Is Wasim Akhtar getting a fair trial?

Published: August 5, 2016
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Policemen escort Wasim Akhtar for hearing at an ATC on Thursday. PHOTO: ONLINE

First things first, as a member of the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), someone who has seen Mr Wasim Akhtar’s work closely and is aware of his political inclinations, I would like to state clearly, boldly, and without a doubt that his arrest is unlawful. The arrest in question was made whilst he was at court, attending a hearing for his bail extension in relation to charges attributed to him in Dr Asim Hussain’s alleged confessional statement.

My reasons stem, first and foremost, from the fact that the so-called confessional statement made by Dr Asim was made before the infamous Joint Investigation Team (JIT) – a team that has no legal or constitutional bearing – and as such is not admissible in any court of law.

As soon as the Anti-terrorism Court (ATC)’s judge cancelled the bail, which was frankly quite shocking, Mr Akhtar and MQM’s MPA Rauf Siddiqui, were remanded into custody and taken to Karachi Central Jail. Suddenly, decade-old criminal charges propped up against Akhtar by the JIT and he was booked in a long list of cases.

Mr Akhtar, as you are aware, is the nominated mayor for the city of Karachi, the seventh largest city in the world, therefore making him a credible and high profile figure. He had travelled the night before his bail was cancelled from London and the authorities were aware of this, if he was a flight risk, he would not have returned to answer bail. On the morning of the bail hearing, the judge categorically stated in an open court that she is under serious influence to cancel bail, and she cannot explain by whom, hence due diligence was not even initiated.

The members of this investigation team also deputed notorious police officer, Rao Anwar, who has alleged that Mr Akhtar is responsible for various crimes. Rao Anwar, overtime, has acquired the infamous reputation of being an ‘encounter specialist’ and of torturing detainees. A United Nations report has also stated that Rao Anwar his extraction of confessions is based on torture.

As many of us were already expecting, a ‘confessional statement’ of Akhtar soon emerged on electronic media alleging that he has ‘admitted’ to have gotten orders from overseas for the May 12, 2007 incident in Karachi.

One does not have to be a rocket scientist to understand that this is totally fabricated and maliciously designed to malign the image of Akhtar, as well as of MQM’s founder and leader Altaf Hussain, nationally and internationally.

The real face of this one-sided Karachi Operation is being exposed day by day. It is evident that the establishment is not ready to accept Karachi’s mandate. It is not willing to allow Akhtar to become the mayor of Karachi for reasons best known to them. Akhtar hasn’t committed any wrongs except that he stood by MQM during its rainy days and during the previous, as well as the on-going operation.

Freedom of expression is a basic human right for any citizen around the world, but unfortunately we, the members of MQM, can’t exercise such an act in Pakistan. And if you dare to do so, you face the music – as was seen in the Akhtar case.

As a member of the party, I would like to say that we have genuine fears for the lives of Wasim Akhtar and Rauf Siddiqui. Even their family members and legal representatives have not been allowed to meet them. What sort of fair trial is this? If the trial is fair, we are willing to accept any charges attributed to him. We request that the Supreme Court take suo-moto notice of this.

Wasay Jalil

Wasay Jalil

The author is the Member Central Coordination Comm MQM Pakistan and Altafist by heart. He tweets as @WasayJalil (twitter.com/WasayJalil)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Acorn Guts

    Author has a strong case based on technical argument but has yet again ignored the big elephant in the room.

    To change public opinion MQM needs to work beyond Waseem Akhtar or Wasay Jaleel and take measures to substantially answer the wider accusations of terrorism, extortion, working for foreign govt. and money laundering that have been raised against MQM by some very high profile people, foreign police forces and their own senior party workers over the last few years.

    Mr. Akhtar will probably walk away a political martyr in a few days but longer you leave this dirty laundry unwashed the more it will smell.Recommend

  • Jaodat Mand Khan

    Mr. Wasay Jalil, What your party has been doing in karachi in the name of development is know to everyone. But as a learned person like you and Mr. Waseem Akhter, one should always remember that “as you sow, so shall you reap”. Embrace it.Recommend

  • Parvez

    I doubt I’ll see many comments sympathisizing with you.Recommend

  • Kiran

    On 12th May 2007 with the help of press & electronic media, the real face of MQM was exposed. Some analysts say that PTI Chairman, Imran Khan’s unsuccessful efforts to try Altaf Hussain in British courts under cross-countries terrorism charges could have barely exposed him than the collective efforts of media, with courageous coverage, had brought in limelight the way Karachi based ethnic group, MQM operates & manhandles its political opponents.

    Upon the orders of an army dictator, with complete support from intelligence agencies -once MQM used to blame those for all evils- blocking the arrival of Chief Justice Ifthikhar Chaudhry at Karachi airport had resulted huge political damage for Altaf Hussain. To minimize the damage, MQM had crafted a video presentation to its supporters that other political groups were also involved in this heinous crime of killing innocents, which many reports say that, predominantly committed by hardcore MQM loyalists. Here is a detailed account of events presented by foreign press, stating the activities of MQM on 12th May 2007.

    Nicholas Schmidle, the author of Two Tumultuous Years in Pakistan, an upcoming book which will be released on 12th May 2009, in his Dispatch from Karachi writes his account of arrival on 11th May night published by Slate magazine on May 17th 2007:

    “I arrived in Karachi at 2 a.m. on Saturday. The MQM had blocked every possible exit and entry point to the airport using shipping containers, buses, and water tankers. There were no taxis. People were sleeping in the terminal, and babies screamed. Food and water supplies at the airport were already running low, 10 hours before the chief justice was expected to land. It seemed entirely possible that these people would be marooned at the airport for a day or two. Fearing that I would be stuck there, too, I shouldered my luggage and headed in the direction of the main road. On the way, a security guard warned me that there was gunfire and burning tires just outside the airport. Karachi is not a city that you walk around on a good day; the prospect of negotiating through an obstacle course of burning tires and armed MQM activists made it seem all the more absurd, but the longer I waited, the tighter the blockade would be. Fortunately, I met a mustachioed man in his 40s along the road who happened to be a police officer. He said he had a jeep, with an armed guard, waiting on the other side of two layers of MQM-arranged cordons. After a few minutes, we reached the jeep and began navigating through back alleys and roads still under construction—any path that the MQM might not yet have blocked. There were no vehicles on the streets other than the commandeered tankers and buses, most of which flew the MQM’s tricolor flag. The trip from the airport to the hotel where I was staying typically takes about 15 minutes. I finally checked in at 4:30 a.m.”

    “With the MQM in command of every intersection, roundabout, and flyover, any attempt by the opposition parties to greet the chief justice was destined for confrontation. Syed, the Pashtun politician, was trapped, along with a caravan of his party’s supporters, beneath a flyover on the main road leading to and from the airport. As gunfire broke out between ANP and MQM activists around 1 p.m., a well-aimed shot, taken from the overpass, smashed the windshield of a red Toyota Land Cruiser Prado with ANP plates, immediately killing a man sitting in the back seat. “They thought I was there,” Syed told me two days later. He showed me the bullet recovered from the back seat of the Prado, the same kind of bullet used in the Heckler Koch G3 assault rifle. While Kalashnikovs are common in Pakistani homes, the G3 is not. Shahi said the only people with access to such weapons are the army and intelligence agencies.”

    “On Sunday, I asked a police officer if he had received an official order not to intervene in Saturday’s street battles. His face bore a shameful expression, and he replied, “No comment.””

    “On Tuesday morning, I returned once again to the roundabout where rioters had clashed with the police all day on Sunday. There, I spoke with a pudgy, middle-aged journalist named Rafiq. He told me, “On May 12, the nexus between Musharraf and the MQM was fully exposed. On the other side are the lawyers, journalists, students, traders, Pashtuns, Baluchis, Punjabis, Sindhis, secular parties, religious parties, and nationalist parties. The battle lines are drawn. Who knows where it will end.””

    Graham Usher, a former Palestine correspondent for the Economist and the author of Dispatches from Palestine: the Rise and Fall of the Oslo Peace Process, in his article “Musharraf all alone” writes about MQM & the killing on 12th May 2007 published in Al Ahram weekly magazine, Cairo as follows:

    “The second image was of the “people’s power” lionised by Musharraf. In fact it was the gang violence of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), one of the few mass-based parties in Musharraf’s coalition government, whose base is Karachi.”

    “On 12 May, MQM gunmen torched buses, blockaded Karachi airport, fired on a TV station and sprayed gunfire on all and sundry not of their allegiance.”

    “Although secular in outlook, the muhajirs define themselves as a “nationality” and take a fascist view of all not of their kind, especially those native to Karachi and its Pashtun- dominated neighbourhoods. In 1980s and 1990s the MQM were involved in communal wars in Karachi that left thousands dead. Musharraf is a muhajir, and his clear identification with the MQM in Karachi “has exposed the huge fault-line of ethnicity that divides this country”, says analyst Shafqat Mahmoud. “This has huge ramifications because as the self-declared president of Pakistan and also as a never retiring chief of army staff [Musharraf] is supposed to be above any kind of parochial or political considerations.””

    A Toronto, Canada based TheStar writes under the article “Bloody riots engulf Karachi” with a reference from Associated Press: “An AP reporter saw MQM supporters calling for ammunition and firing from buildings, reportedly at opposition supporters…”
    https://www.thestar.com/news/2007/05/12/bloody_riots_engulf_karachi.htmlRecommend

  • Farhan

    None of the comments here make any sense.

    MQM may have a lot to answer for, but in any case, a trial should be fair. If the state goes out of it’s way to implicate Waseem Akhtar and have a mundane approach for others, it only raises sympathy for the accused.

    This way, even if he is convicted, he will go down as a hero for a portion of the masses and the state will be seen as the oppressor.Recommend

  • Amin Amin

    look who is talking?Recommend

  • Hasan Tasleem

    Couldn’t agree more, all norms of Free and Fair Trails are being violated. More than anything, few are hell bent on proving Mr. Akhtar guilty with out even a trail, let alone a fair one.Recommend

  • Keyboard Soldier

    MQM is powerless on its own. It was always the GHQ that has been using them sporadically since the 80s for their own local anti-PPP agendas.

    The next COAS could take a complete u-turn on this party, if he hates Zardari more than Altaf Hussain.

    Wait and see in a few months. May be Waseem would be the next mayor, provided the Pindi boys fall in love with Altaf Bro once again.Recommend

  • dilpazir khan

    WHY only MQM blame for?????? As you told LEA were also responsible for that incident, so why only politician and why only MQM blame for , Chiefs of Intelligence and others parties should be brought first bcz they were a “Sahulat Kaar”..
    Here a link to check that not only MQM responsible for 12 May Case.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezx6ExN2Szw
    Have look on these pics in link , only MQM rally has their families in MQM rallies and other Parties had their “Ghunday”.. Why we people forget 50 workers of MQM were also died in this incident who had killed them??? I think “abbabeel” ….

    http://www.mqm.org/English-News/May-2007/killers-mqm-rally-120507.htm

    If there are cases and evidence against MQM, they must be taken to task, not through media but proper prosecution in the court of law.. In case of waseem akhter case it seems to create media hype rather than catch culprits.
    p.s : Thumbnail of your mention in the last of your comment speaks a clear message.Recommend

  • Khudabux Rao

    In a short, bold & straight forward sentence would be: To protect & keep the power, sources & resources of Pakistan within the 2% group (2% of the high ranking Generals, Feudals) who were British servants or slaves since before the independence. These few people were given big lands & many incentives by the British in order to keep them as their permanent obedient servant. When the struggle for Pakistan was going on, these people were against the creation of Pakistan and they even tried their best that Pakistan don’t get created. But Allah wanted to create Pakistan, so Allah used the Muslims in the minority provinces of India to come forward for the creation of Pakistan. Those Muslims under the guidance of Quaid e Azam got together & worked hard & struggled & struggled & struggled & even gave millions of sacrifices of their beloved ones lives, millions of sacrifices of their properties & assets. When coming to Pakistan in 1947, they were slaughtered, raped, killed children, thousands of families got separated from each other, thousands of families reached Pakistan without their other family member who were coming with them. Even until today no one knows where they are, are they even alive or not. Thousands of people lost their minds because right in front of them their wives, daughters, and sisters were raped & their children were cut by their sword. They put their sword in the belly of the children & then were hanged & shown to their parents. There are thousands of more stories of sacrificing for Pakistan you can find on the internet. Here, to keep it short I have mentioned only couple of things. Now these are the remaining people who reached Pakistan were called “MAHAJIRS”. And most of them reached to Sindh & especially to Karachi.

    Now this 2% group saw that Pakistan has been created, even though they tried their best not to get created. They, with the help of British, then started to take over Pakistan by first killing Quaid e Azam indirectly & then Liaquat Ali Khan & then removed all the people who were with Quaid e Azam & inserted Feudals in the Real Muslim League & then Hijacked Muslim League completely. Now they got control of Pakistan but there was one HURDLE & that was The Mahajirs Factor who were establishing not only themselves but because of their Know How & Skills of Administrations, Management, Governance in Business, Industries, Education & Health etc. & by some people who were able to bring HUGE FINANCES with them as well (they even gave BLANK CHEQUES to Quaid e Azam for the expenses of the governments etc.), they took Pakistan into such a Height & Peak in just a few years that Pakistan stared to give FOREIGN AID to other countries & experts & specialists started to come to Pakistan to learn & research that How Pakistan got so much progress in such a very short period of time. Specially these 4 countries who were very backward at that time, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, China were learning & researching in Pakistan for their own countries to adopt. You can see where these countries stands now & where Pakistan is? All these info is documented & is on the record anyone could see & I would request, Must See. These same Mahajirs even created thousands & thousands of business opportunities & jobs for other Pakistanis as well. People started to come from all the provinces for the opportunities Mahajirs created. And people were getting well off. Whole Pakistan started to get benefits of these progress. But all these progress was & is against the interest to 2%. They wanted to keep everything into their British feudal hand (2%). They wanted to keep people slave. So after killing Quaid e Azam, Liaquat Ali Khan & take-over of Muslim League, they started to plant & design HATRED AGAINST MAHAJIRS. Why Mahajirs? Because they knew these people have given millions of sacrifices to Create Pakistan and now Pakistan is in their blood. No matter what they do against them, they will never go against the interest of Pakistan. They know this very very well. So they started to create Hatred first within their own ranks & army. They made sure that the army Hate them for artificially created reasons. That is why anyone can see that most of the Hatred is from the army personals. This was well planted by within their 2% group. And then they Planted in the Punjabi people & then in Pakhtuns people etc. When your ask anyone for the reason of hatred, no one is able to give any solid answer. They all give reasons of, IF & BUT OR AGAR, MAGAR kind of answers. No one has any solid foundation for Hatred. These 2% intentionally even artificially created BUGHS, KEENA, HASAD, JALAN, and HATRED ETC against Mahajirs. They know if they have rights of EQUAL PAKISTANI they WILL TAKE PAKISTAN TO THE PEAK AGAIN. Just remember, when they took Pakistan to the Peak in 1960s, WHOSE NAME WAS IN FRONT OF THE WORLD? WAS IT MAHAJIRS OR PAKISTAN? OF COURSE NO ONE KNEW MAHAJIRS, THEY KNEW ONLY & ONLY PAKISTAN’S NAME. Just think my beloved Pakistanis, investigate & recognize the truths & think that they did for themselves or for Pakistan? And then In Musharraf time when they were given power & resources, they again took progress to its peak. And these 2% didn’t like this again. This 2% group took over most of the Mahajir’s businesses etc. And through their artificially created hatred they are on the agenda to make Mahajirs Slave and to get criminalizing impression in front of other Pakistanis. Their ultimate aim is to grab & control 100% occupation of Karachi & Sindh by 2% group. For more detail go to my website & spend some time to read my blogs completely & then investigate yourself & then decide what the Real Facts & Truths are. Only condition is, you must be Unbiased, Believe in Haq & Insaaf & keep The Day of Judgement & The Punishment in Grave in front of you. Recommend

  • MJ

    The day Benazir was killed there were more than 100 people killed in indiscriminate firing by some son of soil activists. Some sons and daughters of soil politicians were recorded on film firing from their SUVs. More than 150 girls were abducted and abused. Our honorable rangers will soon start working to bring the culprits to justice…. they are just waiting for PPP to change its name to MQM.Recommend

  • Hasan Saqib
  • Karachiwala

    @Parvez for no reason
    @acornguts:disqus
    @disqus_Q41n00A3ME:disqus
    @kiran
    @Jado Khan

    Please read the piece again in google translate mode. He is only asking for fair trials.
    You have a problem with MQM, so be it.
    A state apparatus be it Police/Court must act in a FAIR way!!!!
    otherwise it will reap what it is sowing — flashback 1971

    You are cancelling Bail on JIT of Dr Asim.
    JIT is not a FACT substitute. You can not charge Dr Asim until now based on that, let alone cancelling some one else Bail based on that…wow

    May 12 2007– July 2016 almost after 9+ years. Suddenly out of blue, you bringing other charges, which were not there originally.

    If you can bring May 12 2007, can you bring 27 dec 2007? or things happend much before then. Pakka Qila? Qasba colony? Nothing HA? just that May 12 ???

    OK! we already knew this behavior of yours. Thanks.Recommend

  • Mike Pilgrim

    What nonsense, police are wrong, rangers are wrong, judges are wrong, but MQM goondas are innocent. Recommend

  • Hammad Ansari

    Based on technicalities, dear author, you may be correct. But you and your party have work beyond defending ‘leaders’ and clear from narrative that MQM encourages violence and that it has links with RAWRecommend

  • Mike Pilgrim

    Mohajir Goonda Mahaz talking about fair trial? Where was fair and trial for the people murdered by the Goonda Mahaz.Recommend

  • Mike Pilgrim

    Thugs and criminals are not martyrsRecommend

  • Parvez

    If one ‘ goes by the book ‘, the author is absolutely correct…….but what or who goes by the book in Pakistan ?Recommend

  • Vishal Nain

    Dear Anonymous! Please do away with this misconception. The only sin of Altaf Hussain, MQM leadership, workers and followers is that they always refused to bow to the institution you mentioned in your comments. Karachiites in particular and all Mohajirs are being punished for this since three decades. If us Mohajir people succumb to them we could save 20000 lives. But we have chosen to live the life of dignity.Recommend

  • Vishal Nain

    Do not forget that Waseem Akhtar is people’s choice. MQM has the heavy mandate of Mohajirs in Karachi and urban Sindh and its leadership is bound to respect the people choice. Waseem Akhtar has been chosen Mayor of Karachi and he will not be replaced to someones wishes or orders.Recommend

  • Vishal Nain

    Unfortunately you people do not have the courage to call a spade a spade. The sensible population of the country is watching whatever is happening in Karachi. Mohajirs genocide, blatant violation of human rights and custodial killings have been reported to the UN and other international huaman rights organizations.Recommend

  • Mike Pilgrim

    The Mohajir genocide of Sindhis and Pathans, the Mohajirs blatant violation of human rights in Karachi an Hyderabad, the Mohajirs kidnappings of Sindhis and Pathams, the Mohajirs terrorist attacks in Karachi, pretending to be Taliban. Altaf was thrown out of the UK for his criminal behavior. Altaf was a murdering criminal as a student leader in Karachi. Altaf and his mafia have a long history of murders.Recommend

  • Keyboard Soldier

    This is exactly the problem when people become member of cults (ideologies), without their brain telling them that they are.

    The Muslims in the west also protect their fellow Muslims, no matter how many terrorist attacks they do, by finding references to remain victims.

    I do not blame you or other millions of Altaf followers. Same is the case with lovers of Bhuttos, Nawaz, Imran, Trump, Modi, or Generals etc.

    We are all cult members one way or the other based on our ideologies and war/clash is only natural.Recommend

  • Acorn Guts

    Again, you are ignoring the elephant. I’ll repeat, his mayorship is not a concern for us bystanders, in fact keep the mayorship for all we care .. it nothing but an insignificant political drama that is being used to avoid the gravity of other serious allegations that MQM is facing.Recommend

  • Acorn Guts

    political martyrs, please read.Recommend

  • Acorn Guts

    Like I already said, technically, author has a fair point so no need to go all aggressive on me .. I call spade a spade when I see one and I know how to stand up to bullies so don’t even try that on me.

    I don’t live in Karachi, I don’t even live in Pakistan .. I have no qualms against MQM or for any political party for that matter. But I do have beef with MQM for not answering the gravity of allegations made against them so consistently. All I see from MQM is constant dodging them and nothing else.Recommend