KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) – Pakistani security forces on Saturday arrested one of the country’s most-wanted crime lords on the outskirts of Karachi, officials have said.
Following his arrest, Uzair Baloch, the notorious head of a crime cartel locally known as the “Lyari gang”, was handed over to the authorities on a 90-day remand by an anti-terrorist court in Karachi.
A spokesman for Pakistan’s Rangers, the paramilitary force that reportedly arrested Baloch, said the gangster had been wanted in connection with 55 cases of murder, drug trafficking, extortion, armed attacks on security forces, and other alleged offenses.
Baloch fled the country in 2013 following a wide-ranging operation against organized crime in the country’s commercial capital.
Karachi police sources, however, claim Baloch had already been in police custody for more than a year.
In 2014, Pakistan’s consulate in Dubai confirmed that Baloch had been arrested by United Arab Emirates police while entering the country from Oman.
He was later handed over to a Pakistani police team, Pakistani English-language daily Dawn had reported at the time.
The Rangers, meanwhile, have launched an inquiry into several leaders of the opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), which governs the southern Sindh province, who are accused of having links to Baloch.
Once the political face of the PPP in its stronghold in Karachi’s town of Lyari, Baloch — in a video aired on local television — has accused certain party leaders of having been involved in some of his criminal activities.
It remains unclear, however, who provided the channels with the video.
The PPP, for its part, which has previously ruled the country for four terms, has denied any links to Baloch, who at one point headed up the outlawed “People’s Peace Committee”, which has been blamed for criminal activities ranging from murder and extortion to drug trafficking.
“Uzair Baloch has no association whatsoever with the PPP,” Maula Bhakhs Chandio, a senior PPP leader and spokesman for the Sindh government, told reporters.
“We still do not know where and when he [Baloch] was arrested. His arrest has been shown all of a sudden,” Chandio said, casting doubts on the Rangers’ account of events.
“We are not afraid of his [Baloch’s] arrest. We have faced fabricated cases in the past; we will not be cowed by them,” the spokesman added.
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