Ban on Geo excessive, one-day suspension was enough: Altaf | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation

Ban on Geo excessive, one-day suspension was enough: Altaf

Pakistan Press Foundation

LONDON: Altaf Hussain, the exiled leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), has strongly condemned the suspension of Geo’s licence saying that the decision by Pemra was excessive as the ban could have perhaps been slapped “for a day”.

He suggested that the Geo licence suspension was an attack on the free press and expressed his support for the freedom of the media.

He said that he respected and trusted the British justice system and hoped that justice will be done in the case of the money-laundering probe for which he was arrested and released on police bail.

Speaking live from the International Secretariat soon after his release from the Southwark Police Station, Hussain, 60, who has been living in the UK since 1991, said that he would not comment on his case because it is with the authorities but said he hoped justice would prevail and that he respected “British laws and the judicial system”.

Altaf Hussain was arrested on Tuesday morning by Scotland Yard from his home on suspicion of money-laundering but he spent three nights in the Wellington Hospital due to his ill health.

Scotland Yard said in a statement: “The 60-year-old man arrested on Tuesday 3 June on suspicion of money laundering has been released on police bail to a date in July pending further enquiries. Police bail is the term used when a person arrested in connection with a criminal offence is released from police custody whilst the police investigation continues and until they are next required to appear at a police station. When a person is released on police bail they are required to return to the police station at a specific date and time”. The news of Mr Hussain’s release prompted celebrations across the world wherever his party has a presence, including in London. On the Borough High Street, traffic came to a halt as Hussain came out of his car’s sun roof and waved to his supporters who had been waiting outside the police station for over 10 hours.

“Those who stick with what is just never have to face defeat. I believe in Imam Hussain (AS) who mounted a struggle for the right reasons in Karbala against the forces of Yazeed. Like a true Hussaini who believes in the cause of justice and fairness, I will never surrender even if it means sacrificing my life for the fulfillment of a right cause. I will never stop speaking the truth, be it before the Pakistani authorities or the British. My mission will continue regardless of what happens to me,” a defiant Hussain told his charged supporters, who kept raising slogans at the International Secretariat at regular intervals to express their support to Mr Hussain.

Hussain said he never retreated from his stance and he would continue to say what is right, irrespective of how tough the time may be. “Every person deserves the right of equivalent treatment…. I did not bow before forces even when I was arrested in 1992,” he said.

Altaf Hussain thanked the staff at the Wellington Hospital and the Metropolitan police staff for congenial treatment during his stay at the hospital and police custody. “The police attitude was hospitable both in the lockup and at hospital and I am thankful to them for this.”

Altaf Hussain expressed his gratitude for “those who raised their voice over his arrest”. Hussain mentioned all political parties, minus the PTI, and thanked them for their support but praised PM Nawaz Sharif for showing leadership and arranging consular access for him.

Altaf Hussain was welcomed at the International Secretariat by Dr Asim Hussain and Wajid Shamsul Hasan. A delegation of the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) headed by Ifzaal Siddiqui remained at the police station and at the MQM Secretariat to show support on behalf of former President Pervez Musharraf.

Altaf began his speech with recitation from the Holy Quran. He added: “The greatest strength for people who struggle against injustices is patience. It is the patience that enabled the Ahle-Bait to prevail over the forces of Yazeed forever. Hazrat Imam Hussain (AS) sacrificed his life but did not bow his head before the forces of Yazeed. When my brother and nephew were arrested, I did not beg for their lives. I accept martyrdom like Imam Hussain (AS).”

Hussain said that his legal team was looking into the allegations of money-laundering and will be formulating a response as per requirements but refused to comment any further on this.

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