LAHORE  - MQM Chief Altaf Hussain is likely to be declared as a “proclaimed offender” in case he skips joining police investigations in connection with a criminal case lodged against him on the complaint of an officer of Pakistan Rangers.

Seasoned police investigators and leading lawyers say Altaf Bhai who denies his party having any military wing has been left with no other choice except to appear before the police to face investigations.

“Once a criminal case is registered by police against a person, he or she has to join investigations. And an accused person can join police probe only after getting pre-arrest bail from a local court or by surrendering to the police. There is no other way,” a top police investigator told The Nation, requesting his identity not to be revealed.

Legal experts say that after a court declares an accused a proclaimed offender, the next step is the pasting of proclamations against the accused at different locations, including the courtroom, police stations, prominent public places and the residence of the accused. The police then submit a challan against the proclaimed offender after which the court starts process of attachment of the properties and freezing of bank accounts of the accused person. Ultimately, the court declares him as an absconder.

After a 30-day time period, the police investigators are bound to declare the accused person as a proclaimed offender. “In case, the accused has been staying abroad, the police will have to write to the Ministry of Interior, asking the authorities to take up the case with the Interpol. Then the accused person could be brought to the country through Interpol,” explained another officer who worked in the Sindh police for a couple of years before joining a deferral government department. Also, the Interior Ministry will have to take up the matter with the Interior Ministry of the country where the accused person has been staying. Even if the accused person is not a Pakistani national, the Interior Ministry can bring him back through the Interpol.

In November, an Islamabad anti-terrorism court (ATC) had declared Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Dr Tahirul Qadri ‘proclaimed offenders’ in a case related to the attack on Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Asmatullah Junejo. An ATC Judge had also issued non-bailable arrest warrants for PTI Chairman Dr Qadri and other senior leaders of both the parties in connection with the FIRs registered against them for storming of the Parliament House and the Pakistan Television (PTV) buildings.

Following the registration of a criminal case against the MQM chief, the government can reach out to the UK authorities at any stage to seek extradition of the accused for the purpose of investigations, said a senior jurist.

Advocate Salman Akram Raja said that on the complaint of a Rangers officer, an FIR against Altaf Hussain has been registered in Karachi. As such in the first instance the local law would be pressed into service for the purpose of collecting evidence, circumstances and other allied material relevant to the alleged offence.

Raja said that in the next phase the international law can come into play to seek extradition of Altaf Hussain which can take place at any stage from the investigations to the judicial proceedings. He added Pakistan has an extradition treaty for the exchange of accused persons with United Kingdom, but only the federal government can opt for it either on the call of investigations or to meet the judicial demand.

The police registered (FIR No 30/2015) under Section 506-B of the PPC that calls for punishment for criminal intimidation as well as Section 7 of Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 1997 that calls for punishment for terrorist acts.

A senior officer on condition of anonymity explained that 506-B has been incorporated in the Pakistan Penal Code for serious threat cases and the first information report (FIR) is lodged when it is confirmed that the threat was given to the complainant.

A day earlier, the Pakistan Rangers (Sindh) got a criminal case registered against self-exiled MQM chief Altaf Hussain for allegedly threatening them, dealing a serious blow to the party after the arrest of a large number of its workers during the past few days.

Altaf Hussain reportedly issued a veiled life threat to the Rangers officials who carried out a targeted operation in the wee hours of March 11 at Nine Zero.

The complainant, Colonel Tahir Mehmood, in his application citied a local news channel programme in which Altaf Hussain allegedly threatened Rangers officials. The applicant quoted Altaf’s statement: “Rangers officers who raided my house “Woh thay nahin, thay hogaye… aur ho jaingay”. The Rangers termed the words of MQM chief as a life threat to the officials of the paramilitary force.