Arrest of Exiled Leader in U.K. Sets Off Violence in Pakistan

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
June 3 2014 1:26 PM

Arrest of Self-Exiled Leader in U.K. Sets Off Violence in Pakistan

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A supporter of Pakistan's MQM party carries a photograph of leader Altaf Hussain.

Photo by RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images

Despite having lived in self-imposed exile in the United Kingdon since the early '90s, Altaf Hussain is one of Pakistan's most influential political leaders. Hussain was arrested today by British police on suspicion of money laundering, and the reaction 4,000 miles away in Pakistan has been violent.  

Unrest broke out in Karachi, Pakistan—Hussain's hometown—soon after word of his arrest, and the Karachi Stock Exchange dropped 400 points. Hussain is the leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), a secular leftist political party created to represent Urdu speakers in Karachi. Eyewitnesses told the BBC and The Telegraph that MQM supporters were firing guns and setting cars, rickshaws and shops ablaze.

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Specifics of the charges against Hussain aren't yet available, but "the MQM is often accused of extorting money from businesses in Karachi and shipping the money to the UK," the BBC says.

Irene Chidinma Nwoye is a writer and former Slate intern in New York City. Follow her on Twitter.

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