PTI minister says Uzair Baloch JIT report released by Sindh govt 'different from original'

Updated 08 Jul 2020

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Minister for Shipping and Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi and Information Minister Shibli Faraz addressing the media in Islamabad. — Photo courtesy PTI Twitter
Minister for Shipping and Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi and Information Minister Shibli Faraz addressing the media in Islamabad. — Photo courtesy PTI Twitter

Minister for Shipping and Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi on Tuesday made a "passionate" appeal to Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed to take suo motu notice of the Uzair Baloch JIT report released by the Sindh government a day earlier, which he alleged was different from the "original".

He was speaking alongside Information Minister Shibli Faraz at a press conference in Islamabad, where he presented a separate report. "You are also from Karachi, you have seen how Karachi has been systematically destroyed," he said while addressing the CJP.

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On Monday, the Sindh government made public the JIT reports of three high-profile cases — concerning Uzair Baloch, the Baldia factory fire incident and former chairman of the Fishermen Cooperative Society Nisar Morai — after much controversy and litigation in courts.

Addressing the media at the outset of the presser, the information minister said that the PTI had come into power to take the country forward.

"We want to rid the people of those who support gangs [...] Zaidi raised this [issue] in the National Assembly because we believe that the purpose of the report is to inform the public about the facts.

"[Zaidi] also went to court because the reports were not being released. Some parties harmed the province for their personal interests and made it a 'personal state'."

During the press conference, Zaidi criticised the JIT report released by the Sindh government for allegedly omitting important information about the motives behind the killings and on whose orders they were carried out.

He questioned how such things could have happened without "government protection". The ministers then showed a video, comprising clips related to PPP, Baloch and Lyari, to the media.

'Ties to PPP'

Zaidi said that he had initially written a letter to the Sindh chief secretary in 2016 for the reports to be released, before he was elected as a minister, under the Right to Information Act, 2013.

However, after receiving no response, the minister decided to approach the Sindh High Court (SHC).

"When the court directed them to release it, [the Sindh government] still didn't do so. I wrote to the chief secretary again [but] but he failed to give a response once again so I filed a contempt of court petition."

However, the Sindh government then approached the SC against the SHC's decision, he said.

"I wanted to bring up this issue on the floor of the National Assembly. They were giving speeches on the budget but they were acting as patrons for gangsters," he said while referring to the PPP leadership.

Zaidi, presenting what he called was the "original" JIT report on Uzair Baloch, said that the gang leader had confessed that he met (then) Sindh chief minister Qaim Ali Shah and Faryal Talpur, sister of former president Asif Ali Zardari, and asked that the head money against him be removed.

Baloch allegedly said the head money was withdrawn on Talpur and Zardari's order.

"On the last page, Baloch said that he feared they would kill him after these revelations and that Zardari and other political figures might take revenge and asked for protection."

A six-member JIT was formed by the Sindh government in February 2016 to interrogate Baloch, comprising representatives of security and intelligence agencies. The JIT unanimously declared him as "black" — guilty of the crimes alleged, finding that Baloch along with his gang members was involved in a large number of murders/target killings of his rivals and innocent citizens including ethnic and "politically motivated killings".

He claimed that the report he had was different to the one released by the Sindh government.

The Uzair Baloch JIT had six people — one person each from the Special Branch and the Crime Investigation Department, from the Sindh government, as well as officials from the Intelligence Bureau, Rangers, Inter-Services Intelligence and MI, from the federal government, he said.

"All four people from federal government have signed each page of this report, but those from Sindh government have not. What really happened? The reports were made and they made major discoveries."

He claimed that there was a "deadlock" between the Centre and the provincial government over the report but the four people from the federal government had sent it forward.

In April 2016, Dawn had reported that the Rangers and police were at loggerheads over the inclusion of certain disclosures that the Lyari-based gangster made in the custody of the paramilitary force.

The report had quoted sources as saying that the ‘disputed points’ mainly pertained to the alleged links of Uzair Baloch with certain senior politicians and officials of both police and Rangers.

The paramilitary troopers had claimed that the Lyari gangster had said ‘a lot of things’ regarding his ties with senior politicians when they separately interrogated him. However, when he was presented before the JIT, he did not ‘admit’ that he had ties with the top PPP leadership.

"There is a difference between these two reports. Their report is 35 pages, the original report is 43 pages. No one from the Sindh government signed it.

"The original JIT report on Uzair Baloch has six people listed under a subhead titled 'friends'. The first 6 names [are] Dr zulfiqar Mirza, Faryal Talpur, Abdul Qadir Patel, Dr Nisar Morai, Senator Yusuf Baloch and Sharjeel Memon," he said and alleged that these names were taken out in the report released by the provincial government.

He also said that the report containing four signatures also stated that PPP MNA Abdul Qadir Patel had "tasked" Baloch to murder a man for killing his coordinator.

"On page 15, their report says 'accused confessed to murder of Jaleel [...] and informed that the dead body was disposed at an unknown place by his gangsters'.

"The report which we have says 'accused disclosed that in 2011, Qadir Patel of PPP tasked the accused to kill [the victim] as he had murdered [his coordinator]'."

The Sindh government's report doesn't tell us the motive behind the murder and on whose orders it was carried out, he said, adding that it also omitted statements about political affiliations and extortion.

Zaidi added that the "original report" stated that "Qadir Patel, Nisar Morai, Yusuf Baloch, Owais Muzaffar Tappi and Zulfiqar Mirza were key figures in PPP that supported Baloch".

"It also says that after Mirza's resignation when the situation began to go awry, Memon and Tappi had [him] do everything."

Zaidi added that he was not afraid of any legal action against him by the PPP. "Move a privilege motion, go to court [...] I will put this all on the line. I was not a minister yesterday and don't care if I am one tomorrow."

He also said he had spoken with the prime minister who had told him that the government will support him. "That is why Shibli Faraz is sitting next to me."

Zaidi said that "across the board transparency should be ensured" and called for all those named in the report to be investigated. "I am only saying that the law's yardstick should be equal for all."

He claimed that he had "not made a single accusation", adding the JIT report he presented was not conducted under the [PTI] government.

Baldia fire

Talking about the JIT report on the Baldia factory fire, Zaidi said that it was written on the last page that this "gory act of Baldia factory is a glaring example of police inefficiency".

"The JIT carried out a critique of the first investigation mentioned above and it concluded that 'fear and favour were the dominating factors throughout [and] affected police performance'. They said another first information report (FIR) should be registered and another investigation be conducted. This is what was written in the JIT they released," Zaidi said, adding that this was how institutions in the country have been destroyed.

Referring to another report that accused PPP lawmaker Imtiaz Ahmed Sheikh of patronising criminals and using them for political and financial gains, Zaidi said that when it emerged Sindh police superintendent (SP) Dr Rizwan Ahmed was transferred to Shikarpur.

"The report says 'detailed report against criminals, drug peddlers in Chanesar Goth Mehmoodabad'. This is my constituency."

Zaidi alleged that the report revealed that Farhan Ghani (PPP minister Saeed Ghani's brother) facilitated drug peddlers. "What happened when they received the report? They transferred the police official."