Altaf Hussain (born 17 September 1953 in Karachi) is the founder and leader of the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM). The MQM emerged as the third largest political party in the national assembly of Pakistan during 1988 and 1990 elections. The MQM secured representation in the parliamentary elections held in the northern areas of Pakistan comprising Kashmir & Gilgit-Baltistan. Since 1992 he has lived in the United Kingdom in self exile after surviving an assassination attempt in Pakistan.
Altaf Hussain was born to Nazir Hussain and Khursheed Begum on 17 September 1953 in Karachi. His parents belonged to religious families from Agra, India. After the formation of Pakistan in 1947, his parents migrated to Pakistan and settled in Karachi. Hussain’s grandfather, Mufti Mohammad Ramazan, was Grand Mufti of the town of Agra, UP, India and his maternal grandfather Haji Hafiz Raheem Bhux was a reputed religious scholar in India.
Altaf Hussain got his early education from Govt Comprehensive School, Azizabad No. 8 Karachi. He then completed his matriculation in 1969 from Government Boys Secondary School. He attended National College Karachi during First Year of his Intermediate Education (Pre-Medical/Science) but switched to City College Karachi during Second Year of Intermediate from where he completed Intermediate.After that he went on to complete his Bachelors of Science from Islamia Science College (Karachi) in 1974 apart from completing his Bachelor of Pharmacy by 1979 from the University of Karachi. After completion of his Bachelor of Pharmacy he later enrolled for his Master’s degree.
Hussain began his career as a trainee at Karachi’s Seventh Day Advent Hospital. At the same time, he also worked for a multi-national pharmaceutical company. Between 1970 and 1971, Hussain joined the National Service Cadet Scheme. Soon afterwards, he also joined the Baloch Regiment of Pakistan Army.
Altaf Hussain was politically active from a very young age. While attending Karachi University, on 11 June 1978, Hussain founded the “All Pakistan Mohajir Student Organization” APMSO. This day is celebrated as APMSO foundation day. The APMSO was formed as a student rights group campaigning for the rights of Muhajir students at Karachi University. It later gave birth to the Muhajir Qaumi Movement (MQM) on 18 March 1984, which afterward transformed into Muttahida Qaumi Movement on 26 June 1997. Before creating the APMSO, Hussain served as General Secretary and later as President of the National Student’s Action Committee at Karachi University.
The Pakistani government launched Operation Clean-up in 1992 and sent the military into Karachi to crack down on the MQM. Hussain escaped Karachi one month before the operation began because of an attack on his life on 21 December 1991. Hussain fled to London and applied for political asylum. In 2013, Hussein said he would resign as head of the MQM. However, he then rescinded his decision after party workers asked him to stay on.