Britain’s former deputy head of Mission in Karachi Shaharyar Khan Niazi has claimed that the Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s leader Altaf Hussain voluntarily told the British government that he worked for the Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).
Shaharyar Khan Niazi worked for the British High Commission in Karachi for over a decade but importantly he remained at the heart of the policymaking as far Britain’s dealing with the MQM was concerned during the most crucial period – from 2010 until 2013 – after he was promoted to the position of Deputy Head of Mission.
In his first ever exclusive interview for ‘Geo News’ with this correspondent after quitting his post in the middle of 2013, Shahryar Khan Niazi revealed that Altaf Hussain confessed to his involvement with RAW during a high-profile diplomatic meeting in late 2011/early 2012. Niazi claimed that the British government and Scotland Yard had evidence that a written agreement existed between the MQM and the Indian premier spy agency RAW.
The former UK diplomat is privy to crucial information and was witness – as well as a part of it being in his important position – to the sensitive and important communications went on between the UK authorities and the MQM. According to Shahryar Khan Niazi, there is evidence linking Altaf Hussain with the Indian government.
“The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) is well aware of the fact that Altaf Hussain has links with RAW.”
When asked what the evidence was that the UK had on Altaf Hussain’s links to RAW, the former deputy head of mission told Geo News: “There is a lot of evidence but let me share with you the most important one. Firstly, a member of Her Majesty’s diplomatic service officially called on Altaf Hussain around 2011/12 and during that meeting Altaf Hussain voluntarily confessed and accepted that he worked for RAW. Secondly, there is evidence that Altaf Hussain’s team facilitated contacts between the RAW and Baloch insurgents. Hussain’s team helped bring the two together. Thirdly, there are financial trail of links with the RAW; and fourthly, confessional statements about these links exist and one of these has been leaked already, there are on-the-record interviews and confessions. What has come out in the public domain so far is only a tip of the iceberg.”
The former deputy head of mission made the most damning revelation that Altaf Hussain and his team had a documented agreement with RAW and the police had evidence of that. “Altaf Hussain and his team have a Service Delivery Agreement with RAW. Basically, an agreement as to what Altaf Hussain and his team will deliver for the RAW. There are communication exchanges, including emails. This evidence was found by Scotland Yard during the murder investigation of Dr Imran Farooq and the money-laundering investigation.”
The former top diplomat made startling revelation that the then interior minister of Pakistan under Pakistan People’s Party government Rehamn Malik was briefed by the British government that Altaf Hussain had links with RAW”.
Shaharyar Khan Niazi told Geo News: “Rehman Malik was briefed officially by the British government about Altaf’s links to RAW a couple of times”.
Shahryar Khan Niazi also said that “there was credible information to suggest that the Interior Minister (Rehman Malik) met Altaf Hussain and told him that he had spoken to the British Home Secretary (Theresa May) and that on his (Malik’s) intervention all the police investigations in relation to the MQM leader would be terminated and all charges would be dropped against Altaf Hussain.
The former deputy head of mission said that the British government confronted Rehamn Malik on this issue, based on information. “The interior minister was confronted by the UK government and asked not to make false statements or claims.”
When asked what Rehman Malik’s views were on these meetings, Mr Niazi said he would not comment on that but stressed that the fact of the matter was that the former interior minister was briefed about these links officially in his capacity as the interior minister of Pakistan.
The head of newly launched Pak Sarzameen Party Mustafa Kamal recently said that the MQM’s London based leaders briefed Pakistani leadership in Dubai about having confessed links with the RAW and that Rehman Malik was part of these meetings and privy to what was going on. But Rehman Malik replied that misinformation was being spread about him. He said that he didn’t dictate the MQM about their press releases and that he acted on the permission of Asif Ali Zardari.
Shahryar Khan Niazi said that his revelations were not “based on speculations and hearsay but hard facts”.
He said: “It’s important to separate the MQM in Pakistan as a political party from Altaf Hussain and his team which managed relations with the Indian spy agency. There are many genuinely good people in the MQM who are doing a good job.”
Shahryar Khan Niazi said that as a deputy head of mission, it was his job to run the mission, manage relations with political contacts and the political government, and in some cases with the federal government too. “I met all the political parties including the MQM, PPP, Awami National Party and others. I looked after the commercial diplomacy and in that capacity I took business delegations to the UK.”
The MQM says its opponents are leveling politically motivated allegations to discredit the party. It says that it has not been involved in money-laundering. The party leadership has opted to remain quiet on the Scotland Yard documents released on media and one of the money-laundering case accused Sarfraz Merchant’s allegation that the Scotland Yard officers on record told him that the MQM took money from the Indian government sources.
A party source told this correspondent that the party does not respond officially to charges as the matter is sub judice. However, unofficially he said all the charges of Altaf’s link with RAW are totally baseless and outright lies. The party leader is subjected to adverse propaganda by the vested interests. He advised this correspondent to have patience and not publish such propaganda stories against the party leader. He said every thing would become clear with the passage of time. He said if Altaf had links with RAW, how could his party become part of the government of former President Musharraf, who was also army chief.