Faryal's patronage and Zardari's job offers: 10 takeaways from PTI minister's 'original' Uzair Baloch JIT
The joint investigation team (JIT) report made public by the Sindh government on Monday evening detailing the criminal doings of alleged Lyari gang warfare kingpin Uzair Jan Baloch contained some stunning revelations, including that of espionage, murder and a city held hostage through bullets and terror.
What it did not include, however, was an explicit or direct link between Baloch's umpteen alleged misdeeds and the top ranks of the PPP — the party that has occupied Sindh's corridors of power for more than a decade. And PTI's Minister for Shipping and Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi thinks the provincial government is not coming clean.
On Tuesday, he flourished before the media a JIT report of his own, saying it was the "original", while the one released by the Sindh government was a different version.
Zaidi criticised the JIT report made public by the Sindh home department for allegedly omitting important information about the motives behind the killings carried out by Uzair Baloch, and on whose orders they were executed. He questioned how such things could have happened without "government protection".
However, it is important to note that the report shared by Zaidi, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, states that it is one of two parts of the Uzair Baloch JIT report and that the part presented by the minister would be "kept confidential" until asked for by the "competent authority".
PPP, in reaction to Zaidi’s allegations, held its own presser and inquired as to who the source of this document was, given that it wasn't submitted to the Sindh government and was signed by only four members of the six-member JIT.
Speaking to Dawn.com, Zaidi said that the JIT report he had shared carried the same statements as those recorded by Baloch before a judicial magistrate.
While the official status of the report shared by Zaidi remains uncertain, it does contain a number of damning 'revelations'. Here are 10 key takeaways:
1) Uzair Baloch's family was affiliated with the PPP and he himself remained a part of the PPP "since his childhood". Some of his "friends" listed in the report include former home minister and estranged PPP leader Dr Zulfikar Mirza, ex-president Asif Ali Zardari's sister Faryal Talpur, PPP MNA Abdul Qadir Patel, former chairman of the Fishermen Cooperative Society Nisar Morai, Senator Yousaf Baloch and former Sindh minister Sharjeel Memon. It was "on the instructions of PPP leadership" that Uzair Baloch carried out criminal activities against target killers and activists belonging to the MQM, the JIT found.
2) Qadir Patel, Yousaf Baloch, Nisar Morai, Owais Muzaffar Tappi and Zulfiqar Mirza were the key figures in the PPP "who supported Uzair Baloch with arms and finances on the direction of Asif Ali Zardari", according to the JIT version shared by Zaidi. Tappi, a close aide of Zardari, used to contact Baloch for the provision of armed persons for land grabbing and illegal occupation of private properties.
3) Prior to the 2013 general elections, Baloch "forced" the PPP to grant party tickets to the candidates of his choice, to which the party obliged, hence the MNAs/MPAs in the assemblies that lasted until 2018 were of "Uzair Baloch's choice".
4) Baloch carried out numerous criminal activities with the support of a number of police officers, at least one of whom (SSP Farooq Awan) he paid on a monthly basis after collecting extortion from various gambling dens. On his recommendation, at least eight police officials "who used to support him and his gangsters" were posted on desired positions, including seven as station house officers.
5) Baloch claimed to have received millions of rupees in extortion for settling property and land disputes at the behest of PPP leaders such as Sharjeel Memon and Sain Manzoor. In one such case, Baloch said he received Rs5 million from a family for settling their property dispute out of which Rs3m went to Memon. Baloch was also paid millions for allegedly helping Qadir Patel grab government land.
6) According to the report, Baloch had Saeed Khan appointed as the chairman of the fisheries department through Faryal Talpur and during his tenure, Baloch extorted Rs2m per month while Talpur was getting a share of Rs10m per month.
7) Baloch said in 2011 he ordered the kidnapping and eventual murder of one Jalil on the directions of PPP's Qadir Patel, because Jalil's brother Razzaq Commando had murdered Patel's coordinator, Eidhi Amin. At one point, Baloch said he was conveyed a message of praise from Zardari for the targeted killing of opponents.
8) The Sindh government had placed head money on Baloch and other members of his gang following the Lyari operation in 2012. However, the notification announcing the head money was withdrawn after Baloch met with Faryal Talpur and then chief minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah. Additionally, on the direction of Talpur and Zardari, cases in which the state was party were withdrawn against Baloch and others. A number of top PPP leaders also attended a dinner hosted by Baloch where Talpur asked him to ensure that Lyari continued to be "the fort of PPP" and to keep opponents "at gunpoint".
9) Baloch disclosed that when he was "annoyed" with the PPP leadership in 2012, various political parties including the MQM, PTI and PML-N contacted him to join their parties. However, Zardari and Talpur sent messages asking him not to leave the PPP and in return allotted him 500 vacancies of grade 1 to 14 in the Sindh government.
10) With the help of other gang members, Baloch managed as many as 40 bungalows in the surroundings of Bilawal House Karachi which were purchased by Zardari on nominal prices "by exerting pressure" through Baloch's gang.