Pakistan seeks British help over BBC claims on opposition party

25th June 2015, Comments 0 comments

Islamabad will formally ask Britain for assistance in investigating claims by the BBC that a leading Pakistani political party received money and military training from India, the interior minister said Thursday.

The report, published Wednesday and citing an "authoritative Pakistani source", said members of Pakistan's Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) party had received military training at camps in northern and north-eastern India over the past 10 years.

India is regarded with deep suspicion and hostility by many Pakistanis, and claims of collusion can be highly damaging.

According to the BBC report, MQM members had been given training in "explosives, weapons and sabotage" by New Delhi.

It was vehemently denied by New Delhi and by the MQM, which has its power base in the southern city of Karachi and which critics accuse of ruling using violence and extortion.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said: "I am going to address a letter to the British government on behalf of our government tomorrow to officially ask them to give Pakistan access to the BBC report, the facts and the investigation."

The request for assistance may stem from a claim in the report that MQM members confessed over the course of formal interviews with British authorities to having received an unspecified sum of Indian funding.

Khan, who met the British High Commissioner in Pakistan Philip Barton earlier in the day, added: "It is the responsibility of the British government to extend as much help as possible to Pakistan in this regard."

London's Metropolitan Police are currently investigating the MQM over money-laundering after a huge quantity of cash was reportedly found at party offices and exiled leader Altaf Hussain's home in London.

As well as the money-laundering case, British police are also probing the murder of MQM politician Imran Farooq in London in 2010.

Political observers believe the party, which was close to the country's powerful military establishment during the 1999-2008 rule of military strongman Pervez Musharraf, has since fallen out of favour.

The party blames the paramilitary Rangers force for carrying out extrajudicial killings and kidnappings of its activists.

© 2015 AFP

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