KARACHI: The Sindh government on Friday announced that it would make public next week the joint investigation team (JIT) reports of three high-profile and much-publicised cases, but challenged federal minister Ali Zaidi of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf to show any name mentioned in the documents that may prove involvement of top leaders of the Pakistan Peoples Party in criminal activities.
The announcement came at a press conference of Chief Minister’s Law Adviser and provincial government’s spokesperson Barrister Murtaza Wahab, who said that the JIT reports of the Baldia factory fire incident, chief of outlawed Peoples Amn Committee Uzair Jan Baloch and former chairman of the Fishermen Cooperative Society Nisar Morai would be uploaded on the website of the home department for public by Monday.
“But it doesn’t end here,” he said. “Now it’s turn of Ali Zaidi to show any name of PPP leaders mentioned in the report. The reports would be available on home department’s website by Monday and I invite you all to go through the facts carried in the reports. The truth is that our federal minister has consistently been lying and it’s time for him to apologise and resign from his position.”
Only last week, the provincial authorities had informed the Sindh High Court that they had challenged its order to make public the three JIT reports before the Supreme Court. This came in response to a petition of Mr Zaidi, seeking to make public all three JIT reports. He had petitioned the high court in 2017 and submitted that these JIT reports had contained startling disclosures about the involvement of politicians in crimes such as murder and extortion.
Accompanied by Information Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah and Irrigation Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal, Barrister Wahab said that the PPP government was not under any pressure, neither it wanted to score points on political grounds.
Ali Zaidi’s resignation demanded
“Ali Zaidi showed papers at the National Assembly and accused the Sindh government of deliberately concealing the facts mentioned in the JITs,” said minister Siyal. “He was claiming to have proofs that the PPP leaders including Asif Ali Zardari had close ties with Uzair Baloch and the gangster executed several crimes on the directives of the former president of Pakistan. I ask Mr Zaidi to prove these allegations or apologise and resign from the seat of MNA.”
PTI fears provincial govt may come up with ‘fake reports’
Answering questions, Nasir Shah and Mr Wahab conceded that the alleged leader of a criminal gang in Lyari had close ties with politicians when he was the most feared man in the city. They demanded law enforcement agencies and relevant authorities investigate those facts.
“We all know Uzair Baloch was a close friend of Dr Zulfikar Mirza,” said Barrister Wahab.
Dr Mirza, once a key PPP leader and provincial minister, has long been estranged from his former party.
“He on public forums had admitted his connections with Uzair Baloch when he was Sindh home minister. And who this Zulfikar Mirza is? Mr Ali Zaidi should ask his cabinet colleague and ally in the government Dr Fehmida Mirza, [wife of Mirza].”
About the Baldia factory fire JIT report, Mr Shah, without naming any party or individual though clearly alluding to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, asked the PTI minister to check the rank and file of their allied parties and he would come to know about the facilitators of the tragic incident.
‘PPP can’t deny ties with Uzair Baloch’
On the other hand, PTI leaders feared that the Sindh government could come up with “fake JIT reports for face saving” and warned that any such move would lead to a strong reaction from the people of Sindh.
Accompanied by MPAs Raja Azhar, Kareem Bux Gabol, Jam Farooq Ahmed and other party leaders, senior PTI leader and its parliamentary party leader in the Sindh Assembly Haleem Adil Sheikh told a press conference that it was an irony that the people who were rejected by the voters of their constituencies were demanding resignation of an elected member and federal minister.
“We are sure that they are going to make fake reports public in the name of JITs,” he said. “It is an open secret that these people have patronised Uzair Baloch. The PPP used to give election tickets from Lyari on the recommendations of Uzair Baloch. This party used to create a law and order situation in Karachi with the help of Uzair Baloch. History shows PPP footprints from Al-Zulfikar to gangs in Lyari. The pictures of top leadership of the PPP with Uzair Baloch are not fake.”
Governor rule still a possibility
Despite a clear message from Prime Minister Imran Khan against any possibility of governor rule in Sindh, provincial PTI legislators and leaders insisted that it was still a possibility.
About a recent controversy regarding tax collection, he said: “Under the constitutional framework, the provinces are bound to collect tax on behalf of the federal government and if a province refuses to discharge this constitutional obligation, governor rule be imposed there.
“How they would collect tax on behalf of the federation and then refuse to give this tax to the federal government? This is why we feel that Sindh may get governor rule. The PTI-Sindh believes that a constitutional change in Sindh province is possible and the chances of governor rule in the province cannot be overruled.”
Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2020