The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Glare on Karachi guests

Islamabad/ New Delhi, Aug. 4: The bride and the groom were missing and there was no trace of the father of the bride either.

About a couple of hundred invitees had turned up till 10.50 pm at hotel Pearl Continental where former cricketer Javed Miandad was hosting the wedding reception of his son Junaid and Mahrukh, daughter of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.

Many of the guests were close relatives of the two families. Although both President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz were invited, neither turned up. Till 11 pm, no prominent politician had appeared. Some businessmen who came sneaked into the ballroom by the rear entrance through the bakery.

All invitees, including former cricketers and national hockey players such as Hanif Khan and Islah-ud-din, had to go through a thorough security check before they were allowed in, eyewitnesses said.

Unusual police deployment made sure that no media camera got into the ballroom where the subcontinent’s most-awaited reception of the year was being held. The staff of some private TV channels were roughed up by the securitymen. Journalists crowded outside the hotel’s Darbar Hall, which leads into the ballroom.

But there was no sign of Junaid and Mahrukh, who were supposed to be somewhere in the hotel. Or of the man everyone was waiting to see ' Dawood.

Indian intelligence agencies keeping a close watch on the five-star hotel claimed he was in town. Sources said the fugitive don had arrived in Karachi from south Sudan sometime last week.

According to intelligence sources, the main purpose of the surveillance was to establish Dawood’s presence in Pakistan through some photographic or video evidence.

If they succeed in securing the evidence, it could put pressure on Pakistan to acknowledge Dawood’s presence on its soil. Islamabad has so far denied his presence.

Indian intelligence agencies, which have a strong presence in Pakistan, especially in Karachi, were almost sure Dawood would make an attempt to come. He had reached Riyadh from south Sudan for the reception there but had to go back without attending it, they said.

“After failing to attend the grand wedding reception in Dubai where he virtually had to force himself to keep away due to exceptionally high surveillance by Indian and US intelligence, Dawood was badly wanting to attend this post-marriage function in Karachi.

“We believe that he would appear there but only after taking all possible steps to keep his identity hidden,” said an intelligence source.

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