Pakistan's Karachi in lockdown after politician arrested in London

Exiled leader of the Pakistani political party MQM, Altaf Hussain, arrested on suspicion of money-laundering

Pakistan's Karachi in lockdown after politician arrested in London

World Bulletin/News Desk

British police arrested the exiled leader of the Pakistani political party MQM, Altaf Hussain, in London early Tuesday on suspicion of money-laundering, the BBC reported.

A police spokesman said a 60-year-old man was arrested during an early morning raid on a house in northwest London but declined to confirm his identity.

He said special operations officers were continuing to search the property but no further details were immediately available.

A spokesman at the MQM headquarters in north London confirmed Hussain had been arrested and said the party would release more details at a news conference in Karachi shortly.

Hussain, head of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) that rules Pakistan's largest city, Karachi, lives in exile in London and is wanted for an unrelated murder case in Pakistan.

Supporters praise him as a business-oriented leader of Pakistan's educated middle class, but opponents describe him as a tyrant and accuse him of murder and violence.

The MQM party's support base is millions of Muslim Urdu-speaking people whose families migrated to Karachi and nearby areas at the time of the 1947 partition.

Hussain's hold on Karachi is so strong that he is capable of shutting down entire neighbourhoods of the city of 18 million.

Within minutes of his arrest, panicked shop-keepers and market stall owners rushed to close their businesses for fear of violence, residents said.

"We deployed extra security at the British High Commission in the southern part of Karachi as soon we learnt about Altaf Hussain's arrest in London through media," Deputy Inspector General Abdul Khalique Shaikh told Reuters.

"We have increased police patrolling and we are making further deployments at sensitive spots in the city."

Tension was high and residents said the city came to a standstill due to massive traffic jams as people rushed home for fear of violence.

Pakistani television showed images of a car set on fire and sporadic gunfire could be heard in the city but no major acts of violence were immediately reported.

"All shops and markets are shut. Even small cigarette shops are closed," Mohammad Moosa, a resident of Karachi, told Reuters. "Petrol station operators have also closed down, fearing violence."

Last Mod: 03 Haziran 2014, 14:24
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