KARACHI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Wasim Akhtar is facing 39 cases of varying nature, from allegedly facilitating terrorists to supporting sedition. He has secured bail in 36 of those cases while decision on pleas in the remaining three is pending.The four cases in which Akhtar got bail on Monday by the ATC-II judge pertain to the May 12, 2007 violence. Akhtar was then holding the office of the home adviser
The city’s jailed mayor came close to leaving the confines of prison and assuming office on Monday after an anti-terrorism court (ATC) granted him bail in four more cases.
Arguing in Akhtar’s defence, his lawyer Khawaja Naveed Ahmed contended that his client was implicated in the case ‘merely’ for political victimisation and that he was not actually involved in any of these offences.
He said that Akhtar was not nominated in the FIRs registered nine years ago, adding that his name was included after his nomination as mayor by the MQM. He added that the police had not assigned him any specific role during investigations of his alleged involvement.
On the other hand, the state prosecutor opposed the bail plea and asserted that there were sufficient evidence against the suspect. He cited the statement, under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), of a witness before a judicial magistrate and of two other witnesses to police during investigations in support of his argument.
The defence counsel, however, rebutted that the witness had changed his statement as compared to a previous one recorded by the police under Section 161 of the CrPC.
Heavy on the pocket
After listening to both the sides, the judge granted the mayor bail in these four cases against a surety of Rs500,000 each. This is the highest amount the mayor has been ordered to pay in one go during the bails saga.
All the cases against him are lodged under sections relating to attempted murder, rioting and damaging public property at the Airport police station. The police station falls within the jurisdiction of Malir where 35 out of the 39 cases against him have been registered.
According to an estimate, the MQM leader, since last year, has submitted around Rs10 million in various courts as surety to secure release in 36 cases.
The main case
Akhtar, along with three other politicians, including MQM’s Rauf Siddiqui, Pak Sarzameen Party president Anis Kaimkhani and Pakistan Peoples Party’s Qadir Patel, landed in jail on July 19 after the same court rejected their interim bail in the terrorists’ facilitation case against Dr Asim Hussain. The political leaders are accused of getting criminals and militants treated and shielded at Dr Asim’s Ziauddin hospitals.
Akhtar was the Karachi mayoral nominee when taken into custody and was elected mayor from the confines of jail.
Around a dozen cases, including the four in which he got bail on Monday, surfaced during his incarceration with the police claiming that he had confessed during interrogation. He, however, refuted these claims.
On September 29, Akhtar was given bail in three cases by the ATC-III against a surety of Rs300,000 each. This was the first bail he secured since being jailed.
The majority of the cases against him relate to MQM founder Altaf Hussain’s controversial speeches.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 1st , 2016.