The announcement of the arrest of Uzair Baloch by the Rangers on Saturday raised another deluge of questions with regards to the Karachi operation and its progress so far. Arrested by Interpol in Dubai in December 2014, he disappeared after March 2015 when the Sindh government sent a police team to UAE to extradite the notorious leader of the Peoples Amn Committee (PAC). While the Rangers claim that Baloch was arrested early Saturday morning while attempting to make his way back into Karachi, conflicting reports of him being in custody for over three months have also surfaced.

Uzair Baloch has a lot of dirt on various PPP leaders, and he has already used this information to spare himself from aggressive interrogation at the hands of the Rangers. PPP has been distancing itself from Baloch and the gangs of Lyari since 2012 after the failed operation, but some stains are very hard to wash out. State patronage for extortion and target killings cannot be forgotten. Indeed, there are reports that PPP’s Dr Asim Hussain treated members from Uzair’s gang at his hospitals, which is one of the reasons why he has been placed under arrest.

If the revelation made by Lyari gangsters – arrested only four days ago – is to be believed, Uzair Baloch and the gangs of Lyari did not only limit themselves to taking control of Karachi. With funds provided to the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and the induction of over 150 members selected to exert influence in the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF), greater plans were being made to expand beyond the metropolis.

However, the pieces fit too well together, and the investigators should be careful with their accusations going forward. It would be altogether too convenient if separatist groups in Balochistan are being supported by gangs in Lyari who in their turn, were being supported by political parties in Karachi to fund separatist groups. This line of questioning must be avoided, and indeed Uzair Baloch’s name itself is an indication of why his group would fund the separatist movement in Balochistan. Karachi’s crime scenario has inextricable links that connect more than just the gun-toting gang members with each other. The city’s police, politicians and its citizens are all caught in the quagmire, with those at the top often involved in the crime sprees of the city. Whether this is through looking the other way and offering tacit support, or picking up a gun and wresting control of the city, it must be stopped. The arrest of leaders such as Uzair Baloch sends a very strong message, and slowly, the people of Karachi may come to accept that crime will not be acceptable any longer.