• Federal minister accuses provincial govt of manipulating joint probe report on Uzair Baloch, asks for court intervention

• Murtaza Wahab casts doubt on the documents showed by Ali Zaidi to media

KARACHI: The Sindh government on Tuesday questioned the authenticity and source of the documents that a federal minister belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) dubbed as the ‘original JIT report’ before the media for what it said ‘political point-scoring’.

Federal Minister for Shipping and Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi earlier told a press conference that the Sindh government had manipulated Joint Investigation Team (JIT) reports and asked Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed to intervene in the matter.

Just a day ago, the Sindh government had uploaded the JIT reports regarding the deadly Baldia factory fire, Uzair Baloch and former chairman of the Fishermen Cooperative Society Nisar Morai on the official website of the provincial home department, making them accessible to public.

While addressing a press conference in response to the fresh allegations levelled by the federal minister against the Pakistan Peoples Party-led Sindh government, the spokesperson for the provincial government and adviser to the chief minister on law, Barrister Murtaza Wahab, said the PTI minister showed to the media the documents, which did not carry the signatures of seven-member JIT, only for political point-scoring.

He said a JIT comprised seven officials from different institutions and the JITs were formed on the initiative of the provincial government. “The teams after completing their job had sent their reports to the Sindh home department. These are the official documents, which were made public by the Sindh government. Now I wonder who’s providing documents to Ali Zaidi which he has been showing to the media,” the spokesperson said.

Perhaps, he added, the PTI government and its key members out of embarrassment were making false claims because the reports did not carry any name of the PPP leadership.

Accompanied by provincial ministers Nasir Shah, Saeed Ghani and MNA Abdul Qadir Patel, Barrister Wahab said the PTI had levelled false allegations against PPP leaders Asif Ali Zardri and Faryal Talpur but his claims turned out to be a bundle of lies. “We have shown the documents with signatures of all the officials concerned,” he said.

“But you would not find all those signatures on the documents shown by our federal minister. So now the question arises that if a document does not have all the signatures, where did it come from?

“Who gave it to him? The Sindh government didn’t receive any such document. Who provided them to Ali Zaidi or is he just creating them himself? The federal minister didn’t answer any of these questions,” the spokesperson said.

Barrister Wahab called Mr Zaidi “mentally unfit” and demanded that he tender an apology for making false allegations against former president of Pakistan. He said the federal minister relied on ‘speculative content of social media’ and it’s high time that he and other members of the federal government focus on good governance.

“On one hand our federal government is failing in every segment of governance and on the other we find its key ministers busy in such non-serious debate. It would be much better for him and people of Pakistan that he focuses on issues related to governance and offer some relief to the people, who have elected him,” he added.

Centre says Sindh ‘manipulated’ JIT report

Earlier, federal Minister for Shipping and Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi addressed a press conference to accuse the Sindh government of manipulating the JIT reports to protect the PPP leadership.

Accompanied by federal Minister for Information Senator Shibli Faraz, the minister for maritime affairs told the media that the report released by the Sindh government was different from the “original” JIT report on Uzair Baloch.

He said the JIT report made public by the Sindh government had omitted important information about the motive for the killings and on whose orders they were carried out. “I ask how such things could have happened without the government protection,” he remarked.

Mr Zaidi said that he discussed the serious issue with Prime Minister Imran Khan, who had told him that the federal government would support him. “That is why Shibli Faraz is sitting next to me,” he said and asked Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed to take suo motu notice of the Baloch JIT report.

He said 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,” he remarked.

He claimed to present the “original” JIT report on Uzair Baloch to media that had 43 pages contrary to the 35-page report released by the Sindh government. “In the original report the gang leader (Uzair Baloch) had confessed that he met the 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,” he informed the media.

The minister said that in the original report Uzair Baloch said the head money had been withdrawn on the order of the former president and his sister. “On the last page, Baloch said he feared they would kill him after these revelations and that Zardari and other political figures might take revenge against him, and asked for protection.”

Mr Zaidi said the JIT comprising six members, constituted by the Sindh government in February 2016 to interrogate Uzair Baloch, unanimously declared him “black”, finding him along with his gang members involved in a large number of murders/targeted killings of his rivals and innocent citizens including ethnic and politically motivated killings.

Mr Zaidi alleged that the “original” report stated that Qadir Patel, Nisar Morai, Yusuf Baloch, Owais Muzaffar and Zulfiqar Mirza were the key figures who supported Uzair Baloch.

“It also says that after Zulfiqar Mirza resigned as Home Minister Sindh when the situation began to get out of control, Sharjeel Memon and Muzaffar Tappi operated with Uzair Baloch and had him do things,” he added.

Referring to another report accusing PPP lawmaker Imtiaz Ahmed Sheikh of patronising criminals and using them for political and financial gains, Mr Zaidi alleged that Farhan Ghani brother of PPP minister Saeed Ghani facilitated drug peddlers.

In reply to a question about the JIT report on the deadly Baldia factory fire that claimed 259 lives, the federal minister said it was written on its last page that this “gory act of Baldia factory is a glaring example of police inefficiency”.

Our staff reporter in Islamabad also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, July 8th, 2020