Mystery Murder of Dr Imran Farooq: Who killed him and why?


The killing of Dr Imran Farooq could have extraordinary ramifications if the assassins are found to have links in Pakistan

Dr Imran Farooq, former convener of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, who was stabbed to death in London on September 16, 2010 under mysterious circumstances, had a love-hate relationship with the MQM supremo Altaf Hussain — that led to his expulsion from the party twice and suspension for four times during his 25-year-long troubled political career with the Mohajir party.

Investigations carried out by Scotland Yard show that Imran Farooq was stabbed mostly in the skull with a sharp dagger with an intent to kill him. Reports emanating from London do not rule out the possibility of Scotland Yard also interrogating the top MQM leaders to understand the nature of differences they had with Farooq. Altaf Hussain was celebrating his 57th birthday the day the murder was committed. He was quick to describe Farooq as Shaheed-e-Inqilab, despite the fact that his former deputy and once most-trusted associate did not have normal relations with the party leadership, especially after being removed from the MQM convener’s slot.

Farooq was among the few individuals who laid the foundation of the Mohajir Qaumi Movement in 1984, along with Altaf Hussain, and was considered the brain behind the party’s rise as the fourth major political force in Pakistan. The murder for the time being is shrouded in mystery. Rumours suggest: Farooq was contemplating to launch his own party faction, Aman Pasand Group, along with some other Mohajir leaders who were no more willing to endorse Altaf’s style of politics; or he was about to launch a new political party with the name of Mohajir National Front, with the backing of several top MQM leaders; or there were chances of him joining hands with London-based General (retd) Pervez Musharraf.

The doctor-turned-politician had almost faded from the public memory for most Pakistanis in recent years as he had abandoned politics and was working at a pharmacy in London to earn bread and butter for his wife and two sons. Imran Farooq was deposed as the party convener by the MQM’s Central Coordination Committee in May 2007 after being accused of violating the party discipline. Then, it was rumoured that Farooq had developed differences with Altaf Hussain after the May 12, 2007 killings in Karachi — the day Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhry landed in the port city to address a lawyers’ meeting. The MQM insiders say Farooq was sacked from the coveted party slot because Altaf Hussain believed he had simply failed to defend his party during a live Geo debate with Tehrik-e-Insaaf Chief Imran Khan on May 17, 2007 in London. The debate was held a few day after the Karachi carnage and Imran Khan’s subsequent move to approach the Scotland Yard and the British Law and Justice Department, seeking action against Hussain for his alleged involvement in the brutal killings.

Some other circles claim Imran Farooq actually fell out of favour with the party leadership when he started challenging the veto power of the MQM supremo in the party’s decision-making process. Nevertheless, a central MQM leader in Karachi, requesting anonymity, rubbished the rumours of an intra-party rift in the MQM. He added that despite having been deposed as convener, Dr Imran Farooq was still in touch with the party leadership. “The day he was martyred, Imran Bhai was to attend the 57th birthday celebrations of Altaf Hussain, which were being held at the MQM central secretariat in London,” he claimed, adding the murder seemed to be a message to “the Quaid-e-Tehrik that he and his associates were not safe even in London”.

Imran Farooq, who was the MQM’s Secretary General in 1992 when the Pakistan Army decided to launch a ruthless military operation in Karachi, managed to slip out of the country on a fake passport and under an assumed name in 1999. He was subsequently appointed convener of the MQM Coordination Committee — the top slot in the MQM organisational structure which at the time fell vacant after the removal of Senator Ishtiaq Azhar. Farooq was unanimously elected as the party convener on September 9, 1999. But three years later, on November 7, 2002, he was suspended by Altaf Hussain who decided to take direct control of the party affairs. He had declared then that “Farooq was a hero but he failed to mend his ways despite repeated counseling.”

The MQM supremo had claimed that he had sent six emissaries to Imran Farooq; all of them returned with indications that he was inclined to repent. “Imran later rang up one of the six emissaries and misbehaved with him. I am not sure at whose behest Imran Farooq had allegedly adopted such an attitude. If he publicly apologises before the party workers, I am still ready to forgive him”, Altaf Hussain was quoted as saying by the Pakistani media on November 8, 2002. On July 27, 2005, almost two-and-a-half-year after his suspension, Farooq was again brought back as the MQM’s convener, to be removed from the slot once again in May 2007. It remains unclear who killed Dr Imran Farooq. But it is clear that the assassination could have extraordinary ramifications, if the killers are found to have any links in Pakistan.

Courtesy: The News on Sunday: September 26, 2010

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