Pakistan Protests Abandoned After MQM’s Hussain Released

Violent protests that rocked Karachi this week were called off after police in London released Altaf Hussain, the Pakistani politician whose arrest sparked the unrest.

“Scotland Yard has accepted bail application and allowed him to go home,” Aminul Haque, a Muttahida Qaumi Movement spokesman for Hussain, said in a telephone interview. The police said that the man arrested on June 3 had been released on bail until a date in July pending further inquiries.

After reports of Hussain’s arrest this week, cars and buses were torched in Karachi, Pakistan’s biggest city and its commercial hub, which has been under MQM control since 1986. Local authorities said they suspected the actions were in retaliation to the arrest. The benchmark KSE 100 index fell to its lowest in a month on the news.

Protest camps across Pakistan have been wound up after Altaf Hussain addressed workers by phone from London, “thanked them, congratulated them, and told them that they should go home now,” Haque said. “Since the basic demand of the workers was met, that they wanted to hear the voice of their leader, all workers and supporters packed their stuff and went home.”

U.K. police started a probe last year after the killing in London in 2010 of a senior party leader, Imran Farooq. Hussain’s house was searched as part of the investigation and police found 400,000 pounds ($672,000) that was undocumented.

“We have receipts and evidence the money was donated to the party,” Babar Khan Ghauri, MQM leader and a lawmaker in Pakistan’s Senate, said earlier this week. “We have nothing to worry about. We are cooperating and will provide this proof when the time comes.”

In an e-mailed statement, London’s Metropolitan Police said it released on bail a 60-year-old man arrested on June 3 on suspicion of money laundering. It didn’t identify the man, in line with its custom.

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