KARACHI: Sindh Rangers on Saturday announced the arrest of Lyari gang war leader Uzair Baloch, during a search operation on the outskirts of Karachi.
“The gang leader was arrested in a targeted operation outside Karachi, in the early hours of Saturday as he attempted to enter the metropolis,” a press release issued by the paramilitary force stated.
It is unclear how and when Baloch arrived in Pakistan from the custody of UAE authorities.
Earlier, Baloch confessed his involvement in killings of rival group members, including Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) workers, supporters and police officials.
The gang war leader further stated that several police officers were also working under his influence. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leaders were also in his support, he added.
Uzair Baloch is like a brother to me: Zulfiqar Mirza
Upon the arrest of Baloch, former Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza said, “I am thankful to God that Uzair is safe and alive.”
“He is like a brother to me,” the former home minister added.
“The announcement of Uzair’s arrest came this morning, however details of his involvement in criminal activities are yet to be revealed.”
Baloch, a former chief of the defunct Peoples Aman Committee (PAC) who was declared a ‘most-wanted criminal’ by the Sindh government, had been in the custody of the Abu Dhabi police for nearly three months. He was detained in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) based on Interpol’s red-warrant on December 29 at the Dubai-Oman border.
The elusive self-styled don of the restive Lyari neighbourhood of Karachi, who managed to escape to the Middle East, after he was implicated in several cases by the Pakistan government, was finally apprehended by the Dubai border security personnel as he was crossing over from Oman. The security officials, on the basis of suspicion, put him through an eye-scan check that found he was on the Interpol’s most-wanted list. Uzair was subsequently handed over to the Abu Dhabi police and his case was sent to the court for repatriation to Pakistan.
As news of Uzair’s arrest was communicated to the Pakistani authorities by Interpol, a four-member team comprising DSP Zahid Hussain, SP Usman Bajwa, SP Naveed Khawaja and a Rangers official was sent to Abu Dhabi to take him into custody.
This was, however, no easy task largely due to the sheer incompetence of the team members, who had no idea how to handle a case of such a nature. Somehow, SP Usman Bajwa of the Counter-Terrorism Department managed to get himself stopped at the Dubai airport for just over two hours as he had felt it prudent to take along a revolver and handcuffs on the journey. He was released shortly after, but things just kept going sour for the team from then on.
Uzair is reported to have told the court that he is an Iranian national and would not want to be deported to Pakistan. His lawyer, one of the top criminal lawyers of the UAE, has appealed to the court that Uzair would be killed if given in the custody of the Pakistani authorities. He, however, could not prove his Iranian nationality as the sole Iranian passport he had was found to be forged.
What the defence doesn’t have in its favour are the 57 criminal cases registered against Uzair in Pakistan.
Uzair Baloch handed over to Rangers on 90-day preventive detention
Uzair has been handed over for 90 days for questioning into alleged crimes of target killings, extortion, kidnapping and terrorism.
Rangers produce a visibly weak Uzair Baloch before ATC administrative judge Syed Farooq shah.
The ATC has also allowed formation of JIT to investigate Uzair.
Justice shah has directed the Rangers to constitute a joint interrogation team within 15 days to question the suspect.
Is it always this difficult?
An official of the Dubai intelligence bureau claimed that Uzair could have been handed over to the Pakistani government a long time ago, had the authorities really wanted to bring him back. “There seems to be a lack of intent on the part of the Pakistani government to bring him back,” he believed. The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that nowhere along the case had there been any communication between the two governments. “The Pakistani government is using weaker channels to appear like it wants to bring him back. If they did, they would have approached the UAE government through the proper bureaucratic channels.”
The court was scheduled to take up the hearing in January last year. Uzair’s lawyer had expressed fears that his client will be killed in Pakistan. He has asked the Abu Dhabi authorities to reconsider their decision to deport him. It is likely the court will make the Pakistani authorities sign an affidavit that he will not be harmed before handing him over. Either that, or Uzair will be released and be bound to remain in Abu Dhabi as the authorities cannot detain him for longer than 90 days.