KARACHI - Pakistan Rangers Sindh arrested three leaders of pro-Altaf group of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) from outside the Karachi Press Club, here on Saturday.

Two MQM-London’s interim Rabita Committee members were arrested when they reached at the Press Club to address a press conference, and were shifted to an undisclosed place, while a third one was arrested while on his way to the club.

The paramilitary force arrested Professor Dr Hasan Zafar Arif as from outside the Press Club when he arrived there. He was taken away in a mobile van. Another leader, Kunwar Khalid Younus was taken into custody while he was on the way.

Rangers waited for Amjadullah, who had succeeded in entering the Press Club, and nabbed him after almost four hours when he finally came out.

Following the announcement of a press conference by Altaf Hussain camp, the Rangers had started snap checking at the routes leading to the Press Club. They also let the people enter the club after verification.

According to reports, Professor Hasan was sitting on a motorcycle and trying to enter the Press Club when he was approached by Rangers and taken into custody. Video footage showed Rangers escorting the MQM leader and placing him in a mobile outside the Club.

Hours later, another video footage showed Amjadullah being escorted away by law enforcers as he came out of the Press Club.

Earlier on October 15, coordination committee of MQM-London objected to the legitimacy of MQM coordination committee in Pakistan being led by Dr Farooq Sattar. A new committee was announced by the MQM-London to represent the party in Pakistan and the arrested leaders were members of this new committee.

MQM-London leaders Ishaq advocate, Amjadullah Khan and Dr Zafar however had denied there were differences between the committees representing London and Pakistan chapters of MQM.

Following the arrests of the leaders, the London-based party decided to cancel the press conference.

Responding to the arrests, London based leader of MQM, Nadeem Nusrat said it was unfortunate that a legitimate political force was not being allowed to run its affairs. Condemning the arrest, he demanded immediate release of his party’s leaders.

In a message posted on Twitter, MQM-London leader Wasay Jalil said “Amjadullah presented himself to Rangers to arrest from Karachi Press Club”.

The 12-member interim coordination committee was formed by MQM’s London-based leadership in an attempt to regain organisational control of the party which it almost lost following the August 22 incendiary speech of party founder Altaf Hussain.

Dr Arif had recently joined the party along with four other members — Advocate Ishaq, former president of the National Students Federation Momin Khan Momin, Amjadullah Khan and Advocate Idrees Alvi — of the new coordination committee. He is a former faculty member of Karachi University’s philosophy department.

Today’s development comes a week after he addressed a press conference at the Karachi Press Club during which he demanded that the ongoing “anti-MQM” operation be called off forthwith.

The Oct 15 press conference was the first show of strength by Altaf Hussain against Dr Farooq Sattar-led MQM-Pakistan, which had sidelined and disowned him following his Aug 22 speech.

According to a private TV channel, another MQM London Zafar Rajput was detained in Hyderabad. The Rangers personnel also raided residence of Sathi Ishaq but no arrest was made as he was not present there.