KARACHI: Sindh Human Settlement Minister Ghulam Murtaza Baloch lost his life to the novel coronavirus on Tuesday, dealing a blow to the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) as it lost a long-standing 'jiyala' to the deadly contagion. Baloch was 56.
Baloch, who was the president of PPP Malir and the Sindh government's focal person for coronavirus in the district, tested positive for Covid-19 on May 14 and was admitted to a private hospital when he began experiencing severe respiratory distress.
"He was in the [isolation] ward for two or three days, but then he was shifted to the intensive care unit and later put on a ventilator," Shahjahan Sheikh, the minister's spokesperson, told The Express Tribune. "He underwent passive immunisation, also known as plasma therapy, this week."
According to Sheikh, when Baloch's condition improved and he appeared to be recovering from the disease, the doctors removed him from the ventilator and shifted him back to the ward. "Soon after, his condition worsened again. He passed away when he was being shifted to the ventilator once more."
Baloch's family members stated that he had been infected during his efforts in the campaign against the virus.
"He was diabetic and a heart patient who had undergone an angiography some time ago," said a family member.
He is survived by two wives and eight children.
Baloch, who hailed from Haji Faqeer Mohammad Goth in Gadap Town, twice served as town nazim during the tenure of President Pervez Musharraf and became an MPA in 2013 after defeating the Muttahida Qaumi Movement candidate in Malir by-polls.
Soon after his victory, he was appointed the provincial labour minister by the PPP government.
In the last general elections, he not only bagged the PS-188 seat but, as PPP's Malir district president, he played a pivotal role in winning the party five Sindh Assembly and two National Assembly seats. Following the election, he was given the Katchi Abadis portfolio, which was later renamed the Human Settlements portfolio.
As news of his passing emerged, many politicians condoled his death.
"Baloch was a true jiyala who stood by the party at every difficult time," said PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah called him brave and a hard worker, adding that his services for the party were matchless.
"He dedicated 30 years to the PPP and was a true jiyala," said Malir-based journalist Waheed Siyal, paying tribute to Baloch. "The door to his office was always open and he never missed a phone call."
Baloch was laid to rest at the graveyard at his village in Gadap.