Leaders of Pakistan’s Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) party have reportedly told UK investigating authorities that they have received funding from the Indian government, a claim the Indian government has outrightly denied. The news comes from a BBC report which quoted “a Pakistani official” who claims that India has trained hundreds of MQM militants in explosives, weapons and sabotage over the last 10 years in camps in north and north-east India, over the last ten years. This Pakistani official also appears to be the source of information on what MQM leaders allegedly told the UK authorities.
When asked about the claims, the Indian embassy in London told the BBC: ”Shortcomings of governance cannot be rationalised by blaming neighbours. The BBC report focuses on the investigation by UK authorities into the murder of MQM leader Imran Farooq as well as the unearthing of large sums of money in the UK office of the party as well as the residence of Farooq. In its report, the BBC claims that the latest revelations confirms charges levelled in April this year by Karachi police official, SSP Malir Rao Anwar. He claimed that two MQM militants arrested in Pakistan were backed by the Indian government and RAW to destabilise Pakistan.
The BBC, however, fails to mention that the Pakistan government acted swiftly and dismissed the police official from his post, asking him to report to the Central Police Office following his terrorism remarks. The MQM, too, threatened to take the matter to court, Geo TV reported. Further, while the BBC claims that “UK authorities investigating the MQM for alleged money laundering also found a list of weapons in an MQM property,” it’s sourcing is problematic. The report does not have a single quote from any UK official or investigative source, entirely relying on Pakistan politicians and officials who offer no basis for their supposed knowledge of the UK investigation and its findings.
There is also a strange ambiguity about the source of information in places such as: ”British authorities held formal recorded interviews with senior MQM officials who told them the party was receiving Indian funding, the BBC was told. That certain political outfits in Pakistan have often alleged that India’s R&AW is behind terror attacks is not new and such claims have repeatedly been dismissed for lack of evidence. One such claim was that India was behind the Peshawar school attack, a charge that was soon dismissed when the Pakistan Taliban claimed responsibility.
The ambiguous sourcing in the BBC report has come under fire from a variety of quarters.
The BBC Report on India training MQM members is completely baseless. Shortcomings of governance cannot be rationalized by blaming neighbours
— Vikas Swarup (@MEAIndia) June 24, 2015
BBC story is not only to fuel fires inside Pakistan , but also to ruin Relations with India .
— Nausheen Geo (@nausheenyusuf) June 24, 2015
Dear @BBCWorld story on claim of India MQM is disappointing journalism given the grave charge. What were the editorial checks do share
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) June 24, 2015
Unfortunately the story by BBC is the “English” version of Rao Anwar’s presser. Difference: Rao Anwar at-least had fake evidence #MQM
— Ali Kamran Chishti (@akchishti) June 24, 2015
Meanwhile, British police are expected to arrive in Pakistan later this week to interrogate the two suspects in the London murder of Imran Farooq, a founding member of the MQM party. He was stabbed and beaten to death in Edgware in northwest London as he returned home from work in September 2010. The suspects were in Britain in the period leading up to his murder, and left hours afterwards. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said Pakistan would help the British police in a transparent investigation. “We will ensure proper investigation without any prejudice, without any favour,” he told reporters.
Critics of the MQM, the most powerful political force in Pakistan’s biggest city of Karachi, have claimed that the killing of Farooq was linked to an internal dispute in the party, which has been run from London by exiled leader Altaf Hussain for over two decades. The MQM has strongly denied the claims. Farooq claimed asylum in Britain in 1999. He was wanted in Pakistan on scores of charges including torture and murder related to the MQM’s activities, but always claimed the accusations were politically motivated.
He was twice elected an MP in Pakistan, but went into hiding in 1992 when the government ordered a military crackdown against party activists in Karachi. The mystery of his killing remains thus far unsolved. For now, the BBC report seems to have raised bigger questions about its journalism than offered any answers about his death.
With inputs from AFP