Pakistan party MQM chief apologises after anti-Pak remarks incite violence

Paramilitary soldiers stand guard near the dismantled makeshift tents of the supporters of Muttahida?Qaumi?Movement?(MQM) political party after a protest in Karachi, Pakistan, on August 22. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION London, United Kingdom Aug 23, 2016, 10.53 AM (IST)

A day after Altaf Hussain, chief of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) referred to Pakistan as "cancer for the entire world", he apologised to Army chief General Raheel Sharif and Director General (DG) Rangers Major General Bilal Akber for his vitriolic comments.

Parts of Hussain's speech that went viral on social media showed that he raised anti-Pakistan slogans while addressing the workers of MQM, a secular movement in Pakistan and a dominant political force in the capital Karachi, protesting outside the Karachi Press Club on Tuesday.

MQM spokesperson, Wasay Jalil, shared the apology statement by Hussain on Twitter. He also said the chief was under mental stress over the forced disappearances and extra-judicial killings of his party workers and that he uttered the words in anger.

"From the depth of heart, I beg pardon for my remarks against Pakistan, the establishment, including General Raheel Sharif and DG Rangers," daily newspaper, Dawn, quoted Hussain as saying.

"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 Hussain.

Earlier on Monday, hundreds of MQM workers attacked the offices of different TV channels in Pakistan after Hussain asked them to protest against the censorship of his speeches in the media, leaving one person dead and over half-a-dozen injured.

The party headquarters, 'Nine Zero', was sealed and its official website was taken down. At least nine of the party's senior party leaders, including Dr Farooq Sattar, the party's most senior parliamentarian were taken into custody.

He also urged authorities to "end all steps taken against MQM".

"For God's sake, don't cut MQM from the national mainstream," he added.

Later, Hussain also requested the authorities to release the arrested leaders.

MQM has been dominating Karachi's political landscape for decades even as its leader Hussain lives in self-exile in north London. He is known for making fiery speeches to his supporters in Karachi from his London home. 

The party has long accused the Sindhi rangers of carrying out extra-judicial killings of its members since a crackdown in Karachi in 2013.

(WION with inputs from agencies)