KARACHI - Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) says its leaders are receiving extortion notices from Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and being threatened to stop projecting views against the banned outfit.

MQM senior leader Dr Farooq Sattar in a press conference said the TTP is threatening their party leaders including legislators via SMS, letters and phone calls, besides issuing them extortion notices.

The outlawed militant organisation has even threatened to take action against MQM chief Altaf Hussain in London in case they did not submit to the pressure, Sattar said while speaking at Khursheed Begum Secretariat Azizabad on Monday.

Farooq Sattar holding the TTP threat chits said that 11 key members of MQM coordination committee and elected representatives of the party have been receiving life-threatening calls and extortions chits bearing contact numbers on them.

MQM Deputy Convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Babar Ghouri, Kanwar Naveed, Rasheed Godail and Haider Abbas Rizvi were among party leaders who have received threats, Sattar said, as he was accompanied by Kanwar and Ghouri on the occasion.

He said the latest such letter was received on September 15 at the party headquarter Nine-Zero and it states, “We (TTP) are informing you in written to halt projecting views against the Taliban. We are warning you to stop foretelling the people about difference between Qauid-e-Azam’s Pakistan and Taliban’s Pakistan.” Sattar said the letter further states that families of TTP members were residing in various cities of the country and “we (TTP) officials are ordering you to help them financially on immediate basis as they were spending a miserable live. Ignoring this warning would “lead you to loss; send the money within fifteen days or else your families will be sent straight to hell”.

Furthermore the letter says that MQM headquarter Nine-Zero, party members’ families and everything belonging to MQM will be destroyed if they sought any assistance of law enforcement agencies. Doing so would “put you in more trouble” MQM leader said quoting the letter, adding that Taliban warned of capital punishment for those seeking help from LEAs.

Sattar said that earlier the party informed the federal and provincial authorities through letters and urged them to take notice of the issue however the ignorance of the authorities has forced MQM to make the issue public and seek suggestion from the supporters in this regard.

Initially the MQM coordination committee wrote a letter to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and attached with it the Taliban threat letters asking him to take notice of the issue, he said. The copies of these letters were also sent to Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Sindh chief minister and other provincial authorities, he added.

Moreover, MQM leaders individually wrote letters to federal and provincial authorities highlighting the issue and urged for immediate notice. About a month has passed and none of the officials has contacted MQM in this regard and it seems that the government has turned a blind eye to this important issue, said MQM leader.

Baber Ghori on the occasion said that TTP has warned MQM leadership in London and Pakistan asking them to halt raising voice against Taliban. He said MQM chief Altaf Hussain has been warned of grave consequences in case he did not stop issuing statements against the Taliban. He further said that their London leadership has contacted London police and informed about the recent Taliban threats to the party chief and the police have responded positively in this regard.

Farooq Sattar said it was risky to reveal the security arrangements at the party headquarter Nine-Zero in Karachi but only few police personnel and private security guards had been put on security duty there, said Sattar, demanding from the government foolproof security arrangements at party headquarter.

He said that in the past Sindh governor, IGP, DIG, CID police have been informing the party leadership to restrict their movement on different occasions but no action has been taken on the current threats from the Taliban. He said that party has remained the chief target of the Taliban, and three elected members of MQM – Raza Haider, Sajid Quershi and Manzar Imam – were assassinated after MQM chief raised voice against Talibanisation of Karachi.

MQM leader said for long such band outfits have been active in the city and killing innocent citizens belonging to both Shia and Sunni communities. Many lawyers, doctors, teachers and other professionals were killed and lately family members of religious figures are being target killed in the city. The question remains how these and why these terrorists have been permitted to openly carry out their activities in the city and pursue their agenda of destabilisation, said MQM leader.

Sattar said the drive of the sit-in protests has put the country’s politics on the path of public procession and political forces had hold number of public gatherings recently. MQM, he said was also planning to launch a membership drive in various parts of the country to mobilise people. To a question he said that every political force of the country has the right to hold public gatherings and it was duty of the federal and provincial governments to make all the possible security arrangements for it.

The MQM enjoying large support in the urban Sindh has been remained a particular target of the Taliban. The party members and leaders faced many gun and bomb attacks by the Taliban militants during General Election 2013 in Karachi and Hyderabad. Last year the TTP warned MQM, PPP and ANP for their secular ideology and carried out attacks on the three parties which badly affected their election campaign. MQM claims that practically the TTP is controlling about 25 per cent areas of Karachi.