For a man who has been a Bhutto loyalist election after election in Lyari, a crackdown sanctioned by the Pakistan Peoples Party government has inspired ire the likes of which no one could have expected.
Uzair Baloch, who took on the mantle of the powerful Rehman Baloch aka Dakait’s group after his death, has been a central figure in the neighbourhood, which has been a traditional constituency of the PPP. But as the bullets flew between the police and resistance for a fifth day, Uzair’s anger took a nasty turn:
“We will oppose Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari if he contests the election from Lyari.”
Uzair said that he was affiliated with the Pakistan Peoples Party no more and in the next polls they would stand against it. “We are really tired of supporting imported candidates in our area,” he said. For him, Bilawal was neither mature nor conversant with the dynamics of the area’s politics. “How one can assume that a boy will bring about change if he doesn’t even know the language of the people,” he asked.
And now, he is seeing which other party to join and stresses that he has been approached by many and even independent groups.
As far as the operation to ostensibly cleanse Lyari of ‘criminals’ is concerned, Baloch said that he along with his people would resist to the last breath.
Had Dr Zulfiqar Mirza still been home minister the people of Lyari would never have faced this. “I have many things to disclose, which I will share with media later on,” he said.
Uzair dwelt on the amn committee, which he said was the brainchild of Zulfiqar Mirza and President Asif Ali Zardari who wanted to control crime and start social work in Baloch- and Sindhi-dominated areas of Karachi. “The task was given to Rehman Baloch,” he explained before going on to allege that he was killed on the instigation of Nabeel Gabol and other elected MPAs of the area.
The problem was that crime went down 70% when Rehman Baloch aka Dakait took an initiative against street crime in Lyari and Malir. According to Uzair, this did not go down well with elected representatives who were patronising criminals. Rehman Baloch had to be tackled. For his part, however, Nabeel Gabol said that criminals had been relying on blackmail politics. “We will not let 10 per cent of criminals to rule Lyari,” he said. “Every day they blackmail the government, demanding a quota for jobs and budgets for different schemes,” he added.
“None other but the PPP will win again from Lyari. The people of Lyari will elect Bilawal Bhutto if the party nominates him,” he added.
He refuted Uzair’s stance that President Zardari had drummed up the PAC. “It was a gang of criminals who had taken the initiative to make PAC for their own interests. The PPP has nothing to do with it.”
PPP MPA Saleem Hingoro, who also belongs to Lyari, said that during a meeting with President Zardari at Bilawal House all of the elected representatives of the area had endorsed an operation. And now, not just Lyari, but an operation would be started in other volatile areas of Karachi as well.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 2nd, 2012.