Loud bangs rocked Lyari on Sunday evening — and this time, it wasn’t because an entourage of law enforcers had come to town to try to weed out the big fish.
A fireworks display lit up the sky over the football ground in Chakiwara, where people danced and hugged each other at what they felt was a double treat: the news of the killing of Arshad Pappu, one of the area’s most feared gang leaders, and former MNA Nabeel Gabol’s decision to jump ship from the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). All throughout the day, an SMS was circulated among the area’s residents, asking them to join the celebrations outside the football ground.
Trays bursting with ladoos and gulab jamuns did the rounds as the crowd enthusiastically did the traditional Baloch dance, leva, to ethnic songs blaring in the background. “This is the end of a chapter in Lyari’s history. The cruel man [Pappu] has fallen and Gabol, who we disowned, isn’t connected with the area anymore,” said one of the participants with a toothy grin on his face. “Now it’s time for the people of the area to party!” A boy dancing next to him was clearly optimistic about what the changes meant for the area which has been plagued by chronic violence. “The rule of terror is over now that Pappu is gone. He reaped what he sowed – his fate was the result of the blood he spilled over the years. It’s now time for peace and harmony to reign over Lyari.”
While talking to The Express Tribune, the leader of the banned Peoples Amn Committee and Pappu’s nemesis, Uzair Baloch, said, “My people love peace and hate criminals. They disliked Pappu and seem to be very happy that he is no longer among us.” He added that Pappu was involved in the kidnapping and killing of his father, Faiz Muhammad alias Mama Faizu. “I’ve seen the way people were celebrating. Lots of them gathered at the spot where Pappu was found dead, carrying pictures of their loved ones who had been bumped off by his group,” said Baloch. “He finally got a taste of the horrid things he’s being doing to people for a long time.” He added that people were also elated at Gabol’s announcement of parting ways with the PPP. “People disliked him and did not want him to come back to this constituency,”
Zafar Baloch of the PAC also reiterated the fact that the people of Lyari despised Pappu. “The celebrations show that the residents of Lyari had no love for him or his group,” he said, adding that they felt the same way about Gabol.”There was no space left for him in Lyari.”
The people celebrating on the streets also said that Gabol, who won a seat in the Lyari constituency back in the 2008 elections, had fallen out of favour with the area’s residents long ago. Habib Hasan, the president of the Lyari Resource Centre, pinned all the police operations and atrocities in Lyari on Gabol. “He created rifts among party workers and leadership. He did nothing for his voters so people had already disowned him before he announced that he would join the MQM.”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 18th, 2013.