Water under the Lyari bridge: Faryal brings Lyari rebels back into the PPP fold

Published: August 5, 2012

Uzair Baloch led the banned PAC. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: 

The promise of elections holds a thaw for those who were frozen out. After nearly a year of sub-zero relations, the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party has brought to the table Lyari’s two warring groups. The party is, after all, mindful of the high stakes in the constituency where its popularity had sunk.

The president’s sister broke the ice. MNA Faryal Talpur has met Baloch and Kutchi representatives after some groundwork was laid by three PPP Karachi leaders in a series of meetings. Abdul Qadir Patel, Senator Yousaf Baloch and Senator Saeed Ghani were tasked with wooing back the men who represented the wounded voters. It got so bad that men considered loyalists, Uzair and Zafar Baloch, had announced that they would stand against PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari.

The two groups are the Kutchi Raabta Committee, and the Peoples Amn Committee, which was banned by the Sindh government on October 10, 2011. In order to get around the slight difficulty of negotiating with a banned organisation, a Buzurg [Elders] Committee emerged from the Peoples Amn Committee. These elders are Professor Iqbal, Shabir Baloch, Habib Hassan, Mama Umair Ali, Pir Bux Lasi and Kamran Baloch. The Kutchis sent 10 men, including Akhtar Kutchi and Siddique Kutchi.

Initially the PPP met the Buzurg committee and the Kutchis separately. On Friday night, Talpur chaired the third one at Chief Minister House, a significant setting. As expected, the Buzurg Committee complained about the Lyari operation and cases registered against Uzair Baloch, Zafar Baloch and Habib Jan Baloch. This skirmish between the police and resistance in Lyari lasted eight days and left 26 people dead in April. An estimated 150 people were injured, including 28 policemen. The committee put the number of casualties at 40, however. “The people of Lyari have given sacrifices with their lives,” said Habib Hassan, referring to the past under Benazir Bhutto. “But instead of rewarding them, the government has put head money for their arrests.”

Sources privy to the development said that the PPP reportedly assured both groups that cases registered against their people, including PAC’s Uzair Baloch and Zafar Baloch, would be withdrawn. These two key players in Lyari are worth a combined Rs6 million in head money. Compensation would be given to those who either were killed or shot and injured during the Lyari operation. For their part, the Kutchi Raabta Committee complained about the Peoples Amn Committee who according to them was patronizing the gang war in the area to kill their workers. “We have no issue with Baloch people living in Lyari, but some criminal elements have made our lives miserable,” Kareem Kutchi told The Express Tribune on Saturday while referring to his earlier meeting with Talpur. “We have clearly asked her to take action against them.” He did say, however, that Talpur had stressed they mend fences with Baloch families.

Another significant conciliatory overture was the assurance that Lyari’s local leaders would be consulted before candidates were nominated from Lyari for the local and general elections. Kareem Kutchi told The Express Tribune that Talpur had promised that Kutchi and Baloch families will have major stake in local government and general elections. “There are two provincial and one national assembly seats, which will be divided among Kutchi and Baloch living in Lyari,” he said

Zafar Baloch, who once was in charge of security at Bilawal House, Benazir Bhutto’s residence, and later became a founding member of PAC, confirmed the meetings took place. “[Faryal Talpur] is our addi (sister in Sindhi),” he told The Express Tribune. “President Zardari Saheb has no time to meet us. She called us many times to sit and resolve the issue and that is why our people have held a meeting with her.” Sources said a further meeting may take place with the president.

“People living in Lyari, whether they are Baloch or Sindhi, are diehard supporters of the PPP,” remarked Senator Yousuf Baloch, who was one of the three negotiators. “Families fight. But you can fix it.” The fixing will involve a certain amount of legal gymnastics when it comes to the cases against PAC’s Uzair Baloch and Zafar Baloch. “We will look into the matter,” said Senator Yousuf Baloch. “The decision can be reviewed if they are innocent.” This news will not make the Muttahida Qaumi Movement happy. The party is part of the PPP’s coalition government and has been a vocal critic of the PAC, saying it was patronizing gangsters involved in extortion and other crime. On Saturday, the MQM’s Wasay Jalil said, however, that they had no idea about the meetings. “The government has banned the PAC. We cannot comment at the moment on this recent development, but we will give our reaction later on.”

No matter what the reaction is, it seems for now that the PPP and its estranged supporters in Lyari have warmed to each other. Hassan Habib of put it plainly. “It will be difficult for the PPP to get votes from Lyari without the support of PAC,” he said. “We have persuaded Addi Faryal and she has promised to withdraw the cases against PAC leaders.” The winds of change are already blowing. Following the Friday night meeting at CM House, the PPP named Hassan Habib the vice-president of the party’s Karachi division.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2012. 

Reader Comments (15)

  • Big Man
    Aug 5, 2012 - 2:03AM

    More power to Adhi Faryal. Long live PPP.

    Recommend

  • YP Toronto
    Aug 5, 2012 - 2:52AM

    PPP policies stinks.

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  • 110
    Aug 5, 2012 - 5:30AM

    May Allah protect Karachi from Lyari gangsters!

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  • Mo/CA
    Aug 5, 2012 - 6:32AM

    this does not reflect good on the government. Either the PPP led gov. was wrong and lied to us by calling them terrorists, or they are wrong to accept them back into the PPP fold.

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  • Discostu
    Aug 5, 2012 - 8:14AM

    Who cares about the 26 who died. All cases are withdrawn. It’s like doing haj, the slate is wiped clean. All this for political expediency? Have mercy.Recommend

  • bilal
    Aug 5, 2012 - 9:01AM

    amn committee, target killing, crack down, kidnapping, Allah please save this country from these enemies.Recommend

  • bilal
    Aug 5, 2012 - 11:09AM

    @Big Man:
    Think as a pakistani. you and your adi ada have ruined pakistan.

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  • Saqib
    Aug 5, 2012 - 11:42AM

    Please have mercy on Karachites from these thugs.

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  • Sanwal
    Aug 5, 2012 - 12:38PM

    Addi Faryall is really working as defecto CM Sindh and president Pakistan Peoples Party. No doubt this effort will regain the party position in Lyari putting the coalition partners in hot water again.

    Recommend

  • Syed
    Aug 5, 2012 - 12:41PM

    ” Talpur had promised that Kutchi and Baloch families will have major stake in local government and general elections. “

    Only in Pakistan can one promise before elections such powers.

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  • Nasir Baloch
    Aug 5, 2012 - 12:59PM

    A good initiative. We salute MNA Faryal Talpur on organizing the party in well manner. People of Lyari are founding members of PPP and they even can not think to vote and support other parties. This is slap in the face of those who tried to misguide the people of Lyari.

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  • Khalq e Khuda
    Aug 5, 2012 - 1:45PM

    @Saqib:
    @bilal:
    @110:

    Where were you guys when the same PPP government tried to control these elements by conducting an operation despite the very huge political reprecussions? The entire electronic media and online enthusiasts turned it into some sort of genocidal operation against the general people of Lyari. The PPP government looked for support only found criticism from all corners. The men who were supposedly oppressed until few months back are instantaneously oppressors upon their reconciliation with PPP?

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  • Mukesh
    Aug 5, 2012 - 8:02PM

    Uzair Baloch himself is willing to contest the elections. Will PPP give him the seat from Lyari ?

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  • Hajra
    Aug 6, 2012 - 1:31AM

    MQM will not lose its temper on this development, because its longstanding demands are to be met. The issues of extortion and Lyari gangs war was just to mount pressure in order to get their issues resolved.

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  • bilal
    Aug 7, 2012 - 10:44AM

    @Khalq e Khuda:
    We were witnessing the corrupt policies of PPP. Do you have a count how many innocent people have been killed by the injustice zulfiqar mirza statements / decisions. It’s easy to comment living in a protected house. face the reality before encouraging the real culprits.

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