The UK's Daily Telegraph has a look today at the man behind the recent violence in Karachi, Pakistan. Altaf Hussain is head of the pro-Mushraff Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) who organised counter demonstrations against protests over the sacking of the Chief Justice by the pro-democracy PPP. He runs his party and the city of Karachi, not from Pakistan but from an office on Edgeware Road in London.
in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mr Hussain insisted that they held a "completely peaceful gathering" and that it was opposition supporters who provoked the violence, in which at least nine MQM activists were killed. When reports of the killings reached Edgware on Saturday morning, Mr Hussain was preparing to address the party by telephone. Three hours later, he defied what he called "agitators" by leaning over the loudspeaker of his phone to speak to his supporters.Hussain spent part of yesterday engaged in a long telephone conversation with Musharaff, warning the dictator "not to make any deals with exiled leaders, such as his rival Miss Bhutto, that would see the military ruler resign from the army" according to the Telegraph.
...He said he had called for peace. But as tens of thousands of his followers sat cross-legged in reverential silence as they listened to their leader's telephonic address relayed by loudspeakers, in another street armed MQM activists fired directly into the crowds of opposition protesters.
...Mr Hussain is one of the Indian subcontinent's more unusual leaders. His political addresses by telephone have been known to last up to four hours, while a Western diplomat in Pakistan described the MQM as "something out of Chicago - nobody leaves the party".
While Mr Hussain promotes the party as a secular cause and courts the middle-class vote, his supporters are known to extort a goonda, or thug, tax from Karachi businesses.
Mr Hussain, who once drove a taxi in Chicago for a living, micro-manages the MQM with acute attention to detail.
The movement runs on Greenwich Mean Time with his ministers in Pakistan fielding hour-long telephone calls into the early hours.
Mr Sattar admitted that his party's image had been tarnished by "accusations of fascism and terrorism" but said this was a "misperception".
Another Telegraph report gives an insight into just how "peaceful" the MQM's intentions were.
In the city's Jinnah Hospital yesterday, Adil Bashir, 23, was recovering from three bullet wounds after narrowly escaping a street execution.No-one observing closely believes Musharaff didn't have a hand in this. After all, the MQM is a key member of his political coalition and runs the Sindh province for his government. This is the true face of the dictatorship Bush has decided to support.
He said he had not taken part in the rally but was rounded up by armed, teenage MQM activists along with four others. He alleged that he and others were lined up against a wall before being sprayed with automatic gunfire. He and one other survived.
Farhatullah Babar, a spokesman for the opposition Pakistan Peoples' Party, said: "We condemn this mayhem and we believe that the MQM could not have done it without the active support of General Pervez Musharraf."
Meanwhile, over at Bush cheerleading