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The curious case of Uzair Baloch

Uzair’s script is a desperate attempt to malign PPP’s image as a party linked to criminal elements. However, unlike MQM, the PPP has never been accused or found guilty of patronising criminals and terrorists

By Nadir Nabil Gabol

They are doing what they do best. Dig up trash, manipulate public opinion, blackmail and build pressure. They do not know that Lyari cannot be manipulated. And when I say ‘they’ I am referring to the non-political forces behind Uzair Baloch’s alleged confessions. The recent so-called revelations by Uzair Baloch are nothing new. Since his arrest in January 2016 under mysterious circumstances, the media has reported that Uzair has supposedly confessed to acting on the directives of PPP. Allegedly, Uzair has directly named MNA Faryal Talpur and former president Asif Ali Zardari along with several other PPP ministers and office bearers. Interestingly though, there was no mention of Zulfiqar Mirza.
I along with the people of Lyari know for a fact that Zulfiqar Mirza was the Godfather of Uzair and his gang. Mirza proudly, publicly, referred to Uzair as his brother and owned the now defunct Peoples Aman Committee. So, the obvious question is why was Mirza not part of Uzair’s JIT confessions? The answer is obvious, Uzair is the latest tool being used in the script against PPP and its leadership. If we take a historical perspective, Lyari has always been a stronghold of PPP since its inception. When PPP contested its first elections in 1970 the nominee from Lyari was Abdul Sattar Gabol whose father had been Lyari’s representative in the first Sindh Assembly of 1937.
During the election campaign Gabol’s rival, Saeed Abdullah Haroon, had sought help from Daad Mohammad who was a known gangster of his time. PPP swept the elections and established Lyari as its stronghold. Later, Daad Mohammad’s son Rehman Dakait took over the charge of gangs in Lyari. Rehman Dakait grew extremely powerful and notorious during the Musharraf-era due to MQM’s support. It was only when PPP formed the government in 2008 that Rehman Dakait was finally eliminated.
The then MNA of Lyari, Nabil Gabol, used this opportunity to pressure Rehman’s gang, which was now headed by Uzair Baloch, to surrender. Uzair even accepted this fact in a TV interview. However, Zulfiqar Mirza had other plans. Mirza who is known by his old colleagues as a power hungry person with a criminal mindset had personal goals for which he used and supported Uzair Baloch. Using his portfolio as Home Minister Mirza armed and patronized Uzair and the Aman committee. Nabil Gabol, the PPP MNA, was publicly confronted with Uzair and his gang. Once Asif Ali Zardari was apprised of Mirza’s policies, Mirza was forced to resign and an operation was launched against the Lyari gang war in April 2012. At this point Uzair publicly began confronting PPP which is evident in a TV interview of his from 2011 where he hurls personal insults at Asif Zardari.
Soon, Uzair launched a full-fledged campaign to try and wipe out PPP from Lyari and assassin at several PPP office bearers including my friend Malik Muhammad. At the same time leaders from PML-N including Ghous Ali Shah and Marvi Memon reached out to Uzair and officially invited him to join their party. Uzair also reportedly considered an alliance with PTI. In 2013, when PPP once again swept the elections in Lyari, a celebratory dinner was held with several PPP leaders including Faryal Talpur in attendance. It was not uncommon for Uzair to be seen at social gatherings in Lyari including meeting with celebrities such as Shahid Afridi.
The post-election dinner was hosted by local PPP workers and Parliamentarians. Uzair’s presence at the dinner caused great unrest and shock amongst the PPP leaders who had now decided to eliminate Uzair and his gang from Lyari once and for all.
Resultantly, a fresh operation to capture Uzair was launched. It was due to the PPP government’s efforts that Uzair had to flee Lyari and Pakistan. Uzair has now been in custody for almost two years and is facing charges of espionage and anti-state activities. Hence, his case has been transferred to the military courts. How the alleged JIT report has now been leaked, and its authenticity, remains a puzzle to be solved.
Uzair’s script is a desperate attempt to malign PPPs image as a party linked to criminal elements. However, unlike MQM, the PPP has never been accused or found guilty of patronizing criminals and terrorists. The curious case of Uzair Baloch seems to be the latest effort at character assassination against PPP and its leadership in the guise of accountability. The fact remains, that Lyari is PPP’s stronghold and always will be. Not even dictators such as Ziaul Haq could remove Bhutto from Lyari.
The writer is a former Pakistani Diplomat with vast experience in the USA.

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