ISLAMABAD: The military took custody of the kingpin of Lyari’s gang war, Uzair Jan Baloch, late Tuesday night. And The Express Tribune has learnt that more politically connected criminals, especially in Sindh and Punjab, are expected to be arrested in the coming days as the civilian and military leaderships have agreed to continue indiscriminate action against ‘troublemakers’.
This was resolved on Wednesday in a one-on-one meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
The duo took stock of the situation in the backdrop of recent crucial developments, including conviction and sentencing of Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav and subsequent Indian threats.
Premier Sharif expressed satisfaction over the gains made thus far in Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad, which was launched in February to “indiscriminately eliminate the residual/latent threat of terrorism, and appreciated the role of armed forces, his office said in a statement.
“Matters pertaining to professional preparedness of Pakistan Army, current security and border situation of the country were discussed during the meeting. The army chief also apprised the premier of the progress made in the ongoing operation Radd-ul-Fasaad,” it added.
Sources say the timing of the meeting is significant as it took place amidst unfolding developments on security and political fronts.
Conspicuously, the meeting was held a day after PPP-linked Lyari gangster Uzair Baloch was taken into custody by the military under the Pakistan Army Act 1952 and Official Secrets Act 1023, on the charges of espionage for foreign intelligence agencies, including India’s RAW.
A day earlier, the military announced that Indian spy Kulbushan Jadhav – who was caught from Balochistan last year and who has confessed to fomenting terrorism in Pakistan – was awarded the death sentence.
India had strongly reacted to Jadhav’s conviction with Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj warning Islamabad of ‘dire consequences’ for bilateral relations if it went ahead with Jadhav’s execution.
Sources said Gen Qamar briefed Sharif about the ongoing counterterrorism drive and stressed that political pressures should be ‘kept aside’ especially in the context of Sindh and Punjab, if maximum gains were to be achieved in Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad.
The two functionaries shared unanimity in view to continue the blanket action against terrorists in Sindh and Punjab irrespective of their alleged political affiliations. This development implies that more arrests of powerful figures – linked to political violence or terrorism – are expected.
An official source referred to the recent press releases, issued by the military’s media wing, to argue that the security brass has taken charge of the anti-terrorism drive and it was now pressing the federal and provincial governments not to hinder the counterterrorism operations.
He said it was the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) which announced the award of the death penalty to the Indian spy, arrest of Uzair Baloch, hanging of TTP terrorists in Sahiwal Jail and killings of hardcore terrorists in an encounter with Punjab Rangers in Dera Ghazi Khan.
“No mercy is the message to whom it may concern,” he said, while commenting on the initiatives taken by the army command in the anti-terrorism recent drive.
Disappearance of Zardari’s aides
In the past weeks at least three key aides of PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari have gone ‘missing’ under suspicious circumstances. Sindh government officials have been pointing the finger at Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan for the ‘abductions.’
However, a senior government official, who once remained actively involved in security affairs, said the Sindh government was well aware that Nisar has nothing to do with the ‘disappearances’. “The Sindh government has no other option but to accept the prevailing ground realities since it is not in a position to take the path of confrontation with the powers that be.”
Sources said the federal government and security establishment have an agreement as far as security arrangements in Karachi and Punjab are concerned since the Centre has shown compliance and support to the military command’s strategy to restore government’s writ and peace in the no-go areas.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, political analyst Kanwar Dilshad referred to the recent developments which, according to him, suggested a strong resolve to wipe out terrorism and criminal violence irrespective of the political connotations.
Some reports suggested that the probe into the Dawn leaks issue also came under discussion during the Sharif-Qamar meeting. However, Dilshad doubted these claims. “This is not the time to discuss the probe into the controversial story. Such issues can wait till a suitable time arrives.”
Interior minister calls on PM
Minister for Interior Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan also met Premier Sharif and briefed him about his meeting with OIC secretary general with a particular reference to the blasphemous material on social media.
Sharif asked Nisar to ensure that all perpetrators of blasphemy were brought to justice, without any exception “as love and appreciation for the Holy Prophet (PBUH) is a part of our faith.”
“The prime minister highly appreciated the proposal forwarded by the interior minister to the OIC secretary general for convening of the OIC Special Ministerial Summit in Islamabad to present a unanimous stand by the Muslim Ummah on blasphemous material,” said the official statement.