Unearthing the spoils of politics

In the wake of the recent arrest of a notorious criminal in Karachi, questions are being raised by the nation as to why crime is sanctioned by the rulers. The news got significant national and international media coverage owing to the fact that criminals in our land have strong affiliations with political parties and further their party cause by their heinous activities.

The arrest of Hammad Siddiqui was made in Dubai with the help of Interpol. Siddiqui was considered the lynchpin in the Ali Enterprise factory blaze in September 2012; also known as Baldia Factory fire in Karachi. As many as 259 factory workers had lost their lives after being trapped inside the building.

Hammad had given the go-ahead for this mass murder.

The arrests of Rehman Bhola and Zubair Charya, in the previous year, pointed to Hammad, striking the last nail in his arrest. They revealed that the Baldia factory fire did not occur due to the proprietor’s negligence, as stated in the earlier investigation and claimed that Hammad had demanded extortion money of Rs250 million and upon the refusal of the owners the abomination was carried out.

Uzair Baloch’s arrest tells a story of the darkest designs for power in a metropolis. Just as in any crime thriller, Uzair, a powerful master of Karachi underworld, was embraced by the political elites and received protection from the police. Ironically, as his arrest drew near the very party, erstwhile supporting his longevity, disowned him and his party membership completely. Fearing an attempt on his life, he requested to be moved from police custody to that of the Sindh Rangers.

How can individuals become criminals, murderers and extortionists? In his college days, Hammad was a member of All Pakistan Muttahida Students’ Organisation, APMSO. Soon he became a member of Muttahida Qaumi Movement, MQM, and later joined its Tanzeemi Committee. Hammad became the longest serving chief of the Committee, from 2008 to 2013, when he was thrown out from the party upon allegations of misuse of power. Hammad’s mandate as chief was to strengthen and spread MQM’s controls through all possible means.

Uzair however was a part of a gang in 2003 and upon incarceration took charge of Pakistan People’s Party’s, PPP, political prisoners with the blessings of a political figurehead. Later when his gang leader was killed, Uzair reorganized his group, ‘People’s Aman Committee,’ PAC. In his confession Uzair named PPP notables and police personnel as close friends who got a share of his spoils.

While the arrests are welcomed nationwide the concern arises that the parties that harboured these criminals cannot absolve themselves after these arrests. The political parties are as much answerable for embracing criminals and killers as the criminals  themselves.

Another fear is that the criminals, who never get punished in crime thrillers, can make deals with the powerful and get away. MQM, weary of Hammad, is already talking about his hand in the making of Pak Sarzameen Party, PSP, and think that he will get a clean chit. Unfortunately, Pakistan has had a dismal record of penalizing the wrongdoers.

This time around, if Pakistan has to make a fresh start at governance, we should do things right and expunge all shady characters from politics including those politicians, who once had the blessings of the powermongers and are now comfortably perched in their mansions in foreign lands. In Henry Kissinger’s words, it is 90 per cent of the politicians that give the other 10 per cent a bad reputation.

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