– Leader of controversial MQM party Altaf Hussein’s speeches banned from being aired in Pakistan

By Aamir Latif

KARACHI, Pakistan – The fiery phoned-in speeches of the London-based politician Altaf Hussein have been banned by a Pakistani court on Monday.

The country’s broadcast regulator was ordered to prevent any airing of Hussein’s live speeches for “targeting the state of Pakistan and the armed forces.”

Hussein, the head of the controversial Karachi-based Muttehida Qumi Movement (MQM), lives in self-imposed exile in London but often delivers speeches to his supporters in Pakistan by phone.

In recent months he has accused the military of targeting his party after hundreds of MQM activists were arrested for alleged involvement in the targeted killings of political opponents and security forces, extortion and other crimes.

MQM initially claimed to represent the Urdu-speaking migrants who moved to Pakistan with the partition of India in 1947 and has strong influence in southern Sindh province but has been accused of operating like an organized gang through its alleged use of violence and intimidation.

A security crackdown against militants and gangs in the commercial capital Karachi has also affected MQM, with its party offices being raided earlier this year.

The crackdown has seen more than 300 suspected drug traffickers and 200 suspected Taliban fighters killed in clashes with security forces in Karachi over the last ten months, though local media have speculated over whether some of the deaths were extra-judicial killings.

MQM has over 80 parliamentarians in national and provincial assemblies; though they staged a mass resignation two weeks ago to protest the crackdown, their resignations have not been accepted.