KARACHI: A day after the federal government accused the Sindh government of “tampering” the joint investigation team (JIT) report on Lyari ganglord Uzair Jan Baloch, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Wednesday said Minister for Shipping and Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi “acted irresponsibly” in doing so.
Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi had presented what he said was the “original” JIT report on Baloch, which according to him accused the top leadership of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), including its co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari, of having been in contact and patronising the gangster.
Speaking to reporters outside the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) office in Islamabad after being questioned by the anti-graft agency, Shah questioned how the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) minister had obtained the purportedly “original” JIT report.
“I think he revealed someone came to his house on a motorcycle and gave him that report. If he had said that some responsible man gave it to him and now he was revealing it, it might have made sense. But this was not appropriate for a man who is a member of the National Assembly and a sensible person.”
Zaidi had said that the JIT comprised six members — one person each from the Special Branch and the Crime Investigation Department, from the Sindh government, as well as officials from the Intelligence Bureau, Rangers, Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence, from the federal government.
He claimed, however, that the two members from Sindh had not signed what he called was the original report, which he said included findings that Baloch was working at the behest of senior PPP leaders.
Responding to the claim, Shah clarified that the JIT had seven members and not six, adding that the report submitted to the Sindh home department had all seven signatures. He further said that this was the same JIT report that was “submitted to the Sindh High Court (SHC) in a sealed envelope, read by the honourable judges and then returned to the provincial government”.
Shah further said JIT reports in “several forms were being circulated [on social media]” and since there is “no official seal” that is used for these documents, it might have confused many people.
Responding to a question, the chief minister said the provincial government’s legal department had advised them against making the reports public.
“We were under political pressure. It was in the courts. I talked to the attorney general and told him we would have to make these reports public because we were under political pressure.”
Shah pointed out that the report Zaidi presented to the media mentioned one of the six members belonging to the Crime Investigation Department (CID) which had been renamed to the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) in 2015.
“I don’t know where he creates [these reports] from. I believe he is in some way trying to give favours to suspects [named in the JIT],” Shah claimed. “He acted very irresponsibly in a very important matter.”
“A person comes and gives it [to him] on motorcycle and [Zaidi] waves it in the National Assembly the next day. You saw how he could not defend himself in a program yesterday. If he had told us before [how he obtained the report] then we might not have released it but laughed instead.”
Responding to a question, Shah said that it was up to the federal government to decide whether an inquiry would be conducted into the matter. He added that if Zaidi had harmed the case against Baloch, proceedings would be conducted according to the law.
He said that the claims made by Zaidi had not damaged the [reputation of] PPP.
“They made an attempt to malign [the PPP]. They showed pictures and videos of Baloch and his accomplices saying they were going to join the PPP.
“PPP is a democratic party, [former president] Zia tried to destroy it, he couldn’t. Musharraf tried to destroy it, he couldn’t. What can these people do,” he asked.