Zia had founded MQM, says Beg

Former Pakistani army chief General (retd) Mirza Aslam Beg has said that late dictator Zia-ul-Haq was responsible for the formation of the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM).

In an interview to the Voice of America, General Beg, who was the vice-chief of the army staff in General Zia's military administration, said, "It was Zia who had founded the Muttahida Quami Movement."

General Beg, who was the Chief of Army Staff from 1988

to 1991, said President Pervez Musharraf should be asked

why he relied on the MQM so much.

MQM broadly represents the Urdu speaking migrants from India who were settled in Pakistan's business hub Karachi after the bitter Partition of the subcontinent in 1947.

General Beg said it was under the present government that the offices of MQMs rival, MQM (Haqeeqi), were shut down and its people sent to jail.

The MQM had now come to the aid of the regime in a show of loyalty, he was quoted as saying by The Daily Times which reported the interview.

In an earlier VOA interview, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto had said that General Zia founded both the MQM and the Afghanistan Mujahideen.

Imran Farooq of the MQM has denied the claim made by Beg. He told the VOA that the army simply does not have the capability of setting up a popular political party.

Farooq pointed out that General Begs party had been formed with the armys blessings and had failed to make its mark. General Beg had founded a non-political Awami Qaiyadat Party (National Leadership Party).

After his retirement, Beg has remained a controversial figure, both for his alleged role in a bank scandal and the nuclear proliferation issue.

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