KARACHI - Opposition Leader in Sindh Assembly Khawaja Izharul Hasan was released after a strong political resentment over his five-hour detention yesterday.

A team, led by former Malir SSP Rao Anwar, took MQM leader in custody from his residence in Buffer Zone neighbourhood of the port city.

Following the arrest, several MQM workers showed up outside the residence of Izhar and chanted slogans in favour of their party, which has been facing police action for the last month when they attacked a private TV channel on August 22.

The MQM workers unleashed the attack following a hate speech and anti-Pakistan remarks by their London-living leader. The attack drew ire among political parties and prompted arrest of MQM leaders and workers.

Farooq Sattar, Izhar and Amir Liaquat were held by the Rangers. After their release, Sattar told the media that their party distanced itself from Altaf. Izhar was granted bail in 22 hate speech cases.

The yesterday’s action prompted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and other noted personalities to step in for getting the issue resolved.

Earlier in the day, a police team reported to have raided the residence of Izhar.

At the time of raid, the MQM leader was in a meeting with the PPP leaders at the Chief Minister’s House.

He rushed home where policemen told him that they were in search of ‘MQM’s target killers team chief Raees aka Mamma associated with Korangi Sector.

Later, Rao explained that the raid was conducted for the arrest of the opposition leader but he was out.

Sattar and other MQM parliamentarians also rushed to the site. The MQM leaders were getting out of the house to address the media, when Rao-led squad showed up and handcuffed Izhar.

The MQM leaders asked Rao to either explain the reason or show arrest warrants for Izhar, but he dragged Izhar into armed personnel carrier (APC) vehicle. Farooq Sattar and women, including Izhar’s wife, tried to resist the arrest but the cops took him to the Gadap City police station.

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah suspended the SSP by using his executive powers before Rao reached the police station.

However, the suspended SSP got registered an FIR under Anti Terrorism Sections 7/ATA against Izhar for his alleged involvement in facilitating Altaf Hussain’s hate speeches.

The chief minister directed the IGP to personally take Izhar in custody. Following the CM directives, the MQM leader was shifted to Central Police Office (CPO) from where he was released after fulfilling legal formalities.

Sources in police said that Izhar was released under the Section 497 (2) on personal bonds and he will get bail today.

Talking to the media at the Gadap police station, Rao said cops “needn’t IGP’s permission to arrest a culprit”.

“Only the Sindh government can suspend a police officer for arresting a criminal,” the suspended SSP said.

He added that Izhar was “wanted in various criminal cases, including target killing and cops wanted to grill the MQM leader in connection with May 12 massacre and target killing of policemen and innocent civilians.”

He also hinted at resigning from the police department in protest against discriminatory rule of law.

The suspended SSP said: “He (Farooq Sattar) and others should also be arrested.”  He said Izhar is the “chief of the target killers and FIRs were registered against him”.

“No permission from the speaker was needed for the arrest of any member of provincial assembly (MPA) or member of national assembly (MNA) involved in criminal activities,” Rao explained.

“I have not been ordered by any agency. Whatever I have done is fully lawful. Had I been a close aide of (former president Asif Ali) Zardari, I would not have been suspended,” he held.

The MQM alleged the policemen belonged to the Counter Terrorism Department – a claim the department denied.  Following the CM Sindh orders, a spokesperson for the Sindh police said SSP Rao Anwar was suspended immediately for misusing the authority and violating the discipline and a probe against him was ordered.

“Zone South police chief DIG Azad Khan has been appointed as inquiry officer, who will submit the report on facts and findings soon,” the spokesperson explained.

A meeting of high police officials from Karachi was also held at the office of SSP Malir.

Zone East DIG Kamran Afzal was also removed and his services were surrendered to the federal government while DIG West Zulfiqar was given additional charge of DIG East and Korangi SSP Noman Siddiqui was given the charge of Malir SSP.

Talking to the media, Farooq Sattar dubbed the detention as ‘unjustified and unlawful’.

“I have repeatedly asked Rao Anwar to show arrest warrants but he didn’t pay heed. “Police arrested the MQM leader and took him away after unlawfully entering his home. There were no policewomen though Izhar’s wife and his sister-in-law were present there,” he added.

"What agenda is being followed here?" Sattar asked directly addressing the PM, Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif, Karachi Corps Commander Naveed Mukhtar and the Sindh CM.

"I strongly condemn this arrest. It is becoming clear the issue here is not whether the party is being run from London, or the statements that come from London. The issue is not anti-Pakistan statements. "The issue is an enmity with the MQM and mohajirs," he said.

Terming an ‘obsession the arrests in connection the May 12 carnage: Sattar said: “Nobody is talking about our 64 workers who fell victim to extrajudicial killings. Nobody is talking about our missing workers.”

More than three dozen people were killed in a series of violent clashes between rival political parties in Karachi following MQM’s blockade of former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry’s arrival in the metropolis in 2007.

In the middle of turmoil, PM Nawaz phoned CM Murad and inquired about the issue. According to the premier, arrest of any lawmaker without prior consent of the speaker was unlawful, it was reported.

The prime minister directed the chief minister to ensure rule of law at all costs and take punitive action against policemen for violating law. The CM assured the premier that investigations of the arrest were underway, indicating that a relevant action will be taken as per law.

Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani also regretted the police should inform the speaker before conducting a raid at the residence of any assembly member.