ISLAMABAD: Wanted for his alleged role in several terrorist activities across Sindh, Shafi Burfat, the fugitive chief of the Jeay Sindh Muttahida Muhaz (JSMM) who is also the moving spirit behind the Sindhudesh Liberation Army (SLA), is now well beyond the reach of the Pakistani agencies, having already fled to Afghanistan and established his control centre in Kabul.
Well-placed officials in security agencies which are investigating the November 9, 2012 bomb attacks targeting the houses of six PPP leaders in different towns of Sindh, have concluded that the attacks were carried out by the Sindhudesh Liberation Army under instructions from Shafi Burfat, one of the most wanted terrorists, being sought by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Sindh for years. Burfat carries head money of Rs5 million.
Although the pamphlets left behind by saboteurs at several sites of low-intensity bomb explosions, were signed by Dilawar Khan, the investigating agencies say Burfat had ordered these attacks from his control centre in Kabul. They also claim that the Burfat-led JSSM and SLA were being funded by the Indian Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) which has a heavy presence in Afghanistan and which also funds some of the Baloch separatist groups.
According to the information collected by the Pakistani security agencies, besides using satellite phones and email to communicate with his JSSM and SLA operators in Sindh, the renegade Sindhi nationalist-turned-militant boss openly uses Face Book and Twitter to spread his message. Burfat’s Face Book account introduces himself as “a Guevarian leader who struggles for the freedom of Sindhudesh from the occupation of Pakistan.” In his latest tweet on October 10, 2012, Burfat refers to the previous independent status of Sindh which had a liberal society and asks as to how the state of Pakistan can support the current war against terror when its own foundation is laid on religious fanaticism. “We are ready to be burnt alive and die fighting but we would neither surrender nor abandon our goal of freedom”, he tweets.
In another tweet, Shafi Burfat claims to be leading a non-violent political movement for the liberation of Sindh through peaceful means.
While refuting his followers’ involvement in some recent acts of violence and terrorism in various parts of Sindh, Shafi Burfat accuses the state agencies of involvement in the disappearance and killings of dozens of the JSSM workers and leaders in recent years. While accusing the state agencies of killing the JSSM secretary general Muzaffar Bhutto, Burfat tweets that the growing atrocities of the state agencies against Sindhi nationalists would plunge Sindh into Balochistan-style mayhem. The bullet-riddled body of Bhutto, who was one of Burfat’s most-trusted men, was recovered from Hyderabad on May 22, 2012, almost 15 months after his February 23, 2011 abduction. Although such incidents are common in Balochistan, Bhutto’s case was the first one in Sindh in which a missing nationalist leader’s bullet-riddled body was found. Following his abduction, Saima Muzaffar, wife of Muzaffar Bhutto, told Asma Jahangir, the chairperson of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), that her husband might be murdered by the agencies in captivity. In a May 23, 2012 press release, the HRCP had described Muzaffar Bhutto as one of the many victims of enforced disappearance by the state agencies in Sindh. “The abduction and subsequent murder of nationalist leader Muzaffar Bhutto is the latest manifestations of violent suppression of political debate. The Pakistan government must ensure that the state agencies are reined in and dissent and struggle for political rights are not countered by violence or strong-arm tactics”, the HRCP statement added.
On May 25, 2012, two days after Muzaffar’s dead body was found, the Sindhudesh Liberation Army, the military wing of the Jeay Sindh Muttahida Muhaz, claimed responsibility for the gruesome killing of seven passengers of a Kohat-bound bus that was sprayed with bullets by masked gunmen of the SLA on the National Highway near Nawabshah, the hometown of President Asif Ali Zardari. Likewise, the SLA also conducted a series of 16 low-intensity blasts targeting the railway tracks in Sindh and suspending train traffic on February 25, 2011.
Following Muzaffar Bhutto’s killing, Burfat had written a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon, asking him to take notice of the growing human rights violations against the people of Sindh. He had alleged in his letter that many of the JSSM workers remain missing like the nationalists of Balochistan; they are kept incommunicado and never produced in courts.
However, well-placed officials of security agencies have strongly refuted allegations of involvement in the abductions and killings of the JSSM activists. “Shafi Burfat, who himself is a fugitive from the law, is only trying to tarnish the image of the Pakistani security agencies at the behest of his foreign masters who fund him and pull his strings to carry forward their anti-Pakistan agenda”, a senior security official added.