Friday, March 5, 2021

ATC acquits Uzair Baloch, orders release if custody not required in any other case

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An antiterrorism court on Wednesday acquitted chief of the defunct Peoples Amn Committee Uzair Jan Baloch and another individual in a case pertaining to encounter and attempt to murder. This is the fourth criminal case in which the sessions and antiterrorism courts have acquitted the alleged Lyari kingpin in recent weeks.

In the present case, Uzair Baloch and Ameen Buledi were charged with instigating the co-accused — Rashid Bengali, Jamshed Sonar, Sajjad Khatri, Sheeraz Comrade, Jabbar, alias Jhengo and Ghaffar Niazi — to resort to violence and attack policemen with intention to kill them in the Baghdadi area of Lyari in April 2012.

The judge noted that the prosecution failed to prove the charges against the two accused — Uzair Baloch and Ameen Buledi — thus exonerated them of the charges due to lack of evidence against them.

The judge directed the prison authorities to release both the men forthwith if their custody was not required in any other case.

A sessions court on Jan 11 acquitted Uzair Baloch in the kidnapping and murder case of a citizen for want of evidence. Uzair has been accused of committing 198 murders during the Lyari gang war and was arrested by the Rangers on January 30, 2016. In April 2017, his custody was handed over to the Pakistan Army after he was accused of espionage. The Army handed him over to the police on April 6, 2020, after three years.

Links with PPP

Uzair Baloch’s controversial links to the ruling Pakistan People’s Party in Sindh have time and again made rounds on national media. While the PPP has categorically denied all such reports, their connection has been supported by pictures and videos.

Earlier, a video footage had surfaced which showed former Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, following his post-election oath-taking ceremony, going to a dinner party organized by Uzair Baloch. He was also joined by other PPP leaders, such as Sharmeela Faruqi, Shehla Raza, Faryal Talpur, and Saeed Ghani.

Yet, the party leaders have denied their affiliation with the gangster. In an interview on May 20, 2015, PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari told Geo News senior journalist Hamid Mir that “Uzair Baloch was never a part of the PPP”.

Read More: Zardari about to lose his fortune?

Similarly, other party leaders such as Maula Bux Chandio, Khursheed Shah and Nisar Khuhro have also denied any links with him.

Orders directly received from PPP leaders

As Uzair Baloch was arrested by the authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) back in 2014-15, sources claim that notorious Lyari gangster Baloch had told UAE authorities that he had committed murders allegedly on the orders of PPP leadership, including its Co-chairman and former president Asif Ali Zardari among others.

Baloch also reportedly claimed that he was in direct contact with the PPP leadership and that he had carried out targeted killings in the city on the orders of PPP leaders. Some of these orders, he claimed, came directly from the PPP co-chairman, former Sindh home minister Zulfiqar Mirza, incumbent Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon and even PPP leader Owais Muzaffar Tappi.

Lyari: a stronghold of a former PPP’s supporter and PPP?

According to a report in The Nation, PPP has been using the gangsters to achieve political objectives in Sindh.  The report alleges that the PPP leadership had awarded the party tickets to the gangsters nominated by Lyari gangs kingpin Uzair Jan Baloch.

It also claims that the organized gangs were established in early 2000, and Lyari divided in between the two main gangsters including Arshad alias Papu gang led by Commander Ghaffar Zikri and Rehman alias Dakait gang with operational commander Noor Muhammad alias Baba Ladla.

The armed clashes continued in the locality since 2008, between the gangs of Arshad Papu and Rehman Dakait but since the PPP government come to power took the gangsters on board to make Lyari PPP stronghold.

The report revealed that Lyari remains a stronghold area of the PPP since the 1970s and the PPP had no need to adopt the gangsters to win 2008 general elections but got seats from Lyari with the support of Rehman Dakait.

PPP came into power while some PPP high ups trying to use gangsters as an army to give a tough time to the rival political parties as renamed the gangs as People Amman Committee (PAC). Later on, the PAC was banned.

Read More: Asif Ali Zardari to be indicted in Park Lane reference on July 6

Analysts believe that Pakistan’s broken criminal justice system is generally unable to convict any powerful person involved in corruption or terrorism. It is yet to be seen as to how do the government and opposition react to the report prepared by the JIT against a former PPP’s supporter.

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