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Rumblings of Nisar Baloch’s murder echo in session By By Ahmed Yusuf

Members of the opposition in the City Council rallied on Monday around the issue of the assassination of social activist Nisar Baloch, claiming that the “land mafia,” backed by the city government, was involved in killing him. Baloch was murdered in broad daylight on November 7.


Monday’s session merely lasted for about 20 minutes or so, but was disrupted after the treasury and opposition could not agree over which matter was of greater importance: the assassination of Nisar Baloch, or a notification issued by the Sindh government which ordered doing away with the post of union council secretary altogether.

City Council Convenor (and City Naib-Nazim) Nasreen Jalil had promised Jumman Darwan, acting leader of the opposition, and a member of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)-backed Awam Dost panel, that he would be allowed to speak on the matter of Baloch’s murder. She forbade any debate on the matter, however, simply allowing certain members to express their viewpoints. Treasury member Abdul Jalil then raised the issue of the Sindh government’s notification on the following point of order, after which the opposition started protesting fervently. Ultimately, the convenor adjourned the session till noon on Tuesday.

Opposition members then held a press conference in their chamber, with leaders of all three opposition parties – Rafiq Ahmed (Al-Khidmat), Jumman Darwan (Awam Dost), and Dr Zia-ud-Din (Khidmatgar) – slamming the city government over its alleged involvement in land encroachment, abetting the land mafia, and in the assassination of Nisar Baloch.

Rafiq Ahmed said that Baloch was very active against the land mafia, and was working towards the protection of the Gutter Bagheecha from the land mafia. He said that a day before his assassination, Baloch had conducted a press conference where he had urged the city and the provincial governments to get the large tract of land vacated from the land mafia. He said that unfortunately, neither the city nor the provincial government could ensure the protection of lives and property.

Darwan said that the issue of Baloch’s assassination was larger than any agenda, because Nisar Baloch was single-handedly responsible for standing up to the land mafia. He said that Sindhis had built and protected Gutter Bagheecha even before the creation of Pakistan.

The privilege to allot leasing rights should be taken back from the city Nazim, Darwan maintained. He claimed that the Sindh government was taking the matter very seriously, and was even conducting an enquiry, as both the president and prime minister had issued directions in this regard.

Dr Zia-ud-Din said that Baloch’s role in protecting amenity plots was critical, adding that town planning in SITE was not conducted by the city government but instead by a town officer.

The opposition leaders said that the combined opposition would move a resolution to not only condemn the murder, but also to request the Sindh government to conduct a judicial enquiry under a judge of the Sindh High Court (SHC). The leaders alleged that land was being encroached at the behest of the city government; encroachers were being provided with a legal cover through resolutions passed in the City Council.

Meanwhile, a leader of the opposition told The News on condition of anonymity that the PPP was under public pressure to resolve a number of issues, and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) needed to understand these constraints of the provincial and federal governments. In such a situation, Baloch’s murder raised a number of questions, but the PPP did not want their coalition partners or the city Nazim to get wrongly indicted. Hence, it was imperative for the MQM to participate in dialogue and clarify its position, he said.

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