ISLAMABAD - Coming down hard on MQM chief Altaf Hussain for his hate speech against the state and its armed forces, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has said that the government will formally take up the matter with the United Kingdom.

Addressing a press conference and later responding to the questions of media persons here at Punjab House on Sunday, he said that Altaf Hussain had been making hate speeches in the past too but his last night speech had crossed all limits and it was tantamount to waging war against the country.

Nisar said Karachi targeted operation was not against any particular party and it would go on. He also said that Pakistan government would keep cooperating with British authorities in Imran Farooq murder case and other cases, and such tactics on part of MQM leadership cannot prevent government from fulfilling its responsibility to justice.

The minister said that sarcastic poems were read out against the armed forces and filthy and baseless allegations were levelled against them in the Muttahida Qaumi Movement convention in the US city of Dallas which could not be tolerated. "These statements can't exhibit the sentiments of a patriotic Pakistani," he added.

Responding to a question, Nisar said Karachi operation was started with the backing of all the political parties and MQM leadership was very much taken on board before its formal launch. He further said that the team leader of the Karachi was Sindh chief minister, and Rangers and other law enforcement agencies were only targeting the criminal elements hiding in the fold of political parties without any discrimination.

He further said that it was MQM which had demanded handing over of Karachi to the Army but after thorough deliberations on the issue it was decided not to engage Army in the port city and with the approval of all the political stakeholders it was decided that operation in Karachi should be launched through Rangers and other law enforcement agencies under the supervision of political leadership.

"MQM leader Farooq Sattar on August 27, 2013 had demanded that Karachi be handed over to the army. The perception that the operation in Karachi is against the MQM or that the operation only targets one specific party is absolutely wrong, as the action has been taken across the board."

He said, "Only criminal elements within the MQM have been targeted during the ongoing operation. Activists belonging to the PPP, Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), Sunni Tehreek, Shabab-i-Milli and ANP were also arrested but no party raised any objections apart from the MQM." He added, "The operation will continue with the same pace... The efforts carried out by government have resulted in a marked decrease in terrorism cases."

To a question the minster said, "We are examining the speech (of Altaf) as a disclosure of attempting to abet waging of war against Pakistan and its institutions... The language used by Altaf Hussain can (only) be of an enemy (of the state)."

He said, "The speech made from MQM's London Office is a conspiracy against the sovereignty and integrity of the country, as it invited foreign forces and India to interfere in Pakistan's internal matters. Altaf Hussain has invited Nato and India to Karachi.”

The MQM as a party has raised no issues against the operation, he said, adding "I don't consider the Urdu-speaking community or the MQM to be against Pakistan". Giving details about the success of Karachi operation , he said, "Target killing decreased by 50 per cent in July, while there was a 100 per cent drop in kidnapping for ransom cases as not a single such case was filed during the last month."

Pakistan will adopt a legal course in UK against the controversial speeches of Altaf Hussain, Nisar said, adding, "We will approach the British authorities in the next few days and submit a legal document on the matter... Work is already underway in this regard."

Interior minister said, "Altaf hasn't come to the country during the past 25 years and I doubt that he will ever return." The noose around Altaf is being tightened over two cases filed in London and he is venting his anger on Pakistanis, he claimed.

"The Imran Farooq murder case and the money-laundering case against Altaf have not been initiated by the Pakistani armed forces or its government... The cases are not being heard in Pakistani courts. They have been lodged in the country where the MQM chief has chosen to seek asylum."

To a question the interior minister said, "Though the media has ended live broadcast of Altaf Hussain's speeches, the government is further considering a complete ban on the speeches of the MQM chief."