Pakistan has launched a formal probe into reports and allegations that India’s external intelligence agency gave money to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) to destabilise the country, officials said on Wednesday.
Interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told the Senate he had assigned the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to probe the allegations of the MQM being funded by the Research and Analysis Wing.
The Karachi-based party has for long been accused of links with RAW, and the issue returned to the limelight when former mayor Mustafa Kamal challenged the leadership of MQM chief Altaf Hussain last week and accused him of receiving funds from the intelligence agency and working to destabilise Pakistan.
Khan reminded the Senate that Hussain had attended a summit of the Hindustan Times when Pervez Musharaf was president and talked about the Partition as a “mistake”.
Earlier, Khan told the Senate that there was not enough evidence against Hussain. But when senators pressed him to follow up on the allegations, he announced the FIA had been assigned to look into the matter.
An interior ministry spokesman said the initiative was taken after Sarfaraz Merchant, a prominent businessman and London-based confidante of the MQM, said in a TV interview that he had seen proof of “Indian funding to MQM”.
He alleged India had provided money to buy weapons. Merchant said several lists of weapons were found in Hussain’s house in London during a raid by Scotland Yard in 2014.
India has rejected the charge that it has funded the MQM, which draws support from Urdu-speaking people who moved to Pakistan at the time of Partition. MQM too has dismissed such allegations as “false” and “baseless”.
MQM leader Farooq Sattar said this was not the first time such allegations had been levelled against his party. “In the past we were accused of working with RAW but proof was never presented. It is very convenient for our detractors to accuse us of such things but never has any proof been presented,” he said.
“It’s the easiest thing to do to accuse someone in Pakistan of working for RAW.”