“I regret and apologize if any of our workers is involved in assaulting media teams,” he told media. “This is against freedom of speech and press,” he said, adding MQM strongly condemns the violence.

He, however, said that MQM had nothing to do with miscreants who attacked media teams in Karachi. “We strongly dissociate ourselves from protestors,” he said and added a third party could be behind the violence.

Scores of angry MQM workers stormed the ARY office at Madina Mall, broke its entry gate, assaulted media teams and set many vehicles on fire. The protestors also attacked a SAMAA DSNG and left a cameraman wounded.

Gunshots were also heard in the area. One person was killed and several people were injured in the violent protest and firing.

Operation Khyber III: 40 terrorists killed, 21 injured

RAWALPINDI: As many as  40 terrorists have been killed and 21 injured since launch of operation Khyber 3 ,  the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) reported on Monday.

The operation was commenced last week. In treacherous terrain of Rajgal, 43 terrorist hideouts were destroyed through ground and aerial operations since start of operation.
Security forces have also occupied passes and are now consolidating their positions up in high mountains in Rajgal.

Huge cache of arms and ammo including IEDs were recovered during search in Damo Drub .