ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif directed the country’s high commissioner to UK to provide consular assistance to Altaf Hussain, a government spokesman said.

Sources in the government and the ruling PML-N told The Nation that Prime Minister Sharif was informed of the arrest of Muttahida Qoumi Movement Quaid Altaf Hussain when he was chairing the parliamentary party meeting.

These sources added the premier become got worried and immediately directed all the party leaders not to give any unnecessary statements on the arrest of the MQM chief. It was decided that any official version of the party would only be given after his approval.

Sources in the PML-N said Altaf Hussain’s arrest and the subsequent incidents of violence dominated the cabinet meeting on the budget.

Soon after getting the information about the arrest of Altaf Hussain in London on alleged charges of money laundering, Nawaz Sharif phoned Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad and discussed with him the unrest sparked by the arrest of the MQM chief.

The sources further said that soon after the cabinet meeting, Premier Sharif directed Federal Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan to keep a close watch on the Karachi situation and keep him abreast of the situation in the financial hub of the country.

After the cabinet meeting, instead of attending the budget session, Nisar went to his ministry to keep in touch with the law-enforcement agencies, including the bosses of Rangers deployed in Karachi.

Meanwhile, the government spokesman expressed grief over the reaction in Karachi after the arrest of Altaf Hussain in London. “Though people are restive over the arrest, the law does not warrant the loss of people’s lives and properties on the pretext of reaction to the incident,” the spokesman added.

The prime minister directed the Sindh government and the law-enforcement agencies to ensure safety of people’s lives and properties in Karachi, the spokesman added.

The spokesman further said that besides offering consular services to Altaf Hussain, the government is ready to extend all sorts of legal and moral help the MQM chief needs from the government of Pakistan.

It is pertinent to mention here that Prime Minister Sharif was scheduled to visit Karachi on Tuesday, but his programmee has changed because of his engagements in the federal capital in connection with the budget presentation.

On the other hand, some sources in the know of the situation claim the government was aware of the British government’s plan to arrest Altaf Hussain, so the visit was put off.

The sources further said the British high commission in Islamabad on Monday withdrew their staff from the Karachi consulate because of British Metropolitan Police’s plan to arrest Altaf Hussain in London and the whole matter was in the knowledge of the Pakistan government.