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Wake up Pakistan ! Presently the Muslim societies are in a state of ideological confusion and flux. Materialism, terrorism,...

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Candy floss and cyanide: Breeding grounds for terrorists?

Ever been approached by a member of the Tableeghi Jamat (TJ)? How soft-spoken and friendly they sound. So much so that even if you disagree with their overly ritualistic interpretation of the faith, you can’t help but listen to them before (politely) excusing yourself.

However, recently when a TV anchor did a show on the leader of this Islamic evangelical movement, Tariq Jamil, and criticised some of his ways, the anchor was bombarded with the kind of unhinged comments (on social media) that are usually associated with the notorious ‘PTI trolls’.

Crude, crass, abusive and entirely reactionary. One was surprised at how easily the veneer of gentility that usually defines the personalities of TJ members and of their supporters rubs off at the first sign of criticism.

The attacks on the (liberal) anchor were so rapid and abusive that it even made the anchor’s (more conservative) companion on the show Tweet that ‘Tariq Jamil is no prophet that he cannot be criticised’.

Late last year, the former Interior Minister Rehman Malik had also come down hard on the TJ, claiming that the evangelical movement had become a breeding ground for extremists. His statement understandably ruffled quite a few feathers, especially from within parties like the moderate-right PML-N and the Islamic JUI-F.

PML-N’s Sharif brothers have had close links with the TJ, and the JUI-F follows the Sunni Deobandi school of thought that the TJ too adheres to.

Also, quite a large number of TJ members are from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), the province from where the JUI-F draws the bulk of its electoral support.

For long the TJ has been viewed as a benign movement that distances itself from mainstream politics and militancy, focusing instead on propagating ‘correct’ Islamic rites and attire, and ritualistic paraphernalia in tune with the Deobandi line of thinking.

The TJ was formed in the late 1920s to supposedly ‘cleanse Islam from Hindu and Sikh influences’ in the subcontinent.

However, after Pakistan’s creation in 1947 the TJ was more successful in attracting positive attention from Pakistanis living abroad than from those living in the country.

Based in Raiwind in the Punjab, the TJ membership and appeal, however, got a two-fold boost after the arrival of the reactionary Ziaul Haq dictatorship in 1977.

This was the time when Zia used a part of CIA and Arab funds (dished out for the anti-Soviet Mujahideen insurgency in Afghanistan) on constructing a number of indoctrination centres in the shape of seminaries. The rise in the TJ’s fortunes was thus a product of the proliferation of the more puritanical strands of Islam during the Zia regime.

By the late 1980s, the TJ became successful in also attracting membership from the country’s trader classes, especially in the Punjab and KP. In the 1990s it began attracting the interest of certain prominent sections of Pakistan’s affluent middle-classes, including certain pop musicians, TV actors and eventually cricketers.

Throughout the (Sunni-Shia) sectarian turmoil that the country faced in the 1980s and 1990s, the TJ however, remained free to preach and recruit. It was always believed to be a harmless movement that had no political, sectarian or militant motives.

However, since the country’s Sunni majority remains 'Barelvi', a parallel evangelical movement emerged in the 1980s. ‘Barelvi Islam’ emerged in the 19th century India as a Sunni Muslim infusion concocted from elements of Sufism and ‘folk-Islam’. It is opposed to the Deobandi branch of South Asian Islam and both the Sunni sub-sects have been embroiled in vicious polemical battles for over 150 years.

Called the Dawat-i-Islami, the new evangelical movement claims to represent the Barelvi majority’s spiritual interests. Also seen as non-political, the Dawat, however, has been accused of containing members that have graduated to becoming members of some Barelvi militant organisations.

The guard who shot dead Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer (for ‘blasphemy’) in 2011 was also a former member of the Dawat.

On the other end, when Rehman Malik spoke about the TJ it was the first time a member of a sitting government in Pakistan had accused the outfit of breeding possible recruits for various hard-core Islamist organisations.

Alarms in this respect were first raised by some western observers when in the mid and late 1990s, the former chief of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, Lt Gen Javed Nasir, became a staunch member of the TJ. This was also the time the TJ was making in-roads into the Pakistan army.

Though known for his staunch Islamist views, Lt Gen Nasir’s entry into TJ’s fold was seen as being only incidental and the TJ continued to recruit and preach freely.

But the accusations (though suppressed in Pakistan) kept coming. The TJ’s name came up in connection with terrorism plots, such as in October 2002 in the US (the Portland Seven case) and the September 2002 Lackawanna Six case (also in the US).The TJ was mentioned again in the August 2006 in a plot to bomb airliners en route from London to the United States, and in the 7/7 bombings in London in 2005.

However, TJ as an organisation was not directly accused in any of the cases because most of the accused men were said to be members of various violent Islamist organisations. TJ's name only came up when the accused were also said to have been a part of the TJ at some point before their final radicalisation and entry into more militant and radical outfits.

In 2008, the Spanish police arrested 14 Asian Muslims for allegedly planning to attack various places in Spain. Twelve were Pakistanis. A Spanish Muslim leader claimed that all of these men had once been members of the TJ. Though counter-terrorism experts have understandably focused their studies more on the militant groups, in the last five years or so, many of them have now begun to also study the dynamics of evangelical groups like the TJ.

They believe that in spite of the fact that TJ’s primary function remains to be non-political and almost entirely evangelical, its rather secretive organisational structure and the goodwill that it enjoys among most Pakistanis allows elements from extremist organisations to use TJ as a recruiting ground for more violent purposes. They say that most young men joining the TJ are more vulnerable to the Islamists’ propaganda due to the TJ’s conservative social orientation.

Rehman Malik was not shooting in the air. He was merely pointing out yet another area of concern in a country being torn apart by men committing violence in the name of faith. His statement only became controversial because very few Pakistanis are aware of the potential of the TJ unwittingly allowing the polluting of its pond with rotten fish.

By Nadeem F. Piracha: http://www.dawn.com/news/1046248/smokers-corner-candy-floss-and-cyanide
  1. Tablighi Jamaat: An Indirect Line to Terrorism | Stratfor

    Jan 23, 2008 - The Tablighi Jamaat name has come up many times in connection with terrorism plots, including the 2006 scheme to bomb airliners en route ...
  2. Tablighi Jamaat - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    2009 Malaysian Annual Congregation of Tablighi Jamaat Sepang Selangor, Malaysia ..... "Tablighi Jamaat: An Indirect Line to Terrorism". Stratfor Intelligence.
  3. Channel4 Report-Terrorist Tablighi Jamaat Spreading Terrorism (As ...

    Apr 2, 2010 - Uploaded by hammadalqadri
    Tablighi Jamaat Is A Silent Recruiting Wing Of Deviant & Terrorist Cult Of Deobandism, The Subcontinental ...
  4. No shelter for terrorists: Tablighi Jamaat hits back at WikiLeaks ...

    May 11, 2011 - New Delhi: Amid much support from several Muslim quarters for Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) over the issue of its alleged connection with Al Qaeda, the ...
  5. Tablighi Jamaat centre Raiwind breeding ground for terrorists ...

    Jul 31, 2011 - JNN 31 July 2011 LONDON: Interior Minister Of Pakistan Rehman Malik has said that Tablighi missionary centre in Raiwaind is the breeding ...

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Terror is bound to be defeated: A Historic Reality

In Pakistan, we confront the  terrorism. Knowing that their goals cannot be achieved through popular support, they resort to violence as a means to weaken the government and its agencies. The result is that innocent lives are lost in near-daily incidents of bomb explosions and attacks.

Acts of violence can create anarchy and disorder in the society but they cannot change the regime.

Historical studies show that terrorist groups have power and energy only for a limited period of time until their resources are exhausted and they have no option but to abandon violence and turn to negotiations. This happened in case of the IRA and Basque separatist movements.

In Pakistan, the terrorists must face the defeat. Sooner or later they must negotiate for a settlement. The question is when that moment will come, and at what cost. Let's look at the history in brief:

There are many examples in history where dictatorial and revolutionary governments have used terror to eliminate opponents and to establish an unchallenged rule of an individual or a group of radicals. In the case of resistance movements, nationalist terror becomes a tool to expel occupying foreign powers and to liberate the country.

There is a third category of terrorism, where disgruntled and dissatisfied groups, having lost all hopes of changing the system through legal and constitutional means, attempt to destroy the administrative set up and make governance impossible. The state and its institutions become sabotaged and the result is disorder and chaos.

In 1793, the French revolution turned into a reign of terror when its moderate period came to an end. France was governed by the Committee of Public Safety, and Danton and Robespierre were influential members.

The radical group known as the Jacobins assumed power in order to root out all old traditions and institutions. Since they wanted to transform the society on the basis of revolutionary ideals, and had zero tolerance for opposition or hindrance in the execution of their plan, thousands of people were condemned and sent to the guillotine. For the first time in history, terror became an official government policy, with an aim to use violence in order to achieve a higher political goal.

The terror was legal, having been voted for by the Convention. Nearly 40,000 people were executed including the Jacobin leaders who were at forefront of the revolution. It is said that the revolution devours its own children, hence Danton and Robespierre, the radical leaders were condemned and guillotined. Though the reign of terror ended, it weakened the Jacobins and radical elements.

Soon began a counter revolution. Tired and exhausted from the reign of terror, the wheel now spun in a different direction. Young people from wealthy backgrounds, known as the gilded youth, led a movement and began to destroy all symbols and traces of the revolution. They attacked the Jacobin clubs, disrupted their meetings, and terrorised the former leaders of the revolution.

They destroyed the memorial of Jean Paul Marat, one of the most outspoken leaders of the French Revolution who was killed by Charlotte Corday, the daughter of an impoverished aristocrat and an ally of the Girondists. They stormed hotels, coffee houses and restaurants where the radical groups often met.

The Jacobins, who executed their own members, were now a weak party and as a result there was no strong group to left to counter the gilded youth.

We find a similar case in Russia where Stalin’s secret police or the KGB inflicted large-scale purges, terror and forced depopulation on the people of the Soviet Union. Consequently, the foundation of the Russian revolution became weak. The absolute rule of Stalin silenced the intellectuals and creative people in order to provide new ideology to the revolutionary government.

In Nazi Germany, Hitler became so powerful that nobody dared to challenge his authority. The Gestapo arrested and executed all those who opposed the Nazi regime. The result of this terror was that intellectuals, scientists and professionals left Germany to take refuge in other European countries and the USA. The German universities became barren as the intellectual element in the society suffered. Both Russia and Germany confronted state terrorism and ultimately, the whole system collapsed.

In some instances nationalist resistance movements used terror against occupying forces in their country; like the Carbonari in Italy launched a movement against France and Austria.

In Russia, Ireland, Spain and Sri Lanka, extremist groups launched campaigns against their own governments.

In Sri Lanka, the Tamil Tigers who were well-organised and resourceful eventually lost their energy to fight and were defeated by the government forces. In the subcontinent, a terrorist movement began to oust the British colonial powers but was crushed by the government agencies.
By Mubarik Ali:  http://www.dawn.com/news/1046246/past-present-tales-of-terror

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Women & the Veil

WHEN Saima, my late mother’s maid, first joined our staff, she used to wear the full burqa. But after a bit, when she saw that neither my mother, nor her relatives and friends who visited the house covered themselves, she felt relaxed enough to take her black, all-encompassing garb off when she was indoors.

When I got to know her better, I teased her about this: “Saima, why don’t you cover yourself in the house when men often visit? And other members of the staff are male, so how come you cover yourself outside the house, but not inside?”

Her reply was entirely sensible: “I don’t wear the burqa for religious reasons; but if I don’t wear it outside, men say lewd things and stare at me.” This says less about her faith than it does about our society, with all its difficulties and dangers for women.

Just how dangerous was made clear in the recent Human Rights Commission report that highlighted the violence, rapes and honour killings rampant in Pakistan. Instead of improving, things are getting worse, largely because perpetrators of crimes against women almost invariably get away unpunished.

I was reminded of Saima by two recent cases involving the full niqab in the UK.

In the first, a college in Birmingham first banned the full, face-covering veil, and then backed down in the face of protests. In another, a judge barred a young woman from covering her face in court, but then relented with the proviso that she must allow the jury to see her face while she was giving evidence.

While the full burqa has been banned in public places in France and Belgium, Britain has resisted calls to follow suit. Even the Conservative-led coalition government is against the state getting involved in this debate.

Teresa May, the home secretary, declared that women should be free to decide what they want to wear. This statement followed a call for a national debate on the subject by a junior minister in her department.

The entire discussion has put liberals and feminists on the spot: on the one hand, they defend the right of women to dress as they please. But they also deplore Muslim women being forced to cover themselves up by family and social pressure.

However, the reality is that in most cases, many young Muslim women born and raised in the UK choose to wear the hijab or headscarf, and more rarely, the niqab or the full burqa.

In most cases, this attire is worn more as a badge of identity than a religious duty.

In fact, Islamic texts call upon women to dress modestly, but not to envelop themselves from head to toe, leaving only the eyes visible. This is why burqas and niqabs are relatively rare across the Muslim world. Working women, especially in the fields, simply could not function in them.

When writing about the subject at the time the French debate on the full veil was going on, I thought I should try this garb myself. Accordingly, I donned a black burqa that had a mesh over the eyes, and covered my entire body.

My whole world shrank to a small rectangle; my movements were restricted; and I felt hot and claustrophobic. As I wrote at the time, any man who makes his wife, daughter or sister wear this attire should put it on himself first.

But wearing the full veil in male-dominated, violent countries like Pakistan is very different from putting it on in liberal societies like the UK.

In the former case, the garment is for self-protection, while in the latter, it is mostly about identity. And even though the number of women wearing the full burqa in the UK is tiny, the outfit does arouse irrational anger. As Maleiha Malik, a professor of law, wrote recently in the Guardian:

“Today’s debates about, and treatment of, veiled Muslim women are akin to the way heretics, lepers and Jews were treated in mediaeval Europe… [In the post 9/11 era] Political elites have exaggerated, rather than alleviated, understandable popular anxieties about Muslim religious differences in ways that often make reasonable debates impossible…”

While political correctness makes it difficult for my British friends to be openly critical about veils when discussing the issue with me, they do express one reasonable concern. Why should many young Muslim girls at school be deprived of pursuits like games, swimming and dramatics due to their constraining outfits?

Apart from depriving them of healthy activities, their parents also prevent them from sharing these experiences with non-Muslim friends, and thus diminishing the benefits of a liberal education. So while young women from other migrant groups are represented on the stage and the sports fields across Britain, few Muslims are.

Does this matter? Yes, if you are born and brought up in a country that you now call your own, and where you would like to be gainfully employed.

Maleiha Malik proposes an internal debate on the veil within Muslim communities. However, given the divisions that exist among Britain’s three million or so Muslims, it is hard to see how a consensus can be developed on this, or any other, subject.

I often wonder why this is not a political issue in the United States which also has a substantial Muslim population. I suspect one reason could be that the unemployed there do not enjoy the same benefits they do in much of Europe.

Here, if you can’t get a job because you insist on wearing the full veil or an unkempt beard, you can go on the dole.

For a liberal like me, this is a lose-lose debate: on the one hand, all my instincts say women should be free to dress as they choose; on the other, I don’t want to see young Muslim women being marginalised and stigmatised because they insist on antagonising the mainstream by their extreme attire.

From "Behind the veil" By Irfan Hussain: http://www.dawn.com/news/1044320/behind-the-veil
Redefining Muslim women in history
OXFORD University Press, Lahore, invited Farida Shaheed, the coauthor of Great Ancestors: Women Claiming Rights in Muslim Contexts, to talk about her book. The audience comprised students as well as seasoned scholars. Ateeb Gul, an editor at Oxford, did a good job moderating the session. Shaheed started by explaining how the initial idea was to prepare a training module for women working for their rights in Muslim societies and to mobilise new activists. The project was supported by the organisation, Women Living Under Muslim Laws.

Shaheed highlighted that there is a `misconception in Muslim societies that the struggle for women`s rights is confined, historically and geographically, to European and North American locations.` She explained how, as an academic and an activist, she was offended by this `myth` every time she came across it. Yet, it enjoys credibility that women`s rights in Muslim societies are an alien idea and whoever works for them is promoting some `foreign` agenda. The misconception is not only confined to Muslim societies but also to some people in non-Muslim cultures that see Muslim women as passive and silent victims. So prevalent is this misconception that any example of brave Muslim women resisting patriarchal values, whether in the past or present, is brushed aside as an exception. Shaheed emphasised that this `myth` has been repeated so often, in public as well as in our private lives, that we consider it reality.

Calling it a `dangerous myth,` Shaheed stressed for it to be `challenged, debunked, and laid to rest.` It is promoted by the opponents of gender equality in Muslim societies, she said. Without completely shattering it, the majority of women will keep fearing to speak out for their rights, afraid of being treated as the `other`, as someone who has imported these `problematic` and `negative` ideas from foreign cultures.

The main thesis of Great Ancestors, Shaheed said, is that the women living in Muslim societies have struggled for a more just society in every era and every region.

The book provides around some 500 examples from the eighth to the mid-20th century where women living in Muslim contexts strived either for their individual rights or struggled for better conditions for women as a whole.

Shaheed`s aim was to bring forth an alternate reality, a reality that has been completely erased from our history textbooks. She has tried to rediscover the narratives of expanding the rights and personal spaces of women from numerous historical moments. The lives of our great ancestors narrated in the book can be a catalyst for rethinking `Muslim womanhood` as a socially and historically constructed identity. It is essential for women living in Muslim societies to read their history for themselves. As Fatima Mernissi points out in her book The Forgotten Queens of Islam,women cannot count on anyone to read their history for them. In the book Mernissi gave several examples of female queens in Arab history, to the surprise of many.

However, unlike The Forgotten Queens of Islam, Great Ancestors brings forth the stories of not only queens and powerful women but of women from all walks of life including poets, scholars, sufis, rulers, artists, and rights activists.

The question-answer session brought further vibrancy to the debate when a member of the audience questioned the utility of historical examples when Islamic texts are used by most religious scholars to undermine the project of gender equality. In response, Shaheed qualified that her book `is not about theology or the religion of Islam or even women`s lives in relation to Islam.` The purpose of the book, she said, is `to elucidate examples of women who defied culturally defined gender norms to assert their right to be different and to change their society.

This further engaged the audience in a discussion on what is more important for bringing about social change: presenting facts, countering the established norms or challenging the prevalent theories through abstract arguments. To this, Shaheed underlined the importance of historical narratives by stating that history is not merely a collection of stories: `By telling us who we have been, history defines for a people a sense of self that funnels into and guides a sense of potential tomorrows.`
By Umair Khan- http://epaper.dawn.com/~epaper/DetailImage.php?StoryImage=22_09_2013_462_002

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Altaf Hussain MQM Chief- Pakistani’s Iron Grip, Wielded in Opulent Exile, Begins to Slip

For two decades, Altaf Hussain has run his brutal Pakistani political empire by remote control, shrouded in luxurious exile in London and long beyond the reach of the law.
He follows events through satellite televisions in his walled-off home, manages millions of dollars in assets and issues decrees in ranting teleconferences that last for hours — all to command a network of influence and intimidation that stretches from North America to South Africa.

This global system serves a very localized goal: perpetuating Mr. Hussain’s reign as the political king of Karachi, the brooding port city of 20 million people at the heart of Pakistan’s economy.

“Distance does not matter,” reads the inscription on a monument near Mr. Hussain’s deserted former house in Karachi, where his name evokes both fear and favor.

Now, though, his painstakingly constructed web is fraying.

A British murder investigation has been closing in on Mr. Hussain, 59, and his party, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement. His London home and offices have been raided, and the police have opened new investigations into accusations of money laundering and inciting violence in Pakistan.

The scrutiny has visibly rattled Mr. Hussain, who recently warned supporters that his arrest may be imminent. And in Karachi, it has raised a previously unthinkable question: Is the end near for the untouchable political machine that has been the city’s linchpin for three decades?

“This is a major crisis,” said Irfan Husain, the author of “Fatal Faultlines,” a book about Pakistan’s relationship with the United States. “The party has been weakened, and Altaf Hussain is being criticized like never before.”

Mr. Hussain’s rise offers a striking illustration of the political melee in Pakistan.

His support stems from the Mohajirs, Urdu-speaking Muslims whose families moved to Pakistan after the partition from India in 1947, and who make up about half of Karachi’s population. Since the 1980s, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement has fiercely defended Mohajir interests, and in turn it has been carried to victory in almost every election and to an enduring place in national coalition governments as well.

Mr. Hussain fled to London in 1992, when the movement was engaged in a vicious street battle with the central government for supremacy in Karachi. The British government granted him political asylum and, 10 years later, a British passport.

London has long been the antechamber of Pakistani politics, where self-exiled leaders take refuge until they can return. The former military ruler Pervez Musharraf lived here until recently, and the current prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, lived here until 2007.

Mr. Hussain, however, shows no sign of going back. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement has an office in Edgware, in northwest London. But these days Mr. Hussain is mostly at home, in a redbrick suburban house protected by raised walls, security cameras and a contingent of former British soldiers he has hired as bodyguards.

From there, he holds court, addressing his faraway followers in a vigorous, sometimes maniacal style, punctuated by jabbing gestures and hectoring outbursts. Occasionally he bursts into song, or tears. Yet, on the other end of the line, it is not unusual to find tens of thousands of people crowded into a Karachi street, listening raptly before an empty stage containing Mr. Hussain’s portrait, as his disembodied voice booms from speakers.

“The cult of personality surrounding Altaf Hussain is quite extraordinary,” said Farzana Shaikh, an academic and the author of “Making Sense of Pakistan.” “He is immensely charismatic, in the way one thinks of the great fascist leaders of the 20th century.”

In Karachi, his overwhelmingly middle-class party is fronted by sharply dressed, well-spoken men — and a good number of women — and it has won a reputation for efficient city administration. But beneath the surface, its mandate is backed by armed gangs involved in racketeering, abduction and the targeted killings of ethnic and political rivals, the police and diplomats say.

Other major Pakistani parties indulge in similar behavior, but the Muttahida Qaumi Movement frequently brings the most muscle to the fight. An American diplomatic cable from 2008 titled “Gangs of Karachi,” which was published by WikiLeaks, cited estimates that the party had an active militia of 10,000 gunmen, with an additional 25,000 in reserve — a larger force, the dispatch notes, than the city police.

Many journalists who have criticized the party have been beaten, or worse, driving most of the news media in Karachi to tread lightly. In June, the Committee to Protect Journalists, a lobbying group based in New York, accused the party of organizing the killing of Wali Khan Babar, a television reporter.

In the West, the party has avoided critical attention partly because it has cast itself as an enemy of Islamist militancy. In 2001, Mr. Hussain wrote a letter to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, offering to help Britain set up a spy network against the Taliban.

Critics of the party have frequently questioned the role of British officials in facilitating its unusual system of governance. Pakistani exiles from Baluchistan, also accused of fomenting violence, have faced criminal prosecution. But Britain is not the only node of Mr. Hussain’s international support network.

Through the Pakistani diaspora, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement has active branches as far afield as the United States, Canada and even South Africa, which has become an important financial hub and a haven for the group’s enforcers, Pakistani investigators say.

Two police interrogation reports obtained by The New York Times cite militants from the movement who say they traveled to South Africa in between carrying out political assassinations in Karachi. One of those men, Teddy Qamar, confessed to 58 killings between 2006 and 2012, the police say. In an interview, Anis Hasan, the party’s joint organizer for South Africa, denied any link to organized violence.

But if Mr. Hussain seemed immune to scrutiny at his London stronghold, his luck started to turn in September 2010 after Imran Farooq, a once-influential leader in the movement who had split from the party, was stabbed to death near his house in Edgware.

Soon after, Mr. Hussain appeared on television, mourning Mr. Farooq with a flood of tears. But over the past year, the police investigation has turned sharply in his direction.

In December, officers from Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command searched the movement’s London office. Then in June they went to Mr. Hussain’s home and arrested Iftikhar Hussain, his cousin and personal assistant, who is now out on bail. The police impounded $600,000 in cash and some jewelry under laws that target the proceeds of crime.

Mr. Hussain was not available for an interview, his party said. But a senior party official, Nadeem Nusrat, speaking at the movement’s London office, denied any link to Mr. Farooq’s killing. “Our conscience is clear,” Mr. Nusrat said. “We have nothing to do with it.”

Mr. Nusrat said the impounded money had come from political donations. And he rejected accusations, also the subject of a police inquiry, that Mr. Hussain has directly threatened political rivals, in some instances by warning that he would arrange for their “body bags.”

“It’s all taken out of context,” Mr. Nusrat said.

Mr. Hussain has receded from public view during the recent furor. There have been rumors about mounting health problems, which Mr. Hussain’s aides deny. But he cannot return to Pakistan, they say, because the Taliban could kill him. “In Pakistan,” said Muhammad Anwar, a longtime aide, “nobody can guarantee your life.”

Then there are the legal threats: over the years, dozens of murder charges have been lodged against Mr. Hussain in Pakistan, although some have been quashed in court. A more pressing question, perhaps, concerns the impact on the streets of Karachi if Mr. Hussain is forced to step down.

Some fear that without his guiding hand, tensions within the movement could split it into hostile factions — a frightening prospect in a city where political violence already claims hundreds of lives a year.

“However viciously the party conducts itself, there is an order within the apparent disorder,” said Ms. Shaikh, the academic.

Even if the British government wished to crack down on Mr. Hussain, she added, it might find itself subject to appeals from the Pakistani authorities. “The fear of Karachi going up in flames is so great,” Ms. Shaikh said, “that no government can take that risk, as long as Altaf Hussain is alive.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: September 17, 2013

An article on Friday about the declining influence of the exiled Pakistani political leader Altaf Hussain misstated the given name of his cousin and personal assistant who was arrested in June by Scotland Yard and who is now out on bail. He is Iftikhar Hussain, not Ishtiaq.

A version of this article appears in print on September 13, 2013, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Pakistani’s Iron Grip, Wielded in Opulent Exile, Begins to Slip.

Read More:

Monday, September 9, 2013

Millions laid down lives for Secular or Islamic Pakistan>

While some prefer to emphasise the economic independence within secular Pakistan, others dream of theocracy like Iran. They try to support their perceptions by misquoting and twisting sayings of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. Both are far from the reality. This fundamental question has been settled through Objectives Resolution, adopted by first constituent assembly on March 9, 1949, and subsequently by all assemblies till now. Any ambiguity was further clarified by Liaquat Ali Khan, the 1st Prime Minister of Pakistan, also a close associate of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, in his speech on the Objectives Resolution, March 9, 1949. 
"Pakistan was founded because the Muslims of this sub-continent wanted to build up their lives in accordance with the teachings and traditions of Islam, because they wanted to demonstrate to the world that Islam provides a panacea to the many diseases which have crept into the life of humanity today."
"Islam does not recognize either priesthood or any sacerdotal authority; and, therefore, the question of a theocracy simply does not arise in Islam. If there are any who still use the word theocracy in the same breath as the polity of Pakistan, they are either labouring under a grave misapprehension, or indulging in mischievous "propaganda."
"The Preamble of the Resolution deals with a frank and unequivocal recognition of the fact that all authority must be subservient to God. It is quite true that this is in direct contradiction to the Machiavellian ideas regarding a polity where spiritual and ethical values should play no part in the governance of the people and, therefore, it is also perhaps a little out of fashion to remind ourselves of the fact that the State should be an instrument of beneficence and not of evil."
"The Muslim [in Pakistan] shall be enabled to order their lives in the individual and collective spheres in accord with the teachings and requirements of Islam as set out in the Holy Quran and the Sunnah"
[Excerpts: Liaquat Ali Khan, the 1st Prime Minister of Pakistan, on the Objectives Resolution, March 9, 1949]http://pakistan-posts.blogspot.com/p/why-pakistan.html