LAHORE - Altaf Hussain neither holds a Pakistani passport nor has he got his citizenship renewed but he remains a Pakistani national as per law, the Lahore High Court learnt yesterday.

Interior Ministry told the court that MQM chief is a dual national under Section 14 (3) of Pakistan Citizenship Act 1951.

The bench headed by Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi observed that if Altaf is not citizen of Pakistan then the court cannot hear case against him but if he is a citizen then action will be taken in accordance with the law. Asma Jahangir, the counsel of MQM chief, submitted a 3-page affidavit in which Altaf Hussain said he regretted if he had hurt the sentiments of anybody through his speeches, but he did not give an undertaking that he will not make any anti-army speech in the future.

When Ms Asma objected the court query about her client’s nationality, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood snubbed her saying she should not intervene in the court functioning.

In the affidavit, Altaf Hussain said: “I hereby solemnly affirm on oath on 29th day of September 2015 that I believe that the order of the LHC has seriously curbed free expression and denied my followers the right to hear me as their leader – that on September 18, I am informed that the court in its wisdom, sought an affidavit from me regarding a portion of my speech made to my followers on April 20, 2015, in which I criticised use of force against my party people and was enraged at being constantly dubbed as traitor and therefore the rhetoric has been misconstrued.”

He also said that in three subsequent interviews to different TV channels he had explained his words and “if the learned law offices had presented the subsequent television interviews, the honorable court may have withheld its order”.

In the last paragraph of the affidavit, he said: “I solemnly declare that I regret if anyone’s sentiments are hurt and remind those who constantly paint MQM members as enemies of the state, that MQM members have equal sensitivity and are hurt on a daily basis when being accused of being unpatriotic.”

After hearing both sides, the bench directed the petitioners to argue on the affidavit submitted by Altaf Hussain and adjourned hearing until Oct 9. After the proceedings, a group of lawyers chanted slogans against MQM chief and his supporters when they saw Farooq Sattar entering court premises.

Later, talking to the reporters, Dr Farooq said they believed in the supremacy of law but they were not heard. He said MQM was a national party but some circles believe they have the authority to issue certificates of patriotism and treason.

On Sept 7, the LHC ordered the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) and the Press Council of Pakistan (PCP) to ensure a complete blackout of all activities of MQM chief Altaf Hussain in both electronic and print media for criticising rangers and army in his speech.