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Ex-MQM leader Saleem Shahzad joins PTI, vows to work for Karachi's development

Former Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Saleem Shahzad has joined the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) after meeting with PTI chairman Imran Khan at his Bani Gala residence, the party's spokesman Fawad Chaudhary said on Tuesday.

Shahzad and the PTI chief agreed to work together for the betterment and development of the country's economic nerve, Karachi.

The MQM's founding member had returned to the country on February 6, 2017, and was arrested at the airport in a 23-year-old rioting case. While at the airport, Shahzad had told a private news channel that he had returned to the country voluntarily and was ready to face the cases against him to prove his innocence.

“I have come here to do politics,” he had said at the time. He said he had left the MQM the day the party's supremo Altaf Hussain raised alleged anti-Pakistan slogans on Aug 22, 2016.

According to Malir SSP Rao Anwar, several cases were registered against Shahzad but all such cases were cancelled after the infamous National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). Later, he was acquitted in the rioting case for want of evidence. He, however, is facing three other cases lodged in the ’90s at the Malir and Landhi police stations pertaining to murder, kidnapping, wrongful confinement, criminal intimidation and rioting.

Shahzad remained a member of the National Assembly in 1988 and 1990. He had left the country in 1992, apparently to avoid arrest during a crackdown against the party. He, however, first returned to the country in 2007 — after remaining in self-exile for about 15 years.

Shahzad remained associated with the MQM since its inception as a student organisation in 1978, except for a brief period in 2009, until he was removed from the Coordination Committee in London in 2013. He was later expelled from the party.

On December 2, Shahzad had announced that he would soon create a new political party "free of china-cutters and target killers" in the run-up to the next General Election.

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