Pakistan soldiers raid and seal off MQM headquarters

PAKISTAN, March 11: Soldiers recovered sophisticated weapons and detained a number of people wanted in criminal cases during the pre-dawn raid, Pakistan Rangers spokesman Col Tahir Mahmood said.

He called the two-hour raid a “purely information-based operation”.

The MQM has called a nationwide strike in protest against the search.

Supporters and party activists are gathering outside the headquarters.

‘Criminal elements’

Speaking to Pakistan’s Geo News, senior MQM figure Farooq Sattar said the operation was “inappropriate and beyond understanding”.

“MQM has itself always maintained its policy of zero tolerance against crime and terrorism, and it has always offered to co-operate,” he said.

The MQM says a number of its leaders, including senior leader Amir Khan, have been detained.

But Col Tahir disputed that, telling local media no MQM lawmaker had been arrested.

He said Mr Khan was only being held for questioning to explain “the presence of criminal elements”.

Col Tahir said a large cache of weapons had been recovered including illegal weapons.

“We showed you the weapons. Some illegal weapons are those which cannot even be imported into Pakistan. We suspect that these weapons may be those from missing Nato containers,” he said according to local media.

The MQM is often accused of extorting money from businesses in Karachi, charges the party denies. Party leader Altaf Hussain lives in self-imposed exile in London.