CHRISTIANS PROTEST TORTURE BY DISSIDENT MQM ACTIVISTS KARACHI, Pakistan (UCAN) -- Leaders of the Christian community here claim that seven of their members were tortured by Mohajir Qaumi Movement (MQM) activists from the "Haqiqi" (real) faction in Landhi, Karachi, for three to four hours.

Pakistan
1992-09-25 00:00:00

The allegation was made at a press conference organized by the Pakistan Christian Congress and attended by leaders of the Christian Democratic Alliance, the Christian Writers´ Defence Council, the Peoples´ Christian Forum and the Pakistan United Christian Welfare Association.

Four of the seven victims were produced before the press. One of them, Feroze Iqbal, who was still unable to walk unassisted due to sever beatings with iron rods, showed his injuries to reporters.

"We were picked up from our homes and brought to a torture chamber housed in a government school in the 4-C area of Landhi. Amanulah Khan, an activist of MQM (H), and his other boys severely tortured us during the night and released us after snatching the money we had," Iqbal recounted.

Buta Masih, Faukh Iqbal and Khursheed, the three others presented to the press, had the same story to tell.

Most of the seven victims are employees of Karachi Metropolitan Corporation. A large number of Karachi Christians work as street sweepers for the city.

Nazir S. Masih, President of the Pakistan Christian Congress, threatened that all 50,000 sweepers of the city, both in the private and public sectors, would go on strike if no action was taken against the culprits.

"We do not have any political affiliations with MQM or any other party. Our only demand is that the rights of minorities should be protected as stipulated in the constitution," Masih told the press.

The MQM was created in 1983 to give a political voice to "mohajirs," Indian Muslims who migrated to Pakistan after the division of the subcontinent in 1947. The mohajirs are considered outsiders in Pakistani society and politics.

The movement came to dominate politics in the city of Karachi, the capital of Sindh province 1,580 kilometers southwest of Islamabad. While its leader Altaf Hussain was revered by millions, the movement was also suspected of employing coercion and violence to keep its hold on power.

Until recently, the MQM was allied with the country´s ruling "Islami Jaamoori Ithad" (Islamic Democratic Alliance). It was also a coalition partner in the Sindh provincial government.

In June, however, the Pakistan Army launched an operation ostensibly aimed at cleaning up corrupt Sindh politics. Supposedly aimed at the rural interior of the province, the army unexpectedly turned on the MQM in Karachi.

In what appeared a coordinated move, dissidents within the MQM, calling themselves MQM (H) waged street battles with MQM regulars and took over many of the movement´s offices while the army looked on.

Meanwhile, the MQM was branded a terrorist group, and numerous "torture chambers" were discovered by security forces, who invited the press to view the discoveries, mostly in Karachi´s poor Jacob Lines and Landhi sectors.

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