Atlaf Hussain was interviewed by investigators at London’s Southwark police station regarding the money laundering case against him and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), of which he is the leader and founder. Another leader in the MQM, Ali Raza Abidi tweeted the bail has been extended till February 2016. Hussain was originally charged in June 2014 when police found large amounts of cash stored in his residence while executing a search warrant. Hussain has lived in London since 1991.
The MQM (the English translation means United National Movement) is a Pakistani political party formed in 1984 with its roots in an Urdu-speaking student movement (Muhairs) which was the original M in MQM but was later changed to incorporate others. The MQM has its biggest base of influence in Karachi. But they are also the second largest political party in Sindh and the fourth largest in the National Assembly of Pakistan.
In 2009, the Pakistan government granted amnesty to politicians, bureaucrats, and political workers accused of terrorism, murder, money-laundering, corruption, and embezzlement between 1986 and 1999. Though Hussain was not among the list for money-laundering, he was listed for his alleged participation in a total of 72 cases, including 11 murder attempts and 31 murder cases.
Not long after Hussain’s arrest in July 2014, the MQM retained the services of Bell Pottinger, a U.K.–based PR firm that charged £150,000 for the first six months representation. At that time, a delegation from the firm stayed a week in Karachi and met with Governor Sindh Ishrat ebaad.
Bell Pottinger continues to represent the MQM, and is believed to have advised members of the party to participate in a letter-writing campaign to British officials regarding Hussain’s need to be cleared allowing him to travel as needed. The reason given in the letters is that Hussain is under the threat of death in London.
Bell Pottinger is one of the largest PR firms in the U.K. – and surely has the most controversial client list.
That said, Lord Bell, a co-founder of Bell Pottinger advised Margaret Thatcher during her time as Prime Minister on media matters. They have offices in London, Dubai, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Brussels, and Bahrain.
In speaking of Lord Bell of Belgravia, Mark Borkowski, a PR expert and historian of all things PR, said, “He is an icon in the business…. He has a very powerful network, contacts all over the world. Bell Pottinger are a formidable multinational. For many, many years they have operated in the shadows, as agents of influence.”
Bell Pottinger wins in darkness again!