Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari rolled into Lyari on Sunday thinking he would be welcomed like Benazir’s son. And indeed some party workers had rose garlands ready but so were the sticks and stones that came hurtling through the air as his vehicle was attacked.
It was a PR disaster that could have been averted had the PPP taken the temperature on the ground: People have been angry with the PPP ever since gangster Uzair Baloch was in power. This is why: Lyari was once controlled by the PPP’s Nabeel Gabol. But the PPP abandoned him for gangster Uzair Baloch and his Aman Committee when his reign of terror started to spread in Lyari.
Everybody remembers how the PPP’s Zulfiqar Mirza had endorsed the Aman Committee members, calling them his “children”.
The PPP backing for Uzair was such that when he demanded tickets for his supporters in previous elections they granted them.
This left Gabol high and dry and after being sidelined multiple times by the PPP, he left the PPP and joined the MQM. Gabol then moved his base to Lyari's Hingorabad and Agra Taj colony where the Kutchis live. (Lyari has Kutchi and Baloch ethno-linguistic groups). These two neighbourhoods are where the PPP lost power and the MQM snuck in to dominate.
To make matters worse the Kutchi national movement was formed against the Baloch Aman Committee. Violence broke out and hundreds of young people were killed as Lyari was walled off into no-go areas restricting movement.
Over the past few years, the Aman committee was dissolved, Uzair Baloch was arrested and Nabeel Gabol joined the PPP again. However, the people of Hingorabad and Agra Taj colony have not forgotten and the attack on Sunday demonstrated that.
The PPP has accused MQM's former naib nazim and candidate for PS-107, Rafiq Hingora, of being behind the attack. But the fact is that Bilawal faced protests in other parts of of Lyari as well. Only problem is, it would be a worse PR disaster to avoid the area as well. It has to be seen in Lyari.