The people of Lyari are stocking up on groceries or telephoning relatives across the city to take them in as a showdown is brewing. Arshad Pappu is back.
Pappu, as he is commonly known, is one of the key players in the Lyari gang wars. He was arrested in 2006 but now, partly because of a lack of evidence, he is out on bail or has been acquitted in the 60-something cases against him. He was being kept at a jail in Balochistan.
Gadani jail superintendent, Ghulam Murtaza, told The Express Tribune that Pappu was released on Thursday. “All the anti-terrorism court cases ended,” he said. “He was released on the orders of a sessions judge.”
Now that he is out, the word on the street is that he and his men are in a huddle to plot their comeback to Lyari. “This Pappu is actually pretty dangerous,” said a scared Lyari resident. “He is the kind of guy who leaves his men behind because he’s so far into the fight.”
His arch rival Rehman Dakait may be dead, but that did not mean the man’s lieutenants, such as Baba Ladla, did not keep the fires stoked at home in the form of his creation, the Peoples Amn Committee (PAC), which is currently banned by the government. The PAC’s key figures are Zafar Baloch and Uzair Baloch.
According to the neighbourhood’s residents, they have been receiving messages from Pappu’s gang to unite against the PAC. “Pappu’s people are coming and we’re getting messages that we need to end the PAC or they will come and clean it up in a day,” said one resident. “The purpose of the messages is to get people who are fed up of the PAC to stand up against it. Now they will back Pappu.”
Since Pappu’s arrest in 2006 from Lyari by CID SSP Fayyaz Khan, the gang had fallen into disarray. Ghaffar Zikri held it together in Pappu’s absence but he left Lyari shortly after the killing of Rehman Dakait because it grew too dangerous to stay there.
After Rehman Dakait’s death, his PAC faced stiff resistance from a new entity, the Kutchi Rabita Committee (KRC). The KRC is now, according to neighbourhood sources, part of an alliance being built against the PAC. “There is no doubt that we and [Pappu] have one enemy,” said KRC leader Daud Kutchi. “If he comes with clean intentions, they we’ll welcome him with open arms.” The alliance includes Arshad Pappu, Ghaffar Zikri, Sheraz Zikri, Faizu Dada, Rauf Baloch and Amjad Lashari. It has the backing of some political and non-political figures and a major political party in Karachi. They all have one enemy, the PAC.
“All of us banding together is kind of like having Quaid-e-Azam on both sides of the coin,” Pappu’s man cryptically remarked. “All you need to know is that Lyari’s people are going to be freed of the slavery of the beasts very soon.”
The police have been eyeing these developments warily. CID’s SSP Fayyaz Khan said he did not doubt that a gang war would break out as their prime leader had arrived. “It was really difficult to catch Arshad Pappu,” he said “Now it will be even more difficult.”
Another key police officer in Lyari, SSP Chaudhry Aslam Khan, said however that they would take action against Pappu if there is trouble. “Now, how are we going to get a hold of him,” he said, referring to the fact that notices need to be sent for the cases that Pappu is out on bail for.
The PAC or Dakait’s men are also being vigilant. “They [Pappu and his partners] are again planning to get Lyari back but Lyari is ours and will stay ours,” said PAC chief Uzair Baloch. “Jiyalas sacrificed their lives before and will do it again but we won’t let such terrorists enter again.”
Meanwhile, the KRC demanded on Friday that the police set up permanent check posts in Lyari. At a press conference at the Karachi Press Club, KPC leader Hussain Kutchi brought up the PAC, saying it was banned but continued to operate in Lyari. He said that the PAC was using the Pakistan Peoples Party as a cover for illegal activities.
He added that since April 2009, nearly 70 KRC people had been killed and nearly 600 people from Lyari fell victim to target killings. According to Hussain, the Kutchis were the PPP’s only vote bank in Karachi. “If the Kutchis did not support the PPP in Karachi they would not be able to get a seat,” he claimed.
While responding to a question about the KRC’s links with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Hussain said that there was no such thing. He added that the Lyari gangsters were trying to ruin the relationship between the PPP and KRC. “If the PPP does not try to salvage the relationship then we will be free to decide our future,” he said. “If our demands are not met, then we will protest in front of Bilawal House or Chief Minister House.”
PAC vice president held
Earlier in the day, the authorities held a vice president of PAC. According to sources in the police, Israr Baloch was taken into custody in Lea Market. He was taken to an undisclosed location for questioning. The source claims that the PAC leader was caught by the Rangers and handed over to the Special Investigation Unit. PAC leader Zafar Baloch confirmed that Israr was arrested but said that the law enforcement agents took him into custody for routine questioning. No case was registered when this report was filed.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 18th, 2012.