Altaf distances himself from his legislators’ support for PPB

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KARACHI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain distanced himself on Thursday from his party’s support for the controversial Protection of Pakistan Bill approved by the National Assembly a day earlier and said the parliamentarians of his party supported the law without consulting him. The disclosure, which raised a serious question about Mr Hussain’s grip over his party, came when a senior journalist asked the MQM chief at a Karachi Press Club programme why his party had supported what many described as a repressive law and despite the fact that he himself had rejected and termed it a black law.

“When I woke up in the morning I came to know that this law had been passed,” Mr Hussain clarified. “I asked my colleagues whether they had consulted anyone before supporting the legislation, and it turned out that they supported the law in haste.”

Mr Hussain, who was informally talking to journalists at the KPC from London over phone, admitted that the decision had been taken without even consulting him.

But he said that he personally still believed that the Protection of Pakistan Bill was a black law and it should be repealed as soon as the military operation Zarb-i-Azb was over.

“I assure you that we will not allow this law to continue for a longer period,” he added.

He said that since the armed forces had been busy in fighting militants in North Waziristan, one should avoid issuing any statement which could affect the operation.

In reply to a question, he said he would advise Dr Tahirul Qadri and Imran Khan to continue their anti-government protests, but avoid any action that might jeopardise the operation.

The MQM chief agreed with a recent statement of former ISPR director general retired Maj Gen Athar Abbas that indecision over the army operation in North Waziristan had caused serious losses.

He asked the United States, Britain, India and Afghanistan to extend their full cooperation to Pakistan in the operation against militants.

In reply to a question, Mr Hussain said the MQM never blamed Rangers and police as an institution for illegal arrests, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings of its workers. “These unconstitutional means are personal act of some biased elements in police and Rangers.”

He praised the army for launching the Zarb-i-Azb and announced that the MQM would take out a solidarity rally on July 6 in Karachi to support the armed forces. He said the nation stood by the armed forces in their mission to eradicate terrorism and militancy from the country.

Mr Hussain recalled the sacrifices rendered by journalists for democracy and solidarity of the country.

He asked the government, defence institutions and cable operators to play their role in restoring the transmission of certain private news channels on cable network so that they could inform the nation about the operation in North Waziristan.