Pakistan

KARACHI – Leaders of Muttahida Qaumi Movement greeted their jailed colleague and mayor of Karachi, Waseem Akhtar, after he was released on bail in the last of 39 cases against him.

Akhtar had been behind bars since July 19, 2016 when an ATC dismissed his pre-arrest bail application in the same case. He had been facing trial in 39 cases ranging from facilitation of terrorists and hate speech.

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Around 30 of the 39 cases pending against him are related to listening and facilitating of the speeches of MQM’s founder Altaf Hussain. Some eight cases are in connection with violence in Karachi on May 12, 2007.

An anti-terrorism court in Karachi on Wednesday granted bail to Waseem Akhtar and PPP’s Abdul Qadir Patel in a case pertaining to the facilitation and provision of medical treatment to alleged terrorists and gangsters at PPP leader Dr Asim Hussain’s hospital.

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The ATC judge granted Akhtar and Patel bail against a surety bond of Rs500,000 each on the grounds that the Sindh High Court had previously granted bail to others co-accused in the same case.

Earlier, Akhtar was granted bail in 38 cases, while four people, including the prime suspect in the case Dr Asim Hussain have already been granted bail in this case.

Other co-accused in the case Rauf Saddiqui, Anees Qaimkhani and Usman Moazzam had been granted bail by the Sindh High Court, whereas Saleem Shahzad has been declared an absconder in the case.

‘Warm welcome’

Akhtar got a warm welcome from MQM leaders Dr Farooq Sattar, Dr Rauf Siddiqui, Faisal Sabzwari, and hundreds of party workers outside the central jail.

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Friends and families were also there to receive the jailed mayor, with whom they made selfies.

Waseem Akhtar’s wife expressed her joy. “Those who filed fake cases against him should also be investigated,” she said.

Deputy mayor Arshad Vohra said that Akhtar would be accorded a rousing welcome and a rally would be staged till Mazar-e-Quaid. “His office his ready. We are waiting for him. Together we will restore lights to this city,” Vohra said.

Akhtar will also pay his respects at the Shuhada graveyard and then visit the MQM-P’s temporary office in PIB Colony.

Leader of Opposition in Sindh Assembly Khawaja Izhar ul Hassan said that he was sure that only the courts could give them justice. “One Waseem Akhtar has been released. Several others are still in jail.”

“If local bodies representatives do not get rights we will hold protests and also approach the court,” he warned.

He added that doors of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan were always open for former governor Ishrat ul Ebad and former president General (Retd) Pervez Musharraf.

‘Book on jail ordeal’

The Karachi mayor says he will write a book about time he spent in prison. “Time spent in the Karachi and Adiala jails was the worst in my life,” Wassem Akhtar told the media after being released from jail.

He said he will withdraw his salary from the bank. “All the bail money was covered through loans from friends,” he added.