Tag Archives: Lyari

Plan of action: Armed with education, Lyari youth plan to combat crime

KARACHI: The youth of Lyari are determined to continue their struggle against criminals.

Their main weapon: education.

Their aim: to prove that they are talented, committed and peaceful citizens of the country’s largest financial hub.

“We almost lost everything in the past at the hands of these criminals,” said Musawar Ali, a teacher at a private school in Lyari. “Today, the area has finally become peaceful due to our courage.” He was of the opinion that criminals could only rule over the public if the latter bowed before them.

Lyari residents gathered at the Lyari Youth Café on Tuesday to share their experiences and discuss the efforts to restore peace in the restive area. Some of the youngsters dressed up in traditional attire, representing the various ethnicities residing in Lyari. PHOTOS: AYESHA MIR/EXPRESS

Dozens of youngsters from different areas of Lyari attended the ‘Pyambar-e-Peace’ seminar on Tuesday evening. The event was organised by Karachi Youth Initiative at Lyari Youth Café where the youth heard about their elders’ struggle and efforts to restore peace in the restive area.

Ali remembered, with teary eyes, the day when his female students hugged him as explosions hit Nawa Lane where the school was located. “My students were crying. They were in shock,” he said. He was speaking about the day when the fight between two groups of Lyari – Baba Ladla and Uzair Baloch – was at its peak. “I cannot forget that day.”

Another speaker, Rehana Baloch felt that the major part of the struggle was carried out by the women. “Yes, we were dying every day,” she said emphatically. “What we realised was that we could either pick up the courage to fight or die quietly.”

For Rehana, the turning point of the struggle was the Jhat Pat Market carnage. But the struggle isn’t over yet. “Our children are still enslaved,” she asserted. “We cannot hide like cowards anymore. If we don’t raise our voice now, Lyari will never see peace again.”

Another speaker, Ramazan Baloch, who is the editor of Lyari’s local newspaper, Sada-e-Lyari, traced the history of social and political movements in the area. He was of the opinion that the situation in Lyari was much better before the arrival of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. “We became very sentimental after the arrival of the Pakistan Peoples Party in Lyari.”

Ramazan also believed that Lyari’s residents were more conscious and understood the issues they were faced with. Politics only made the situation vulnerable, he contented. “On the other hand, Bhutto gave land rights to the people of Lyari,” he admitted.

Baloch Ittehad chairperson Abid Brohi advised the youth not to forget the past. “You must learn to be tolerant,” he said. “Be respectful towards your peers and elders and try to learn from their experiences.”

Brohi recalled the peaceful days before the gangsters enforced their writ over the area. “We used to resolve all our issues at the community level,” he said.

Some of the participants felt, however, that the prevalent peace was temporary. “Will the current peace exist forever or is it temporary?” questioned a young boy to which Brohi responded with a smile: “Let’s hope for the best.”

Other participants were unsure about the peace efforts, feeling their lives were under threat because of their efforts. “We are threatened when we come out of our houses for peace demonstrations,” revealed another young man, Muzammil. “Let’s just hope for the best and stand united,” Ali interrupted with a smile.

“Is it not a miracle that we sit here today, openly discussing peace and how to counter the criminals who have ruined our lives?” one of the organisers, Dr Imran, asked of the audience.

Another organiser, Usman Khalil, said that the youth of Lyari was finally coming out of their houses to actively participate in peace efforts. “We were unaware of peace. Today, our younger generation is participating in healthy activities all over the country.”

Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th, 2014. 


Standing ovation: Lyari wins back sports fame in Sindh Assembly

KARACHI: Lyari gained its sports fame back on Tuesday when the Sindh Assembly gave a standing ovation to the street footballers on their return from Brazil.

The 10 players were given a standing ovation by members of both the treasury and the opposition benches, followed by the national anthem. The players, wearing Sindhi topis and ajraks, showed victory signs and waved to the members as they sat in the governor’s gallery. “A majority of the players belong to Lyari and its adjoining areas,” said MPA Javed Nagori proudly. “These players have not only made the country proud but have proved that the people of Lyari should not be identified with the gang war alone.” Nagori, who belongs to Lyari himself, became emotional as he urged his colleagues and the media to stop calling Lyari a ‘safe haven’ for criminals.

The football players entered the House along with Social Welfare Minister Rubina Qaimkhani and a member of Azad Foundation, an NGO, as the lawmakers hurried to congratulate them in person. Even though Tuesday was a private members’ day, the MPAs allowed the speaker to defer the agenda and dedicate the proceedings to the team. The MPAs of all parties invited the players to visit their headquarters to celebrate the victory.

There were a lot of freebies for the players as well. Senior Education Minister Nisar Khuhro announced the players will be given free education until post-graduation while Information Minister Sharjeel Memon announced Rs200,000 for each player, along with a football stadium for the team. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Khurram Sher Zaman not only announced but also gave Rs10,000 to each player.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) Syed Sardar Ahmed appreciated the efforts of the social welfare department and Azad Foundation in helping the team participate in the world cup. “Before Partition, the people of Lyari played an important role in sports and made Sindh proud,” he said.

Action against Rangers

The performance of Pakistan Rangers came under fire once again during the session, which started with speaker Agha Siraj Durrani in chair. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MPA Mir Allah Bux Talpur raised the issue of the Rangers ‘ alleged attack on his family members in the Chachro area of Tharparkar district that left two of his nephews injured. “Who has given the Rangers a licence to kill innocent people?” he asked. One of his nephews, a former union council nazim, is in critical condition and has been moved to a hospital in Karachi. According to Talpur, the Rangers accused his nephews of illegal hunting. “Who gave the Rangers the authority to kill people while they are protecting their animals? It is the job of the wildlife department.” Memon assured him that the issue will be probed and an FIR will be registered against the accused.

Better health facilities

The lawmakers also adopted a unanimous resolution to equip all government hospitals with the latest medical technologies and necessary life-saving drugs, fully equipped labs to provide basic health facilities to all the people in the province. The resolution was moved by MQM MPA Saifuddin Khalid.

“Spurious medicines and a lack of trained medical staff and equipments are major issues facing government hospitals,” pointed out Pakistan Muslim League-Functional’s Imtiaz Shaikh. He advised the government form boards at the local level to monitor the hospitals’ affairs. Memon told him the government will form committees comprising professional doctors to monitor the procurement of medicines at public hospitals.

MPA Nand Kumar also tabled a resolution to end low gas pressure in Sanghar district. “Sindh is contributing 70 per cent of the national gas production but a majority of the province is deprived of this facility,” said PPP’s Dr Sikandar Mandhro.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 9th, 2014.


Four suspected Lyari gang members killed in alleged encounters

KARACHI: Four men allegedly associated associated with Lyari gangs died early on Saturday morning in encounters with the police and paramilitary forces in separate incidents.

According to sources, three men suspected to have association with the Faisal Pathan group of Lyari, were killed in an exchange of fire with police and Rangers in Aath Chowk area of Lyari. The area falls within the remits of Kalakot Police station.

Officials claimed they had recovered radio sets, hand grenades and weapons from the three suspects. They were identified as Bilal, alias Bilawal, Abid and Akbar, alias Seti.

Separately, police apprehended a suspected member of Lyari’s Uzair Jan Baloch gang after an exchange of fire. Identified as Hussain, alias Abuzar, he was arrested during a raid at a location on Mirza Adam Khan road within the limits of Chakiwarha police station.

Hussain was injured during the raid and succumbed to his injuries as he was being shifted to a hospital.

Despite attempts, police and Rangers officials could not be reached for further comments on the alleged encounters.


A rare visit: Ayaz Latif Palijo, MPA Sania Naz pay Lyari a visit

KARACHI: After a ceasefire between the rival Baba Ladla and Uzair Baloch groups in Lyari, Ayaz Latif Palijo of the Qaumi Awami Tahreek and Sania Naz of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) visited on Friday different parts of the neighbourhood considered a stronghold of the PPP. 

The residents, especially women and children, welcomed both the leaders showering them with rose petals. Accompanied by Maulvi Abdul Majeed Sarbazi and Adnan Baloch of Lyari Ittehad Committee and some senior office bearers of elder committees of the area, they visited Bihar Colony, Aath Chowk, Lyari General Hospital and Football Ground areas. A large gathering was organised at Lyari General Hospital.

“The visit is aimed to assure the people of Lyari that they can now freely roam in the area,” said Palijo. He said there has been no untoward incident since the agreement was inked between the Baba Ladla and Uzair Baloch groups. “All no-go areas have been removed and people  are now moving from one place to another, without any fear.”

The PPP leaders may not be very happy with the fact that their MPA visited Lyari with Palijo, who is a rival of the PPP but no leader was willing to comment on it. Naz, while talking to The Express Tribune, said that the PPP would welcome every step that brings peace in the area.

“After several months, the people of Lyari have seen this peaceful environment and all the credit goes to Palijo Sahab,” she said, adding that thousands of people irrespective of their party and ethnic affiliation have welcomed them and appreciated the effort. “A few elements are still trying to hatch conspiracies against the peace agreement, but we will foil it.”

Published in The Express Tribune, March 22nd, 2014.


The other side: Lyari residents see peace talks as ‘farce’

KARACHI: The peace initiative taken by educated youth and social activists of one of the city’s most violent areas stands at a crucial juncture with the announcement of ‘peace talks’ and temporary ceasefire between the leaders of the two notorious gangs, the Uzair Baloch group and the Baba Ladla group.

Most Lyari residents consider the role of Qaumi Awami Tehreek president Ayaz Latif Palijo as arbitrator between the gangs as farce, terming him a ‘supporter’ of the gangs.  “Palijo should have thought about these peace talks before the Jhat Pat Market carnage. He should not be lending support to the criminals now,” a resident of Nawa Lane told The Express Tribune. “These talks are nothing but oxygen for the gangs who we desperately want to abolish now.”

Soon after coverage of the talks aired on different news channels, the residents started questioning about the action taken after 19 people were killed in Jhat Pat Market. “Who will trace the killers now? What about the families who lost their loved ones?”

Most of these residents, especially the families of victims of the Jhat Pat Market killings, believe that the gangsters were trying to use Palijo for protection as the law enforcement agencies and the residents have finally decided to rid the area of them.

“This was a wrong step by Palijo. He should have taken the residents of Lyari into confidence for peace, rather than speaking to the leaders of gangsters,” commented an old man sitting outside a tea stall in Nawa Lane. “We finally had the courage to start talking against these criminals, but now both groups will join hands against the common people.”

Messages condemning what was termed the ‘latest drama’ were circulated throughout the area to forewarn people against falling for the ‘farce’. “We have been suffering for the last six years. We have lost our identity and people outside Lyari consider us criminals,” a student complained. “We are trying to build a new image of Lyari but such talks will torpedo our efforts.”

“These talks will do nothing for the common man. Palijo has facilitated criminals, not the common people of Lyari,” another resident of Aath Chowk said. “Who will be responsible if these men kill anyone?” questioned a resident of Cheel Chowk.

On the other hand, Pakistan Peoples Party MPA Sania Naz, who is also part of the peace committee, believes differently. “I have been trying to make these talks happen for the last four months,” she told The Express Tribune. “We are completely against criminals,” she clarified.

When questioned about the displeasure expressed by residents regarding the peace talks, Naz asked, “How else do you propose we bring peace to Lyari?” She added that Palijo himself had approached both the groups for the peace talks.

Save Lyari Movement

Following the increasing intensity and frequent clashes between the Uzair and Ladla groups, Lyari’s youth had started an initiative of their own to bring peace to the area. The Jhat Pat Market killings had ironically proved to be a catalyst to their movement, aptly titled the ‘Save Lyari Movement’. The organisers said the movement will continue until Lyari was rid of every criminal.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 17th, 2014.


No more violence: Lyari gangs promise ceasefire as Ayaz Palijo acts arbitrator

HYDERABAD: 

The violence-weary people of Lyari have finally been afforded some hope as the Uzair Jan Baloch and Baba Ladla groups declared a ceasefire on Saturday. The groups pledged to end all hostilities and abolish no-go areas, besides a host of other measures to end violence in the area.

“Both sides have decided to stop fighting and there will no longer be any no-go areas in Lyari,” declared Sindhi nationalist leader Ayaz Palijo, who brokered the peace, at a press conference. MPA Sania Mirza, representing Uzair’s group, and Molana Abdul Majeed Sarbazi, representing Baba Ladla’s, sat by Palijo’s side as he read out the details of the agreement between the two sides to the media.

The peace talks between the two groups started over a week ago with the help of Palijo, who held a joint meeting with the two sides, during which he spoke to Uzair and Ladla over the phone. “Both of them have authorised me to lead the peace initiative for Lyari,” he claimed. “They have also approved the decisions taken in the meeting.” The representatives of both sides want an end to the bloodshed and hope to see Lyari prosper.

“Baloch was made to kill Baloch and Lyari’s peace was being destroyed for political motives under a conspiracy,” said MPA Sania Baloch, while also supporting the ongoing targeted operation in Karachi.

Sarbazi also lamented the bloodshed that the area has witnessed in recent times and said that Lyari happened to be a very peaceful area in the past.”Whenever there was a curfew in Karachi, Lyari remained unaffected by it.”

A 13-member ‘Lyari Ittehad Committee’ has been formed to uphold the promises that have been made. The committee comprises of five members each from the two sides as well as three members of Palijo’s Qaumi Awami Tehreek.

According to Palijo, the committee has been tasked with an array of responsibilities. “If there is any disagreement [between the two sides], it will  be brought before the committee for a peaceful resolution, rather than the sides resorting to violence,” said Palijo.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 16th, 2014.


Baba Ladla, Uzair Baloch gangs declare ceasefire in Lyari: QAT president

KARACHI: The Baba Ladla and Uzair Baloch gangs have declared a ceasefire in Lyari, Qaumi Awami Tehreek (QAT) president Ayaz Latif Palejo told Express News on Saturday.

Palejo said that both groups have assigned him the task of restoring peace in the area.

He said that Lyari Ittehad Committee has been formed to overlook the process of ensuring peace in the area. The committee will be headed by the QAT president.

Palejo told Express News that the decision to declare a ceasefire was made after speaking to members of both gangs over the past ten days. He also stated that both gangs have assured him that they will not take any action to disrupt peace in Lyari.

Palejo asked all political parties and the Director General Rangers to help the committee achieve peace in the area and in Karachi.


The backlash: Law enforcement agencies step in to regain control of Lyari

KARACHI: 

Five alleged criminals were killed on Friday in separate encounters between law enforcement agencies and gangsters associated with the Baba Ladla and Uzair Baloch groups in the troubled area of Lyari.

On Friday night, the police and Rangers arrested Asif Niazi and Imran Niazi from the Rangiwara area of Lyari within the remits of the Kalakot police in injured condition after an encounter. However, the two succumbed to injuries on the way to Civil hospital.

According to the police, Asif Niazi was the brother-in-law of Baba Ladla and was involved in the grenade attacks in the Jhat Pat Market as well as a number of murders and kidnappings while his accomplice Imran Niazi was also wanted in 60 different criminal cases.  According to the police, Asif Niazi was an in-charge of the Baba Ladla group and was looking after the Usmanabad area.

The police also killed alleged criminal Zohaib alias Keeper in the Jhat Pat market after an encounter within the limits of the Kalakot police station.

According to the police, the alleged criminal belonged to the Baba Ladla group and was involved in more than 50 criminal cases.

Police said that Zohaib opened fire at them during a raid that was conducted after receiving information regarding the presence of gang members in the area.

The alleged criminal died in the encounter and his body was shifted to the Civil Hospital for an autopsy. The police recovered a hand grenade and pistol from his possession.

Another encounter took place between alleged criminals and law enforcers in Lyari’s Slaughter House within the limits of the Baghdadi police station.

Resultantly, two criminals, Iqbal and Owais, were killed. The Baghdadi police station SHO Mohammad Alam said that the deceased belonged to Uzair Baloch’s group.

Meanwhile, the body of 45-year-old Esa was found on the Mehmood Shah Road in Lyari’s Lea Market within the limits of the Napier police station on Thursday night.

According to the Napier police, the deceased was a resident of the Gul Mohammad Lane and worked at the Lyari Aath Chowk shrine. Police suspect that the deceased might have been targeted for being a police informant.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 15th, 2014.


Sindh CM gives go-ahead for surgical operation in Lyari

KARACHI: 

A day after the Lyari bloodbath, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah directed the Sindh Police and Rangers to prepare a comprehensive contingency plan for conducting a surgical operation in the troubled neighbourhood of Karachi.

Rival gangs fought bloody battles in Lyari on Wednesday, leaving 19 civilians – among them 10 women and four children – dead and 50-plus wounded. Eight alleged gangsters were also killed in raids conducted by security forces.

The violence erupted when a brother of Ghaffar Zikri, the head honcho of a powerful gang allied with the Baba Ladla group, was killed in an alleged encounter with the law enforcers.

Presiding over the law and order meeting held at the CM House in the wake of the clashes, Shah said that any delay in action would cause a negative impact on the achievements of the ongoing targeted operation in the city.

“Enough is enough! The government will not tolerate the killing of innocent people,” he said. He directed the law-enforcement agencies to find out a way to fight the criminals. “Please issue the red warrants against the heads of the fighting gangs who have managed to escape abroad,” he directed the additional chief secretary and the home secretary.

After the meeting, Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon said the government was preparing a fool-proof security plan for Lyari. “The meeting also recommended closing all of the city’s entry and exit points being used by the gangsters,” he said.

Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Syed Mumtaz Shah, Sindh IG Police Iqbal Mehmood and Additional IG Karachi Shahid Hayat briefed the meeting about how the targeted operation has resulted in decreasing crime and violence, except for Lyari.

Funerals held

Lyari was gripped with tension and fear as markets, educational institutions and other workplaces remained closed on Thursday. Heavy contingents of police and Rangers patrolled the areas.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people participated in the funeral prayers of all those killed in the retaliatory violence.

FIR registered

The police have registered an FIR of the incident at the Kalakot police station against Baba Ladla and his accomplices. Case No. 97/2014 was registered on behalf of state with sections of the Pakistan Penal Code, the Anti-Terrorism Act and the Explosives Act.

According to Sub Inspector Malik Riaz, the police records show that 13 people were killed, which is half of the media-reported death toll of 26.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 14th, 2014.


‘All we want is peace’: Lyari residents hold govt responsible for bloodshed

KARACHI: 

Lyari residents are holding the provincial and federal governments responsible for the Jhat Pat Market killings and the never-ending violence in the area.

They claimed that gangsters are being patronised by the government and law enforcement agencies. Hundreds of residents staged a protest outside the Karachi Press Club on Thursday, without their public representatives, who they also blamed for Wednesday’s carnage that claimed the lives of at least 19 ‘innocent’ people.

The residents, carrying banners and placards, raised slogans for peace and justice, stressing that not everyone in Lyari was affiliated with the gangs. “Where is the chief minister? Where is the Governor? Is there anyone to hear our cries? Isn’t Lyari a part of Karachi too?” demanded one of the protesters.

The majority of participants were young, and of the belief that their future was being destroyed due to the constant violence. “It is the responsibility of the government to provide security to citizens. Our leaders are silent and have not even joined us today,” said an aged woman, Saeeda Baloch, a resident of Kalakot. “We supported the Pakistan Peoples Party and they gave us the dead bodies of our sons and daughters in return.”

Saeeda claimed that the gangsters had ordered the residents of Lyari to leave their houses. “Where should we go?”

Another elderly woman claimed that everyone knew who was behind the unrest, alleging that the government supported the criminals who held common people hostage. “Our sons are not born to be killed so mercilessly.”

Another protester appealed to Malik Riaz Hussain to allot plots for the residents of Lyari so they could escape the violence. The participants had brought dozens of keys of houses and shops and informed the media that several families had left the area while others were desperately looking for an escape.

“The government, police, Rangers and media know who is behind the gang war,” screamed a young girl. “All we ask for is peace and justice.” She burst into tears, saying she couldn’t even attend school while her father and brothers risked their lives every day.

“Twenty innocent people lost their lives but not a single assailant has been apprehended yet. What kinds of measures have been taken in the last 24 hours?” asked one the participants, Abdul Wahid.

Innocence lost

Hira and Asifa, along with their cousin, Maryam, were shopping when a hand grenade hit them, killing all three on the spot. “One of the sisters was selecting a pair of sandals while the other was trying out bangles,” their uncle, Abdul Qadir, who joined the protest, told The Express Tribune. “They had been ecstatic at the prospect of their sister’s wedding next week,” he recalled.

Qadir said that the girls’ father, Abdul Wahid, was a diehard supporter of the PPP. “Asifa’s name is an example of his attachment with the party. The difference between the age of Benazir Bhutto’s daughter and my brother’s daughter is only a few months.”

Qadir said that the children of Lyari had lost their senses due to the continuous violence in the area. “What was the crime of six-year-old Maryam? She was so cute. We cannot ever forget her innocent smile,” he wept.

An organiser who had circulated text messages about the protest said that the majority of participants had never attended such protests. “We are against criminals and do not support any group,” he claimed, without sharing his name. “The educated and socially-active youngsters want peace in Lyari.”

Published in The Express Tribune, March 14th, 2014.