KARACHI              -       Uzair Jan Baloch, chief of the outlawed Peoples Amn Committee (PAC), informed an anti terrorism court (ATC) in Karachi on Saturday that he was being “persecuted” due to his affiliation with the PPP and being asked to join the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).

The alleged Lyari gang warfare kingpin made this revelation before the ATC-VIII judge, who was conducting trial in different criminal cases against Baloch and others. Baloch, chief of the defunct PAC, faces around 60 cases including those related to murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, extortion and terrorism before different ATCs.

In April, he was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment by a military court on the charges of spying for foreign intelligence agencies. On Saturday, several different cases came up before the ATC-VIII judge when Baloch was produced from the Mitha Ram sub-jail amid tight security of police and Rangers.

Baloch complained about being denied basic facilities which should be allowed to him as per the jail manual at the detention facility maintained by the Rangers in the Mitha Ram Hostel, and said that he was being subjected to “mental torture” in custody, his defence counsel Abid Zaman told media. The alleged gangster further disclosed that he was being persecuted due to his affiliation with the PPP and was being asked to join the PTI, the counsel added. According to the counsel, Baloch verbally requested the judge to order that his custody be shifted from the Mitha Ram sub-jail to the Central Prison Karachi.

However, the judge directed the accused to submit a written application regarding his purported maltreatment at the Rangers’ detention facility and transfer to the central prison at the next hearing. The judge adjourned the hearing of two cases until September 21 and of five others until Sept 22.

In January 2016, Rangers had announced Baloch’s arrest in a raid on the outskirts of Karachi and a joint investigation team was formed to interrogate him. Later, his custody was taken over by the Pakistan Army from the central prison for his trial on charges of spying for foreign intelligence agencies.

In June, the Sindh home department had shifted Baloch from the central prison to the Mitha Ram hostel reportedly due to security reasons after a military court sentenced him for spying for foreign countries.

Last month, an antiterrorism court had indicted the alleged Lyari kingpin in the high-profile 2013 triple murder case of his alleged rival Arshad Pappu, his brother Yasir Arafat and an aide Jumma Shera.