Before leaving the country on sick leave, former home minister Dr Zulfiqar Mirza addressed the people of Lyari on Thursday and vowed to “cut his throat, before he lowered his neck to anyone”.
Extortion is not a new menace in Karachi and they “have been hearing the term ‘bhatta’ for the past 20 years”, he said. “I challenge shopkeepers, the chamber of commerce and all those complaining about extortionists to set up a stage in Nishtar Park, place their hands on the Holy Quran and name the person who has been taking bhatta for the past 20 years.”
A large crowd, led by Pakistan Peoples Party local leaders Habib Jan, Uzair Jan Baloch and Zafar Baloch, received the home minister, amid shouts of “Sher-e-Karachi” and “Sher-e-Sindh Zulfiqar Mirza”. Mirza was accompanied by MNA Abdul Qadir Patel.
The residents of Lyari gathered at a football ground and listened to Mirza vowing to carry forward the legacy of Benazir Bhutto and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. “The coming or going of someone [in office] does not make a difference,” he said. “If Shaheed Benazir Bhutto and Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto preferred to put their necks on the line instead of bowing to someone then why can’t we?”
The people of Lyari have been making sacrifices for the country since its creation. They are not begging, the beggars are someone else, he said. “I am thankful to the people of Lyari for giving me so much support and love. I have given them my support and will be helping them in the future.”
Explaining his sudden sick leave, Mirza said that he had been working continuously for a long time and had not taken a single day’s leave. “I submitted my leave application three months ago and it has been accepted now. I am going to visit my daughter,” he said.
Uzair Jan Baloch appreciated Mirza’s support for the people of Lyari. “We salute the lion of Pakistan, the lion of Sindh and the lion of Karachi.” Earlier, Mirza handed over two motorcycles to the police. They were presented by the shopkeepers of Mehmood Shah Road, Timber Market and Old Haji Camp.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 8th, 2011.