June 18, 2015 / 4:23 PM / in 2 years

Pakistan arrests two men over London murder of dissident politician

KARACHI (Reuters) - Pakistani authorities said they arrested two men on Thursday in connection with the murder of a dissident Pakistani politician in London five years ago.

Mohsin Ali Syed, who left Britain just hours after Farooq’s murder and is wanted by Scotland Yard, and Khalid Shamim were crossing into Pakistan’s Baluchistan province from Afghanistan when they were arrested.

Farooq was a founding member of a major political party in Pakistan, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), which controls Karachi, Pakistan’s richest city and home to 20 million people.

He has been accused of murder, torture and other serious crimes and was seeking asylum in London when he was stabbed and beaten to death on his way home from work.

“The two men are MQM activists, one of them is directly involved in the Farooq stabbing, the other is said to be handler,” a senior security official told Reuters.

MQM was not immediately available for comment.

A spokesman for the paramilitary Frontier Corps said, “The Interior Ministry has been informed about their arrest and the men will be handed over to the Federal Investigation Agency.”

MQM’s leader Altaf Hussain has been living in self-imposed exile in Britain since 1992. He was arrested and questioned in connection with Farooq’s murder last June, leading to protests that shut down Karachi.

No one has been charged with Farooq’s murder but several MQM activists have been questioned and one of them was arrested on suspicion of money-laundering in April.

Last year, Scotland Yard said they wanted to trace Ali and a second Pakistani man, Muhammad Kashif Khan Kamran, who also left Britain just hours after Farooq’s murder.

Kamran’s whereabouts remain unknown.

The arrests may raise further weaken MQM at a time of rising tensions between Karachi’s civilian politicians and the powerful military.

The two sides have been trading corruption allegations for several days and this week the paramilitary Rangers raided a government office after accusing an unnamed political party of controlling mafias in the city.

Additional reporting by Gul Yousafzai in Quetta; Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Louise Ireland

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