More details of Lyari gang war criminal Uzair Baloch’s confessional statement before a judicial magistrate last year have emerged. Being investigated by the security agencies for anti-state activities, his disclosures may adversely impact Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman and former president Asif Ali Zardari, who plans to win the next election and become the prime minister of Pakistan.
In his confessional statement, Baloch said that he had forcibly gotten vacated 30 to 40 bungalows and apartments near Bilawal House in Karachi on the orders of Asif Ali Zardari. He also helped Zardari and his close aide Awais Muzaffar Tappi in occupying 14 sugar mills in Sindh. In his shocking revelations, he said the bounty on his head and criminal cases against him were dropped after the intervention of Asif Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur. In another horrific disclosure, he said that he had leaked “sensitive information” to foreign agencies.
He also told investigators that he and his wife were facing threats to their lives from political figures, including Asif Ali Zardari, after he had named them in heinous crimes. He had accepted involvement in several charges against him in a confessional statement in front of a magistrate last year. He also confessed that he had shared information of the armed forces, including the then Corps Commander, the Station Commander and the Naval Commander in Karachi, with foreign intelligence agencies. He admitted his role in the appointment of Saeed Baloch and Nisar Morai in the Fishermen Cooperative Society, which paid Rs2 million extortion money to him monthly. He used his political connections for the appointment of police officers who helped him in his criminal activities. He said that he had used former Sindh Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza, Qadir Patel and Yousuf Baloch of the PPP, for the appointment of police officers of his choice
On April 12, the Pakistan Army took Uzair Baloch into custody on charges of espionage after nearly 15 months of his detention by different law enforcement agencies, following his arrest in January 2016. Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director-General Major General Asif Ghafoor confirmed, via Twitter, that the army had taken him into custody for leaking sensitive security information to foreign intelligence agencies.
It is said the Rangers had taken him into custody after his life was in danger in jail. He has made startling disclosures about the PPP leadership which form a serious charge-sheet against Zardari and could land him in jail instead of his plans or dreams to become the prime minister of Pakistan. According to sources, Uzair Baloch remained silent about his political links, hoping against hope that the PPP leadership would come to his rescue one day. However, when he heard about allegations of smuggling, extortion and killings levelled by the PPP leadership against him, which also denied having links with him in the past, it infuriated the Lyari gang war linchpin who became ready to provide details of his crimes, committed with the abetment of the PPP leaders, to the Rangers’ investigators.
He averred that he was a smalltimer when he was patronized by former president Asif Ali Zardari. His prime responsibility was to fight against criminals of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Altaf Hussain, who extorted money from shopkeepers and wealthy people and killed them when they refused. The MQM could paralyze Karachi, as and when it wanted and had held the media hostage. It was backed by the Indian Research and Intelligence Wing (RAW) and the police were helpless against MQM. The then Sindh home minister Zulfiqar Mirza was tasked with tackling the miscreants. Mirza’s modus operandi was to counter the MQM goons through People’s Amn (a gross misuse of the term“peace”) committees.
It was the time the PPP was in power in Sindh and at the Centre. It decided to set up a force of criminals of its own to fight criminals. It is said Zulfiqar Mirza took Uzair to the residence of Faryal Talpur, the sister of Asif Zardari. Then former Sindh
minister Sarjeel Memon and Suhail Sayal, who later became the Sindh home minister, also joined the force. In their own way, they were trying to fight Muhajir aggression and perform duties as representatives of rural Sindh. Zulfiqar Mirza, on record, boasted of providing arms licences to over 200,000 people. “The arms are not for firing into the air at wedding parties,” he threatened the MQM openly.
It is said Benazir Bhutto had also thought on the same lines when she launched an operation against the MQM in 1995. When she thought of equipping her workers with weapons, she was advised by her close aides and police officers that it could not restore peace in Karachi, rather bloodshed would increase, as it would increase the number of armed groups in the port city. Experts say the PPP, in fact, had no activists at the time who could take up arms. They were simple political workers and could not be trained to fight hardened MQM militants, who had received training in Indian camps. However, the situation was different for Zardari and his close aides and workers. The PML-N could not oppose his plan because the Sharif brothers had skeletons in their own cupboards.
Under state and PPP patronage, Uzair made the lives of the people of Karachi intol- erable. Besides two million residents of Korangi, no shopkeeper or business person could dare refuse his demands for money in Karachi. His network expanded and he started running drugs and weapons. He told investigators he had helped Zardari “purchase” over 50,000 acres of land at a price of his choice. He bought him any building, plot or agriculture land he liked at nominal rates from the owners.
His allegations are serious and need thorough investigation. He is a classical example of the nexus of politician and criminal in Pakistan. It appears he will be court-martialled, but his political patrons and network in the police and other departments would remain intact. The entire network should be uprooted to stop people like him.