The grave allegations continue to trickle in as Zulfiqar Mirza’s travelling political spectacle gains popular momentum.
At a massive public gathering in Lyari on Friday, the former home minister claimed he had apprehended target killers from ‘sector offices’ with heavy arms and ammunition but had to release them on Rehman Malik’s orders.
In a fiery speech at the end of a several-hour-long rally across the city, Mirza alleged that Malik had warned him that the army and the Inter-Services Intelligence would topple the government if target killers were arrested.
“I released the killers because I wanted to see Pakistan flourish,” Mirza said to an enthralled audience.
Calling the federal interior minister a “Jewish and an American agent working to destroy Pakistan,” Mirza said Malik’s “drama would continue until the disintegration of Pakistan.”
Malik used to misinform Benazir Bhutto earlier and he is doing the same with the president and prime minister now, Mirza alleged.
In a brazen call to arms, Mirza said he was ‘proud’ to have issued 300,000 weapon licences during his tenure.
“I gave the arms licences to the people of Karachi, not for aerial firing at wedding ceremonies but for times like these when no one is safe,” he said.
Mirza’s public gathering in Lyari, termed the largest since Benazir’s rally in the area in 1987, was also addressed by chief of Sindh Nationalist Party (SNP) Ameer Bhumbhro and key leaders of the defunct People’s Amn Committee Uzair and Zafar Baloch.
Bhumbhro’s platitudes were followed by an initially-hesitant Zafar Baloch who went on to deliver an expletive-laden tirade against dictators, Rehman Malik and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). Uzair Baloch followed, expressing his dissatisfaction at the provincial PPP leadership for conducting an operation in Lyari.
He also blamed former MNA Nabeel Gabol, elected from Lyari, for the negative image of the area.
Procession to Lyari
Earlier in the day, Mirza was taken to Lyari from Bin Qasim town in a massive procession organised by his followers – who were armed to the teeth and displayed automatic weapons openly.
Supporters bearing flags of SNP, Awami National Party, Punjabi Pukhtoon Ittehad (PPI) and the PPP accompanied the procession.
The procession reached the venue, Chakiwara Chowk in Lyari, around 8pm.
Invoking ethnic sentiments
Earlier, playing to the gallery in his home constituency, Mirza said the “time has gone when Sindhis were killed … the soldiers of Benazir Bhutto will not let this happen [any more].”
“For every innocent life taken in Karachi, five looters and terrorists would be killed,” Mirza said while addressing a press conference at his residence in Badin.
“I have given courage to millions of people to speak up and stand against the tyranny,” he said, and appealed to ‘the people of Sindh’ to use [arms] to save Pakistan’.
Continuing his tirade against the MQM, Mirza said reconciliation is ‘not possible with a political party that is trying to break Pakistan.’
He admitted to sponsoring a website where ‘all evidence against the MQM will be uploaded.’
“I am yet to unveil 90 percent of the information I have,” he said.
“Ishratul Ebad is the most corrupt governor the province ever had,” Mirza alleged, adding that chairman Malir Development Authority had admitted during an investigation that Ebad was his partner in the project and was allotted 27,000 plots in the scheme.
He added that he had turned down MQM’s request for inducting 6,000 ‘criminals’ in the police force.
Turning the guns against his former colleagues, Mirza criticised Chief Minister Sindh Qaim Ali Shah for promptly accepting his resignation, saying the speed negated the general impression that Shah was a lazy person.
Mirza also said he would expose the name of the “airhostess” for whom Rehman Malik visits Karachi frequently.
Earlier, Malik had directed Inspector General Sindh Police to depute a senior officer to protect Mirza’s rally. Bringing out a rally is a right of every citizen or political leader and it was the duty of law enforcers to protect them, Malik had said.
[With additional reporting by Zeeshan Bhatty in Hyderabad.]
Published in The Express Tribune, September 3rd, 2011.