Uzair Baloch JIT

05 Jul 2020

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IN a rather dramatic development, senior members of the Sindh government announced on Friday that they would make the joint investigation team report of Lyari gang kingpin Uzair Baloch, the Baldia factory fire tragedy as well as former Fishermen Cooperative Society head Nisar Morai public. According to the officials, these documents would be uploaded on the Sindh home department’s website on Monday. The move has apparently been made to pre-empt a petition by Federal Minister Ali Zaidi, which he had filed in the Sindh High Court in 2017 before the PTI came to power, asking for these reports to be made public. According to the provincial government’s spokesman Murtaza Wahab, making the reports public would substantiate the PPP’s position that Baloch had nothing to do with the party’s senior leadership. However, Sindh-based PTI leaders have questioned the PPP’s intentions, and have alleged that the party may upload ‘doctored’ reports.

While all of this makes for great political theatre and the release of the JIT reports may well dominate the news cycle on Monday, key questions remain unanswered. For example, how was Baloch — who has been sentenced by a military court for espionage — whisked away by security forces in 2017? What prompted his equally mysterious reappearance earlier this year? And was his confession, which supposedly contained explosive details of his underhanded dealings, and friends in high places within Pakistan’s political parties, given voluntarily? Instead of using Baloch as a pawn to sling mud on each other, Sindh’s political players, especially the ruling PPP, need to ensure that his trials — he reportedly faces over 50 cases for a range of crimes — proceed without delay. In this way, the crimes he is accused of can be established in court. Indeed, the issue of a nexus between criminal elements and political parties is a very serious one, which is why the truth of the matter must be established in a court of law, instead of through media trials.

Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2020