September Issue 2010

By | News & Politics | Published 9 years ago

The news that long-time MQM member Dr Imran Farooq, 50, was killed in north London has shook Karachi and the party that rules Pakistan’s largest city. He was stabbed repeatedly in the head and neck. Images of MQM founder Altaf Hussain sobbing at the loss of his party’s first secretary general have been widespread on Pakistani television channels.

It is too early to declare who killed Dr Farooq, but some basic facts have been revealed by London authorities. When London police arrived at the scene of the murder, Dr Farooq’s body was lying outside his home. TheTelegraph reports:

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said officers attended an address in Green Lane, Edgware, shortly before 5.30pm after reports of a serious assault. “On arrival, officers found a single Asian man aged 50 with multiple stab wounds and head injuries,” the spokesman said.

Dr Farooq was a leading member of the Muttahida Quami Movement (see below for more articles on the MQM from Newsline‘s archives) who had been living in exile in the UK since 1999, after being in hiding in Karachi for seven years. A crackdown by Pakistan’s military in 1992 caused the MQM official (and co-founder of the All Pakistan Mohajir Students’ Organisation, a forerunner of the MQM) to go underground and eventually seek political asylum in the UK. In Pakistan, he was infamous for his violent reputation: he had been accused of murder and torture.

On the MQM’s official website, the party’s announcement of the murder of the MQM man, once considered to be second only to Altaf Hussain, was short and direct:

“MQM Convenor Dr. Imran Farooq murdered in London. MQM announced 10 days mourn all over the world including Pakistan.”

Despite the fact that an investigation into Dr Farooq’s murder has only started, the press is already publishing speculation that Dr Farooq knew his killer. Of course, there are other possibilities: a random mugging? Or, a political killing by a rival party. But if reports by Dawn are correct that “differences emerged” between Dr Farooq and Altaf Hussain in recent years, and that the former now had “no role in party affairs,” then why would another political party target a man who neither had power nor influence?

After his exile, Dr Farooq did not return to Pakistan, and as a result, like many other exiled MQM leaders, he did not take part in general elections in 2002 or 2008.

In an interview with Newsline in 2003, Dr Farooq talked about poor party discipline in the MQM, unsatisfactory leadership and his own suspension from the party: “My suspension was according to the rules and regulations of the party. In the MQM, no one is above its rules and regulations.”

For now, the people of Karachi are asking what next for the MQM and, by extension, their city?

The city has already seen a dangerous spike in political target killings and sectarian violence in recent months. Is Karachi in for more dangerous days ahead? Will a blame game erupt, and will revenge killings and mob violence darken the city once more?

To read a 2003 interview with Dr Imran Farooq click here.

Below are other articles related to the MQM and its political history: