London: Pakistani politician Imran Khan has accused Britain of double standards in its fight against terrorism, saying it has failed to act against London-based MQM chief Altaf Hussain for allegedly ordering the killing of dozens of his opponents.
"Britain has no right to criticise Pakistan for sheltering terrorists while it failed to hold Hussain, leader of the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), to account for his alleged crimes," Khan told The Times in Islamabad.
Khan accused Hussain of involvement in the assassination of Zahra Shahid Hussain, a leader of his Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf party.
The 60-year-old cricketer-turned-politician claimed British accusations that Pakistan offered a safe heaven for terrorists were laced with hypocrisy.
"What about when someone is responsible for harbouring a terrorist in the UK? It seems as if it is only when British blood is spilt that someone has to be held accountable," he said in an interview at his hilltop villa.
He claimed that Britain has been "very soft" on Hussain, who has been based in north London since the 1990s.
Hussain was granted British citizenship in 2002, a year after writing to then Prime Minister Tony Blair offering MQM`s help in fighting Islamic militancy in Karachi, where his party is accused of using violence to intimidate opponents.
According to the report, Khan said he had warned British High Commissioner to Pakistan Adam Thomson that Hussain had made threats against his party workers only two days before Zahra Shahid Hussain was shot dead.
"I told him: `Something is going to happen and it`s your
citizen who is inciting violence. ` Two days later she was murdered," he said.
After the killing, Khan said his Tehrik-e-Insaf party had discussed forming an armed paramilitary wing to defend itself in Karachi but decided against it.
"Once your form a militant wing they can become very difficult to control," he said.
Contrasting his own party`s methods with the MQM`s, Khan alleged: "It`s the ultimate in terrorism. They usually kill people, mutilate them, put them in sacks and send them to someone`s house."
The Metropolitan Police is still investigating the murder of Imran Farooq, a senior MQM figure, in London in 2010.
The report quoted Nasreen Jalil, an MQM parliamentarian, as denying that her party or its leader had ever used violence to further its political aims.
She said the MQM was "progressive, liberal and secular - and we protect minorities".
Hussain declined to comment on Khan`s allegations.
According to the report, Khan is still recovering from injuries sustained when he fell from a platform during a rally days before the general election on May 11, in which his party came second with eight million votes. He said the polls were a blur.
"I don`t remember anything...I had a punctured lung, concussion, blurred vision. For two and a half weeks it was very difficult," he said.
The Tehrik-e-Insaf was solidly defeated by Nawaz Sharif`s PML-N party but Khan claimed the results were tainted by "massive and blatant" fraud. He claimed Pakistan`s established parties had collaborated to block his party.
Khan is now focused on governing Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan`s most violent province, where his party won control of the regional assembly. He said it was essential to sever Pakistan`s military ties with the US and to end drone strikes before peace can be restored with militant groups.