Zafar Baloch could not be lucky for a third time. He had survived previous two attacks on his life and defiantly roamed the streets of Lyari with iron support on one of his legs and crutches in his hands.
Mr Baloch, 46, was a diehard Pakistan Peoples Party activist. “When I became able to understand the world, I saw my parents as staunch PPP supporters and I followed them avidly,” he used to say. He had been a least known PPP activist until the last decade, holding low-key party posts in Lyari.
He first won a councillor’s seat [UC-11) in Lyari Town in the first local government election under Pervez Musharraf’s rule. He retained the post in the next LB elections.
A loyal activist of the PPP, he had good terms with its local MNA and MPAs till his relations went sour with them for, what he alleged, constant neglect of Lyari by the party’s members in the national and provincial legislatures. He remained a local party leader but joined the People’s Amn Committee (PAC) when it was formed in 2008 with Abdul Rehman Baloch aka Rehman Dakait as its head.
When they formed the PAC, it had been declared that it was not a separate political party and in fact was a group striving for rights of Lyari. Mr Baloch said he joined it for the betterment of the area.
“The PAC did excellent social work, which you can see in just a year’s performance,” he had said in an interview.
The PAC’s leadership had been handed over to Uzair Jan Baloch, after Rehman Baloch was killed in an alleged encounter in 2009. Mr Baloch later became the PPP Karachi South’s general secretary, and he resigned the post for his differences with party MNA Nabil Gabol and provincial minister Rafiq Engineer. Mr Gabol is now an MQM leader and Mr Engineer died a few months ago. Mr Baloch survived the first gun attack when he was sitting with some of his comrades near his home. The second attack in August 2011 was more lethal when attackers hurled a grenade at him near his home in Gul Mohammad Lane. He was severely wounded but survived. One of his legs took around two years to heal. It was the third attack that he could not escape.
He was the number two in the group, variously called the Karachi City Alliance and the Lyari Amn Committee, after Uzair Baloch. Zafar Baloch was an acceptable political face of his group who had been a bridge in difficult times between the ruling PPP and the rest of his colleagues. With his death, many believe Lyari’s dominant group and the PPP may further drift apart.