KARACHI: An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) issued non-bailable warrants for the arrest of 25 senior leaders of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), in a case registered against them for facilitating Altaf Hussain’s July 12 speech critical of the security agencies.

The MQM leaders were named in different FIRs by private complainants who alleged that the named persons had attended a public gathering and listened to Altaf Hussain's outburst against the security agencies, on July 12 this year. In his speech, Hussain had accused the paramilitary forces of torturing and killing his party workers.

Compiled on the basis of FIRs registered against the MQM leaders at police stations in Malir cantonment, Sukhan, Bin Qasim Town, New Town and Steel Town, Karachi police presented before the ATC a charge sheet in which the MQM leaders were charged under Section 12 (collection of evidence in the absence of accused) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

Accepting the charge sheet, ATC-I judge Bashir Ahmed Khoso issued non-bailable arrest warrants for 25 MQM leaders , including MQM chief Altaf Hussain, MQM's mayoral candidate for Karachi Waseem Akhtar and senior party leaders Farooq Sattar, Khawaja Izharul Hassan, Rauf Siddiqui, Qamar Mansoor, Rehan Hashmi , Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Rasheed Godil, Kaiful Wara and others. The court directed the police to arrest and presents the accused before the court on January 2.

The development comes a week after the MQM nominated Waseem Akhtar for the position of Karachi mayor following its comprehensive victory in local government elections in Karachi earlier this month.

In July, FIRs were registered in different parts of the country against Altaf Hussain for remarks made by him against the chief of Rangers in Sindh and the paramilitary force in his speeches.

In the FIRs, the MQM chief was accused of involvement in cases of criminal conspiracy, waging or attempting or abetting the waging of war against Pakistan and committing acts of terrorism.

His July 12 speech was apparently in response to media reports that quoted Rangers sources as saying the paramilitary force was going to release a fact sheet about the March 11 raid on MQM’s Nine Zero headquarters in Azizabad.