Posts Tagged ‘Lyari operation’


By Zia Ur Rehman

March 9, 2016

Incapable of maintaining their hegemony following the Rangers-led operation, gangsters now targeting area’s political and social activists

Karachi: With nominal peace having been restored in Lyari following the Rangers-led operation against warring gangs, otherwise operating with impunity, residents of the area were, however, still wary of incidents of targeted killing of political and civil society activists and the government’s failure to apprehend the killers.


Mir Ishtiaq Baloch, a local leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was gunned down by unidentified men on January 17 outside his office located at Ahmed Shah Bukhari road in Lyari – lying within the jurisdiction of the Baghdadi police station.

The 32-year-old was popularly known as Mullah Pappu in the area and had contested local bodies’ poll for the post of chairman from UC-8 on the PML-N’s ticket; he, however, lost by only 40 votes.

He was the younger brother of a central leader of the PML-N, Mir Ashfaq Baloch.

Interviews with local residents and police suggest that a local gang leader by the name of Gulabo, associated with the area’s bigwigs Ghaffar Zikri and Baba Ladla, was behind Ishtiaq’s killing.

They believe that he was killed for the sole purpose of instilling fear of the gangs among the area’s residents.

“The operation against gangsters has no doubt brought peace to Lyari and the locals having witnessed years of bloodshed were confident that violence was finally coming to an end,” claimed Lala Fateh Nazar, a social activist in Lyari.

However, Nazar added, that the gang’s commanders after being left weakened because of the operation, took to targeting political and social figures who were at the forefront in supporting the law enforcement agencies’ crackdown.

“Ishtiaq was vocal in condemning the atrocities of the gangs and had also announced to organise a peace rally before he was murdered,” informed a school teacher of the area. The rally was to send out a message to the entire city that Lyari was no more a no-go area, he added.

According to Ashfaq, the government was not interested in arresting the culprits involved in killing his brother.

He got an FIR registered at the Baghdadi police station against Gulabo, and soon after a number of gangsters associated with Gulabo resorted to aerial firing in the street where Ashfaq resides.

“Over two months have passed since the murder of my brother but nobody has been arrested so far. And the failure of law enforcement agencies’ to arrest the killers has whipped up fear among the local political and social activists of the area,” added a disgruntled Ashfaq.

“Incidents of attacking and threatening social and political activists in recent months show that violence has resurfaced in Lyari,” said another civil society activist, who recently moved to Gizri area owing to security concerns.

SP Lyari, Aftab Nizamani, while commenting over Ishtiaq’s murder said police were trying to arrest Gulabo, who, he claimed, went underground all the while the operating was being conducted.

“He narrowly escaped three raids conducted by the police,” the SP claimed.

A number of locals still believed that the gangs were not in a position to regain their lost strength but would continue assert their presence through carrying out targeted attacks.


By Zia Ur Rehman

April 13-19, 2012

On April 3, only three buses left the Aath Chowk in the restive area of Lyari – a traditional Pakistan People Party (PPP) stronghold – for Garhi Khuda Bakhsh to attend the 33rd death anniversary of party founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. For the first time in many years, the PPP anthem ‘Dila Teer Bija’ was not playing in the streets of Lyari on a day the party considers very significant.

“There was a silent boycott of the event by the people of Lyari,” said Habib Jan, a member of PPP’s Sindh Council and convener of Friends of Lyari. “This year, locals gathered in Lyari on April 4 to mourn the deaths of PPP workers killed by police during an operation, and also paid homage to Bhutto.”

The situation in Lyari is tense after violent clashes between police and residents in reaction to the death of Saqib Pathan, a worker of the defunct Peoples Aman Committee (PAC), in an alleged encounter with the CID on April 1. CID officer Chaudhry Aslam said Saqib was wanted by the police in several criminal cases. Protesters said he had been abducted by Aslam and his bullet riddled body was dumped on the street an hour later. On his mother’s petition, a court asked the police to register a case against Aslam and Lyari MNA Nabeel Gabol if a cognizable offence was found to have been committed.

At least 12 people were killed during the clashes, according to news reports, and more than 20 injured. Five of them were policemen.

In a proxy war over control of Lyari, the PPP and the MQM are said to support armed gangs; that has often caused Baloch-Mohajir ethnic clashes

Police says the operation was launched to arrest gangsters involved in street crime and extortion. The action followed an MQM agitation against extortion in Karachi. A PPP provincial minister said the government had been facing severe pressure from the MQM, its ally in the province and the center, to launch an operation against criminals who had found safe havens in the Lyari.

Residents of the area question why Lyari has been identified as the only save haven for gangsters. “We are not against an operation against criminals and extortionists,” said Waja Bashir, a Lyari-based social activist. “Criminal activities are going on all over the city, and a comprehensive operation should have been launched, instead of singling out Lyari.” He admitted a small part of Lyari was a hub of criminal activities, “but that is only a small part of the entire area.”

Lyari, one of the 18 towns of Karachi, is a Baloch majority area and the city’s oldest locality. The Baloch, who are among the indigenous population of Karachi, have traditionally aligned themselves with the PPP. “Lyari has served as a veritable fortress for the PPP since its inception, and its poor but brave people have supported Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto, Asif Ali Zardari and all their nominees,” Jan said.

He said the establishment had conspired to involve the Baloch people of Lyari in drugs and criminal activity because they were PPP supporters. “They played an active role in the restoration of democracy in Pakistan,” he said. “The importance of Baloch areas of Lyari for the PPP can be judged from the fact that Benazir Bhutto had selected Lyari town for her wedding ceremony.”

Law and order in Lyari has been worsening for the last decade. While criminal elements have destroyed its social fabric, the state has also largely neglected the locality. It is considered one of the most neglected in terms of state-funded development in education, health, sanitation and employment, residents complain.

“We have always proven our loyalty to the PPP but it has always given us body bags in return,” said Najeeb Baloch, a party worker from Lyari. Two of Baloch’s nephews died on October 18, 2007, when Benazir Bhutto’s rally was attacked at Karsaz. “The operation in Lyari was undertaken just to please a coalition partner – the MQM,” he said.

“Baloch are the indigenous people of Karachi and have been living here for the last 700 years,” said Akbar Hout, another political activist. “Unfortunately, they are being treated as enemies everywhere in the country. It seems that the government wants to compel the Baloch youth of Lyari to take up arms like the youth in Balochistan.”

In a proxy war over control of Lyari, the PPP and the MQM are said to support armed gangs – the PAC and the Arshad Pappu Group. This has often caused Baloch-Mohajir ethnic clashes. Recently, the PAC faced resistance from a new entity, the Kutchi Rabita Committee (KRC), a representative organization of Kutchi community. There is also a reported rivalry within supporters of the PPP in Lyari.

“The PAC is fighting with other local criminal gangs, such as those run by Arshad Pappu, Ghaffar Zikri, Faizu Dada, Rauf Baloch and Amjad Lashari. Lyari has become a battleground, ” said a local police official. These gang wars were most common in Baloch dominated areas, he added.

Some PPP workers hold their MNA MNA Nabeel Gabol responsible for the situation in Lyari. “Gabol is failing miserably on many counts,” said Hout, “and now he is creating a rift between the Baloch and the Kutchi communities of Lyari.”

Lyari’s Baloch are thinking of replacing him with their own representative in the next election, and there is speculation their candidate will be Uzair Jan Baloch, head of the PAC.

Gabol, who supports the operation in Lyari, believes the PPP would have to eliminate criminal elements in their party and the PAC to save his constituency. “These criminals will cause irreparable damage to the PPP if they are not dealt with sternly,” he said. “They must not be spared, of the party will have to face the consequences in the coming elections.”

Ethnic Baloch political parties are seeing a welcome change in Lyari. “”In the past, the slogans on Lyari’s walls were in support of the PPP,” said Rahim Baloch, a former leader of Baloch Students Organisation (BSO). “But now, they have been replaced by slogans in favour of Allah Nazar Baloch, Brahamdagh Bugti, Khair Bakhsh Marri, an ‘independent Balochistan’, and ‘Khan Bhai’ (Rehman Baloch).”

He said the PAC had been formed and supported by the PPP government in order to weaken the Baloch nationalist movement in Lyari.

Baloch political parties were never interested in owning the Baloch of Karachi in the past, because they supported the PPP. But the situation in Balochistan and the operations in Lyari may change that.