Musharraf’s NRO benefited MQM the most

Friday, June 26, 2015
From Print Edition

7 0 1 0

ISLAMABAD: The MQM, currently the focus of all and sundry for its alleged connection with crime and terror, received extraordinary help during Musharraf’s tenure when criminal cases against more than 3,500 MQM leaders and workers were withdrawn as part of the NRO issued by the-then dictator for his personal political gains.

Despite the declaration of the NRO as null and void by the apex court, not only were these cases never revived, the official record also went missing and today the provincial Home Department has no clue as to who had benefited from Musharraf’s decision.

The then prosecutor general, Sindh, Rana Shamim Ahmad, now chairman Pakistan Press Council, confirmed to The News that almost 3,500 MQM leaders and workers had benefited from the NRO. He explained that a review board was set up under Justice (retd) Ghaus Muhammad, which had recommended the withdrawal of thousands of criminal cases against almost 3,500 MQM leaders and workers.

He said that the review board’s recommendations were approved by the then chief minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim and implemented as well.The real challenge for the federal or the provincial government today is how to find the details of the cases withdrawn by the Musharraf regime in 2007 as the record is missing.According to media reports, the federal government approached the Sindh government a few months back, inquiring about the details of the NRO beneficiaries who were booked for criminal offences. However, the home and law departments could not find the record of the withdrawal cases.

“The cases were withdrawn earlier, so it is not our responsibility to maintain the record,” an official source was quoted as saying, adding that they were still trying to trace the missing data.

Around 3,576 cases, registered between 1986 and 1999, were withdrawn in 2007 under the NRO. Declaring these cases as ‘politically motivated’, the NRO allowed pardon to nearly 8,000 people, mostly belonging to the MQM, charged with corruption, murders and kidnappings.

In 2010, the Supreme Court had also sought the detail of these cases from the Sindh government but the then home secretary could not find the required record. The then chief justice had ordered the home secretary to provide a list of all criminal cases, which were abolished under the NRO in Sindh.

According to a statement of the then Sindh law minister Ayaz Soomro, as many as 3,576 cases were withdrawn under the NRO in Sindh.

It was claimed that over 3,500 criminal cases were registered against different leaders and activists of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement in Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Mirpurkhas and Nawabshah. These cases were withdrawn as part of the reconciliation policy for which a review board was formed under the supervision of retired Justice Ghaus Mohammad. The members of the board had included Law Secretary Ghulam Nabi Shah and the then AG Khwaja Naveed Ahmed.

It is said that the dozens of cases were also withdrawn against MQM chief Altaf Hussain, Dr Farooq Sattar and others.According to media reports, the provincial home department in the past had approached the jail authorities for the missing record but the jail officials also could not find it. It was also said that the record pertaining to the criminals released on parole in the aftermath of the NRO had also gone missing.

Contrary to the media reports, a former prosecutor general Sindh Shahadat Awan claimed that only six cases were withdrawn under the NRO and all of them were revived following the apex court’s order in the NRO case.