ISLAMABAD - The chief of Mohajir Qaumi Movement (MQM), Afaq Ahmed Khan, has alleged that the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) is upset over rampant extortion in Karachi not because of its opposition to the phenomenon but it does not want sharing the proceeds with other groups.

“It was Altaf Hussain who introduced extortion in the port city through special chits issued to collect money for his party’s public meetings, Zakat donations as well as through collection animal hides,” Afaq said in an interview with TheNation.

He maintained that extortion had been the trademark of Altaf Hussain’s politics in Karachi and other Mohajir-populated cities in Sindh. “They have destroyed the traders’ community and entrepreneurs in Karachi forcing them to relocate their businesses or production units to other places,” he said.

“There is a cutthroat competition between the MQM and the gangs in Lyari involved in the thriving extortion business,” he said, adding that the MQM had collected Rs 150 million for its recent public meeting in Hyderabad. Without sharing details of overnight deal that compelled Altaf and his party to change the decision of boycotting the address by President Asif Ali Zardari to the joint sitting of the Parliament, Afaq questioned the demands of the MQM accepted by the PPP leadership. He also accused blamed Altaf of seeking a ban on the Mohajir Qaumi Movement and making efforts to force him to leave the country.

He accused the Altaf of promoting anarchy in the country through stockpiling of sophisticated smuggled weapons, saying they felt threatened by his party for its demand for total de-weaponisation of Karachi, as the Mohajir Qaumi Movement was trying to bring together all the political and religious parties as well the civil society on the one point agenda.

“This will greatly help people of Karachi to cast their votes without fear,” Afaq Khan said, hoping that this would make Muttahida ineffective in harassing the voters during the next general elections.

Afaq cited the reports of Dr Shoaib Suddle on the hundreds of missing Nato containers, which are believed to have been used by Altaf’s party for stocking a huge volume of sophisticated weapons in the country.

Answering a question about the wall-chalking in Karachi demanding creation of a Mohajir province, Afaq said they were against creation of new provinces on linguistic basis and again alleged that the MQM of Altaf Hussain was involved in the affair.

Replying another question about the plans to participate in the next general elections, Afaq Ahmed Khan said his party would take part in the polls and was busy doing its homework.

On the prospects of an election alliance with other political parties, he said although it was a premature issue, still they were in talks with several other political entities, including the Sindhi nationalist alliance and Awami National Party (ANP).