KARACHI: The Pakistan Rangers, Sindh, grilled former Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) legislator and Karachi president Abdul Qadir Patel for nearly eight hours on Thursday to trace his alleged links with Lyari gangs and evidence of his role in facilitating medical treatment of suspected gangsters allegedly at the hospitals owned by Dr Asim Hussain, former federal minister and close aide of former president Asif Ali Zardari.
The interrogation was held at the Rangers headquarters just two days after he returned from London where he stayed for more than a year following his differences with the PPP that suspended his membership for publicly criticising the party leadership and the Sindh government.
Though there was no official word from any side about Thursday’s questioning of Mr Patel by the Rangers officials, both security and political sources said the paramilitary force “allowed” the former lawmaker to leave for home with “clear directives” that he would appear again whenever called for further investigation.
“He [Mr Patel] arrived at the headquarters at around 11am and left after 7pm,” said a source.
“The questions ranged from his role as MNA to being party president in Karachi and violence history mainly in Lyari to political leaders’ connections with criminals. Mr Patel did not decline to answer any question and came up with replies to all queries.”
Asked about the reaction of Rangers investigators and their level of satisfaction over Mr Patel’s response, the source said that his departure from the paramilitary force’s headquarters to his residence without facing any arrest despite serious allegations indicated that he had managed to convince them about his role.
“The Rangers officials have not mentioned any next date for the sitting but it seems quite obvious that it was not the end of the investigation into his role in cases of some serious nature,” said the source.
“The Rangers officials could have more sessions with Mr Patel but it is an absolutely wrong impression that a section of the broadcast media tried to create that Mr Patel was arrested or taken into custody. He came, answered the questions of Rangers’ officials and then left for home.”
Elected a member of the National Assembly in the Feb 2008 general elections, Mr Patel is among the few known PPP leaders who represented the party’s Karachi chapter. However, his differences with the party emerged after the May 2013 general elections and became public within the next few months.
Mr Patel then left for London where he stayed for over a year and it was during his absence that the Rangers-led “operation” picked up pace and several new claims emerged about the alleged relations of criminals with the politician and legislators through investigation into some cases, which were initiated after the arrest of some key individuals including Dr Asim Hussain and Uzair Jan Baloch. A joint interrogation team (JIT) report of Dr Hussain clearly mentioned the name of Mr Patel as one of the facilitators of criminal activities of the gangs in Lyari.
“It was also revealed that on the instructions of Asif Ali Zardari, leaders of the PPP like Dr Zulfikar Mirza, Muzaffar Tappi and later Qadir Patel used to look after the issue of groups of Lyari gang war i.e. Uzair Baloch/Baba Ladla groups including illegal weapon supply to these groups,” said the report.
“These groups were involved in extortion, encroachments in the old city areas and targeted killings. These leaders were also involved in managing the armed clashes between LGW [Lyari gang wars] and MQM target killers,” the JIT report added.
Thursday’s questioning of Mr Patel by the Rangers came less than two months after a meeting of estranged PPP leader Dr Zulfikar Mirza with officials of the paramilitary force in February. The former home minister owned his past connection with the suspected gangster during the meeting but denied that he had ever supported Uzair’s alleged criminal activities and that he was ever involved in such activities when he was part of the government.
“Almost the same kind of stance was adopted by Mr Patel,” said the source.
“The two leaders were found in agreement in their claims over Uzair. The two admitted their relations with him but both denied it as personal one blaming it over party decision to keep alliance with Uzair for political gains in Lyari.”
Published in Dawn, April 15th, 2016