Zafar Baloch, the spokesperson of the banned Peoples Amn Committe, was killed in a targeted attack in Karachi on Wednesday. He was a prominent leader of the troubled Lyari neighbourhood infested with gang wars and ethnic-based violence.
According to initial reports, four armed men on two motorcycles gunned down Baloch and another worker, Muhammad Ali, who were also on motorcycles. Two other friends of Baloch’s, driving another motorcycle behind them, were injured in the firing.
The incident took place at Bizenjo Chowk, Lyari, which is a Peoples Amn Committee stronghold. The PAC had been banned on terrorism charges in October 2011 by the Sindh government. He had helped in forming the party in 2008 with its founder, notorious gangster Rehman Dakait. The latter was killed in an alleged encounter a year later.
DIG (Karachi South) Abdul Khaliq Shaikh confirmed that Baloch and Ali were killed. “We will investigate the case from all angles, including internal rifts in the PAC that could have caused his death.” The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) could also be involved, he said.
The LeJ had earlier been responsible for the football ground blast, also in Lyari, in which 11 people, including children, were killed. That blast had targeted the PAC leadership and Baloch was also present in the area at the time, but did not get hurt.
LeJ believes that Baloch along with other PAC members and Lyari gangsters serve as informants for intelligence agencies and help in their apprehension.
Condemning the incident, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah has asked the police to arrest the assassins and ordered the Sindh IG to submit a report within 24 hours. This is yet another conspiracy against the Sindh government to worsen the law and order situation and derail the peace efforts in Karachi, said the statement released by the CM House.
Sania Naz, Javed Nagori and Qadir Patel, who are Pakistan Peoples Party leaders, MPAs and Lyari residents, reached the CM House after the incident. “Certain elements want to ensure that peace is not established in Lyari or the city,” said Naz.
Meanwhile, Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon said that the government would arrest the killers irrespective of their party affiliation and influence.
Containers have been parked around the Chief Minister House, cordoning it off.
In ensuing violence, there were reports of firing in Lyari and in surrounding areas dominated by the PAC and PPP. At least six people, including a minor boy, have been injured in Lyari and Malir.
A strike has also been called by the Friends of Lyari and City Alliance parties. Habib Jan Baloch, the Friends of Lyari chairman, blamed Nabeel Gabol for the incident.
Who was Zafar Baloch?
PAC chief Uzair Baloch had said, “If you say something to me, you are saying it to Zafar (Baloch).” He was very close to the PAC leadership, including infamous gangster Baba Ladla.
Zafar Baloch handled all of PAC’s media relations, protest demonstrations, government negotiations, police meetings and gang war affairs. He was Uzair Baloch’s front man. He was also said to be close to former Sindh Interior Minister Zulfiqar Mirza.
Before the PAC was formed, he had served as union councillor in 2002 and 2005. He had also been an active worker of the PPP. In 2011, he had resigned from his position as PPP’s District South general secretary in protest of the announced 2011 Lyari operation.
Baloch was crippled in the attack on him the same year, allegedly carried out by rival Lyari gangster Ghaffar Zikri.
He had been named in several cases of murder and other crime. He was also accused of killing some policemen.
Last year, he formed another party called City Alliance, which had representatives from different political parties, including nationalist parties, as members. The City Alliance has also announced a strike today (Thursday).
Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2013.
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