In an explosive press conference on Sunday, senior Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Dr Zulfiqar Mirza not only announced his resignation from key posts within the party and the Sindh government, but also made some extraordinary allegations against his old nemesis, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).
Dressed in a white shalwar kameez and the traditional Sindhi cap, Mirza arrived at the Karachi Press Club in a large convoy of SUVs along with his guards at around 4:20 pm. He brought a copy of the Holy Quran along with a briefcase filled with ‘documentary evidence’.
A surprise guest
Even though he has resigned, Mirza said no one can take away his association from the PPP. “Even the shroud at my funeral would be the PPP flag,” he stressed.
He said that President Asif Ali Zardari was a friend to him in the past and would continue to be so in the future. He said whenever the time comes, he would be the first to shed his blood for the party.
Mirza recalled his sacrifices for the party and reminded everyone that when Benazir Bhutto’s convoy was attacked on Karsaz Road in 2007, Mirza transferred her from the damaged truck to another vehicle.
“I have no differences with the PPP. In fact, there were never any differences,” he said.
He repeatedly invoked Benazir Bhutto’s name. “Shaheed Rani (the martyr queen) has never bowed before the oppressors and neither will I.” He hoped that PPP co-chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari would also never bow before those who commit atrocities against their own people.
When Mirza arrived at the press club, he said that the people of Lyari are residents and owners of Karachi. “I have come here today for them.” At no point, however, did he get drawn into a discussion about the Rangers operation in Lyari, even though his press conference was held a few hours after the operation.
At this point, Zafar Baloch, PPP local leader and senior member of the defunct Peoples Amn Committee (PAC) made a dramatic entrance, limping his way towards Mirza with the help of a crutch. Baloch was injured several weeks ago in a targeted grenade attack and sat to the left of Mirza
Mirza defended Baba Ladla and the PAC, and said blaming all crimes on the defunct committee was propaganda to defame the PPP. Malik said, “For the past many months, some people have been saying that Osama bin Laden has come to town in the apparition of Zulfiqar Mirza, blaming me for the numerous problems facing the city, including violence, water, electricity, and unemployment and extortion rackets.”
Cocaine, the CPLC and crime
Mirza also made a number of allegations against MQM leaders. Referring to the MQM’s Waseem Akhtar and Rauf Siddiqi, Mirza alleged that his predecessor home ministers were supplied two kilogrammes of cocaine by the Artillery Maidan SHO every month. “Before me, police stations were also auctioned,” he alleged.
Speaking about Ajmal Pahari, who is accused of killing over 100 people, Mirza said his interrogation has revealed that the MQM knew about the Ashura blast and that the party had planned an arson attack a day prior to the blast.
He urged the business community and industrialists to stop fearing the MQM. “I will lead you,” he said.
Mirza also targeted the current Citizens Police Liaison Committee chief Ahmed Chinoy and alleged that he was working at the MQM’s behest. “I ask Ahmed Chinoy whether the extortion racket is giving money to Baba Ladla or to your laadli (favourite).”
Paying up for Satish Anand
Mirza also revealed that he spent Rs5 million to aid filmmaker Satish Anand, who was kidnapped by the Taliban. Mirza said that the family was not able to pay the entire ransom amount demanded. “The family paid Rs10 million, while I contributed Rs5 million and this way Sharfuddin Memon (an adviser to the home minister) brought Satish Anand back home.”
Mirza’s future plans: A life of truth?
He said that he made up his mind to quit the government 20 days ago and also met his 87-year-old father to inform him about his decision. “From this day onwards I have dedicated my life in exposing the name of the killers.” However, he hinted that his wife, National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza, would not be following his lead.
Reaction time: ‘Zulfiqar Mirza has repented’
Nationalist parties have supported the former minister’s stance. “Zulfiqar Mirza watched the crimes happen silently for three-and-a-half years and has finally repented,” said Dr Qadir Magsi, president of the Sindh Taraqi Pasand Party.
“We trust every word Mirza spoke because he held the Holy Quran in his hands,” he said.
He wanted President Zardari to take action against the allegations made by Mirza.
Awami Tehreek’s Ayaz Latif Palijo said that “Mirza’s revelations show that the government was well aware of who was doing what.”
WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY Z ALI
Zulfiqar Mirza’s career in politics
Mirza was born in Hyderabad and was elected from PS-57 in 2008 with 33,111 votes
Sindh home minister
Senior minister works, services and forests
MBBS degree from Liaquat Medical College, Jamshoro
National Assembly member from 1993-1996
Mirza served as Sindh home minister and then went on leave in April, fuelling speculation that he had resigned. He applied for a one-month extension for his leave which ended in July. In his absence, the home ministry portfolio was handled by Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 29th, 2011.