Lyari mobster, crime boss and political worker Uzair Jan Baloch, the former chief of the militant group formed by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), the Peoples Aman Committee (PAC), was acquitted for attempted murder and robbery by a Sessions Court on April 8. Not surprisingly, the prosecution remained â€œunable to prove the chargesâ€ against him and his brother. Even the vaunted US criminal justice system could not convict Al Capone. Laughing at the trembling witnesses in court, he used to call out to them by name. Fearing for their lives they recanted their evidence.Â The FBI ultimately sent Capone to jail for tax evasion. Confessing to over 100 cases with specifics involving murders, extortion, arms smuggling, attacks on police and Rangers, etc, can Uzair Baloch be convicted (except by a military court) given the state of our lower judiciary?
Joining notorious gangleader Rahman Dakait when his father, transporter Faiz Baloch was kidnapped for ransom and killed by Lyari mobster Arshad Pappu, Uzair Baloch carved out a niche for himself in Lyari’s underworld after the death of Dakait in an encounter with police in 2009.Â Avenging his father in a most gruesome manner he dominated Lyari by eliminating opponents. Attacking law enforcers at will, he strengthened the Baloch separatist organisations engaged in insurgency against the State.
Despite vociferous denials by PPP leaders, Uzair Balochâ€™s close links with their party is a matter of record. In late 2015 a video footage by one of the private television channels confirmed various PPP lawmakers from Lyari to be hand in glove with this murderous gangster. Taking oath of allegiance to Uzair Baloch they vowed they would defect to any other party if he so decided. Faryal Talpur, Asif Zardariâ€™s sister, was presented a gift of the Holy Quran by Uzair Baloch. Alongwith PPP leaders including Ms Shehla Raza, former Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Syed Qaim Ali Shah visited him shortly after he took oath of office as CM after the 2013 election. These meetings took place between 2012 and 2013, when the PPPâ€™s Sindh government had withdrawn head money of Rs. 2 million on Uzair Baloch and two other members of the PAC without giving any reason.
Providing incontrovertible evidence against him to the then CM, in 2012, the then DG Rangers, Maj Gen (later Lt Gen and Corps Comd 5 Corps at Karachi) Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry insisted on arresting him and those in govt supporting him.Â Evidence about the PPP-MQM-ANP Sindh Coalition Govt using criminals for their governance was presented by him to the Chief Justice (CJ) Supreme Court (SC) Iftikhar Chaudhry. For reasons best known only to the former CJ, he directed Gen Ijaz not to make this public in open court but given to the Registrar in a sealed envelope. No further action was taken. This coming from a man who took â€œsuo motoâ€ action against Atiqa Odho for two bottles of alcohol! If they have the inclination let the SC call Lt Gen Ijaz, now retired, to disclose in open court what he gave to the former CJ in writing in 2012.Â When Uzair Balochâ€™s mentor Home Minister Dr Zulfikar Mirza fell out with Zardari, the PPP govt distanced themselves from Uzair Baloch.Â With the launch of an operation against criminal elements in 2013 in Karachi he fled the country.
Arrested by the Rangers in January 2016, Uzair Baloch made a confessional statement in front of a magistrate on April 24, 2016. His startling disclosures included explicit orders by Zardari himself for his men to harass and threaten occupants of 30 to 40 bungalows and apartments around Bilawal House. These properties were then â€˜purchasedâ€™ by Zardari at throwaway prices. Uzair Baloch also claimed providing â€˜assistanceâ€™ to Zardari and his foster brother, Awais Muzaffar Tappi, in occupying 14 sugar mills which were than â€˜boughtâ€™ on lower prices. Â Zardari and his cronies used both police and gangsters to acquire property, those being documented (mostly the owner being a proxy, who is the real owner?) can be ascertained and verified. Terrorizing the tenants/owners of Bilawal House neighbourhood to sell their properties using the stateâ€™s power is â€œdemocraticâ€ and Constitutional? Uzair Baloch claims that the cases against him and bounty on his head were dropped after intervention by Zardari and Faryal Talpur.
Receiving threats from several PPP political figures, including Asif Zardari himself, Uzair Baloch has voiced fears for his life and family. The gangster said that PPP leaders, Dr. Zulfiqar Mirza, Qadir Patel and Yousuf Baloch posting Police Station House Officers (SHOs) of his choice to assist him in furthering his criminal activities. He confessed to collecting extortion money worth millions every month.Â With public officials at levels of some standing â€œmentioned in criminal dispatchesâ€, what action has the Sindh Govt taken? Â Or for that matter the Federal Govt? Could one expect some concern about â€œgood governanceâ€ from the superior judiciary?
Receiving foreign funding for sabotage activity in Balochistan Uzair Baloch said, â€œwe killed people and made it look like they were killed by the Frontier Corps (FC).â€ His frequent contacts with the top PPP leadership can be seen in his engaging in strongarm tactics with someone having considerable political clout providing Uzair with protection. Even his acquittal â€œbecause of lack of evidenceâ€ by an ATC recently despite his confessions is a strong pointer in this direction. With the Army coming into the equation, troubled times should lie ahead for those who used him to spread terror and violence by misusing the Stateâ€™s resources.Â Or will the Army remain â€œgoody goodyâ€ and look the other way to â€œpreserve democracy?â€ Â The PPP will be quite happy if Uzair Baloch is sentenced to death by a military court, like Saulat Mirza a dead man tells no tales.
Uzair Baloch provides documentary first hand evidence (the â€œsmoking gunâ€) about the criminal use of State apparatus collaborating to commit acts of murder, torture, land grabbing, extortion, terrorizing the innocents, etc. On point of principle Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani maintains a discreet silence about his party leadership. With the State apparatus being blatantly misused for crime and corruption, Raza Rabbani will continue sitting on his white horse. The judiciary cannot condone criminality by blissfully ignoring this as the former CJ did. They must implement the laws of the land, preferably in the spirit of it and not the wording.Â By this time this appears SC Panamagate decision will let us know where we are heading! If criminals continue functioning in the name of justice, we will soon become a criminal state.
(The writer is a defence and security analyst)