Exiled Pakistani politician murdered in London

17th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

A leading Pakistani politician living in exile in Britain has been murdered outside his London home, his party and sources said Friday.

Imran Farooq, a senior member of Pakistan's Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) party, was found with head injuries and stab wounds in north London on Thursday, police sources said.

A message on the party website said: "MQM convenor Dr Imran Farooq murdered in London" as it declared 10 days of mourning.

Police said they were called to reports of a serious assault in the Edgware district of the British capital at 5:30 pm (1630 GMT).

"Officers found an Asian man, aged 50, with stab wounds and head injuries. Paramedics treated the man but he was pronounced dead at the scene at 6:37 pm (1737 GMT)," said a spokesman for London's Metropolitan Police.

Next of kin have been informed and no arrests have been made, said the spokesman.

Farooq was expected to attend a birthday celebration at the MQM headquarters in London on Thursday but the event was cancelled at the last minute, Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper reported.

Farooq was a founding member of the party which is a major political force in Pakistan's biggest city Karachi.

He vanished from the country in 1992 and is known to have been living in exile in London since 1999, when he claimed asylum in Britain, according to the BBC.

The politician was wanted by security forces and said in 1999 he had spent the previous seven years in hiding in Karachi, said the broadcaster.

Farooq was accused of a range of charges, including murder and torture, the Telegraph reported.

He claimed in 1992 that he was wanted "dead or alive", according to the paper.

"[This gave] licence and impunity to every individual in Pakistan to assassinate me," he was quoted as saying.

"It was impossible for me to remain in Pakistan due to the continued threat on my life and liberty," he added.

The murder of an MQM lawmaker, Raza Haider, in Karachi last month triggered a wave of political and ethnic killing in the city that left scores of people dead.

The MQM is a dominant party in Karachi, in the southern Pakistani province of Sindh. It is a partner in the Sindh provincial ruling coalition led by the Pakistan Peoples Party.

Karachi is plagued by ethnic and sectarian killings, crime and kidnappings, exacerbating woes in a country battling with unprecedented flooding that has killed more than 1,500 people and affected up to 21 million.

Tensions are high between coalition partners MQM and the Awami National Party (ANP), which represent different communities in Karachi and so straddle political faultlines in the city.

The ANP is the party of more than two million Pashtuns who have escaped poverty and Taliban-linked violence in the northwest for Karachi, where they largely perform menial jobs in transport and construction.

MQM represents the city's dominant Urdu-speaking population.

London has hosted a number of exiled Pakistani politicians. Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf currently lives in the British capital.

© 2010 AFP

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