Here’s a summary update of Law & Order situation in Karachi, from a citizen’s perspective.
Cause of mismanagement:
Karachi has an age old problem of lack of empowerment. It never had any voice in the power corridors, even if its citizen vote 100% to any party. That is a fundamental flaw in the system of governance in place in Pakistan. Take an example of operation in Karachi. Federal govt. through Ministry of Interior, recommends operation in Karachi, in Sept 2013. Sindh govt approves special powers to Rangers and Armed Forces assigns head of Rangers (Sindh) to carry out the operation. No where, the elected representatives of Karachi’s opinion taken into consideration, let alone their powers to approve or disapprove it. The democratic countries of the world had evolved decades ago, empowering people to make decisions about their day-to-day matters autonomously.
Due to the hold of rich (industrialists) and powerful (landlords) on the power corridors (commonly known as feudalism in Pakistan), we are still using archaic system of central government.
Where most of the authority on resources to run administration of the cities, remains in the control of central (here we call Federal) government. It does have a ‘federal’ title, but the authority majorly is not devolved down to the localities. This had serious repercussion on the government performance, creating imbalance of power and sense of deprivation. Karachi being significant, in terms of both population and its economic contribution, had noticed serious incompetency from provincial and federal level and imbalance of resource distribution, resulting in distrust and lack of ownership, which lead to disorder, to an otherwise extremely vibrant city. It did grew exponentially nevertheless, by accommodating all ethnicities from across Pakistan, making it country’s most diverse city. One of the factors of growth, despite government’s willful neglect, is that Pakistanis have innate survival instinct, who finds a way to live under minimal of resources.
Authority on Karachi’s resources, are largely shared between Federal govt and Provincial govt., where the elected representatives of Karachi has minority say, thus non-empowerment in the matters of their respective constituencies.
Take an example of electricity, where KE is begging for continuation of 650 mega watt of supply from national grid, and all (Federal and provincial members) but representatives from Karachi are making the decision on the fate of electricity for Karachi, who are the ones suffering from it, day-in and day-out, and the ones making the decision (in the center) has no clue, what are the resulting problems on ground. Take eg Crime in Karachi, which is the topic of this post, where lack of govt interest and the resulting incompetency of Sindh Police, created an uncontrollable problem of crime and later terrorists finds Karachi a safe heaven. What we are seeing today, is the outcome of 4-5 decades of government neglect in the area of Law & Order, through LEA (Law Enforcement Agencies).
Rangers had been in Karachi with different powers, for over 2 decades, through special provision of law (amendment to the constitutional). They report to Army (corps commander in GHQ) and gets approval and funding from Sindh Govt. and takes direction from Ministry of Interior (Federal). Rangers have launched operation in Karachi under the auspices of Nawaz Sharif direction and Raheel Shareef authority (background), since the past 2 years. This is following the army’s resolve in eliminating terrorists in northern areas. They managed to find terrorists (826) and huge repositories of weapons (7312) and overpowered many hideouts, which resulted in reduced acts of terrorism in the city – bomb blasts, mass murders, abductions, ransom, etc. I won’t say Rangers operation in Karachi is wrong altogether. Rangers core job is to protect borders (international) from terrorists.
It’s their job which they were supposed to do on a regular basis, for the past 27 years, that’s what they’re paid for (Rs. 1.4 billion/year/2013), which they were negligent/incompetent at frankly, remember bus shooting, attack at the airport, PNS attack, numerous bomb blasts, etc.
Now doing it as a special operation (and portraying it as some kind of ‘ahsaan’ – service), when the city is destroyed/infested with terrorists from around the world, is a service too late, costing thousands of innocent lives in Karachi already. Further, their unbiased operation, turning blind eye towards PPP and other political criminals, while sparing no stone unturned against MQM workers is objectionable, specially the disappearances and extra-judicial killings (called as encounters), some 300+ instances of encounters since Jan 2015 alone. MQM claimed 50 of their political workers are missing, probably dead. According to another news report (again without details):
Rangers claimed to have killed 364 so-called ‘criminals’ and arrested 200 others in the encounters. Rangers has conducted some 5,795 operations and apprehended 10,353 suspects that ranged from street criminals to terrorists.
If they are foreign terrorists and out of control, killing the in encounters can be acceptable (exceptionally), but killing known MQM workers without trial is unacceptable, specially looking at the level of competence and intelligence of our LEAs and their masters. Extra-judicial killings have severe repercussions. Would make hero out of MQM again, as all except MQM had been ignored. Such extra-judicial killings if challenged in the court of law, could bring severe trouble to the LEA leadership responsible in this misadventure. Further, the return of MQM (haqiqi) leaders in Karachi and erupting clashes between MQM and MQM (H) workers, does not speak good about the intentions of Army/Rangers here.
There couldn’t have been bigger embarrassment for Rangers, but during their raid at nine zero, finding nothing substantial, that was always hyped. Following news media, even I started to believe that nine zero is some kind of no-go area, where there is a secret army with truck loads of artillery and sophisticated weapons, that could over power armed forces. Remember, how many Rangers contingent were deployed during that raid ? But it turned out to be a measly amount of weapons, many of which were said to be licensed and the abducted people (without warrant), have to be eventually released (again embarrassingly), due to lack of evidence. It again proved their incompetency and lack of intelligence, to solve the issues of city. If they are not smart enough to reprimand criminals and convict them to justice (following the law of the land), they shouldn’t indulge in operations in the first place. Obviously, that’s what they’re not skilled in, as they don’t have civic sense or demographic intelligence or criminal investigation skills. They have combat skills to kill the enemy at the border, so they did kill some terrorists, albeit without warrant and extra-judicially, so effectively nobody knows, who they killed. Further, Karachi is not a war zone, where the constitution has been suspended, so you can kill people at sight, without trial. Lastly, except just MQM HQ, all actually (dreadful) no-go areas should be cleansed from illegal weapons and criminals.
Nobody can think about going into ‘kati pahari’, ‘layari’ or ‘sohrab goth’ today, like they can ‘nine zero’ now. These kinds of acts, created doubts in the minds of residents of Karachi, about the intent of the government to enforce peace.
Regarding govt. interest to enforce peace in Karachi, we’ve to ponder on what are the root causes of crime generally. Crime in Karachi depends on many factors:
- Incompetent bureaucracy hired on quota system,
- Same is true for police (major factor),
- Lack of border control (inflow of terrorists),
- Easy availability and affordable weapons,
- Gangs/mafia (eg land, drugs, beggars, tankers, political parties, etc.),
- Extreme economic disparity, extreme poverty and disrespect (social injustice among indigenous and immigrants),
- Significant unemployment,
- Education rate (high illiteracy),
- Illegal/’kachi abadi’ (safe heavens for terrorists and criminals alike), c
- Corrupt judicial system (lower courts),
These are the root causes of crime in Karachi. If anyone is sincere, they will address these issues. But since the intent is not to bring peace and prosperity in Karachi, none of these aspects are even talked about, let alone addressed. One institution created to control crime in any city, that’s police.
Since, Sindh Police is based on quota, just like rest of the govt. bodies and similar institutions, which makes them incompetent, highly uneducated, unskilled, underpaid and underpowered, there’s no way to achieve sustainable peace in Karachi.
Nobody has ever talked about reforming Sindh Police, so this also confirms the lack of intent of Sindh govt. to establish peace in the city. Nothing obviously goes without being noticed by Sindh Police in Karachi, so everyone knows, they’ve cut in virtually every crime, eg beggary, encroachments, land mafia, transport mafia, etc. Naturally, the operation did not help with the crime. All actions (conducted by rangers) will naturally be fruitless for the average citizen, as it can be noticed on ‘Halaat Updates’ facebook forum, for the past 1 year. I’ve written another piece on the reasons of L&O woes in Karachi here.
Problems cannot be solved through force, it’s proven in the history. Problems are solved, when you resolve it’s root cause. When all the causes remain, which I enlisted above, specially the incompetent police, you simply cannot reduce crime.
First party responsible for everything about Karachi is obviously MQM, since they won 95% of the seats from Karachi (19 out of 20 MNA seats in 2013). But, like I said before, they aren’t empowered enough. They are as powerless as ever. Prime example of their lack of authority is this operation itself, where they can’t stop Rangers from killing their workers extra-judicially in Karachi. Note, Sindh Govt can call off Rangers policing authority in Karachi, btw.
Zardari said to have strike a deal with the establishment, which resulted in PPP (through Sindh Govt), recently extending policing powers to Rangers, which were to expire in June 2015 (the power for this operation).
It’s been more than 60 years, since the independence of Pakistan, it’s about time, the mandate of Karachi be accepted. There’s no way this discriminate accountability of MQM alone will be accepted by the people, while every criminal leader in the govt., and their gang of absconders and their political parties are in full power (with 10 times bigger share in the govt. than MQM), with no remorse whatsoever or respect for the writ of Pakistan or mandate of the citizens. When from nobody like Ayyan Ali, to terrorist like Uzair Baloch (sought by Interpol), Tappi, Baba Ladla are spared and statements of Zulfiqar Mirza and AAZ against Pakistan and Army are ignored, Lahore police brutality never brought to justice, sold-out judges goes free making false judgements about election fraud, no one held accountable for Karachi airport attack, or APC attack, etc. just to name a few, are all instance of the high-handedness of the present govt, but since they were in connivance with the people in the power corridor, govt is silent about them. This is simply a double standard of government. With complete injustice in the country, nobody has any moral right to question MQM to become pious. Let’s accept the mandate of MQM, given by the votes of citizens of Karachi.
What should we Do about it ?
Empower citizens of Karachi to be able to make decision on their living – police, water, electricity, infrastructure, all aspects of govt, autonomously. There’s no dearth of intelligence and skills in Karachi, see the private sector. It’s just a matter of upholding merit in government, so that people in Karachi stop abhorring government jobs and take part in serving the nation.
Today, they either leave the country for good, or mind their own business (as furthest away from govt. as possible).
So, we need to correct the system, without which nothing can be resolved, let alone such a complex problem as crime. Empower police, hire on merit (education, skills), pay sufficiently (like we pay to Rangers), bring them to enough numbers that is proportionate to the population of Karachi (being the second biggest city of the world) and see how crime goes down automatically. Above all, accept MQM’s mandate in Karachi. Let’s voice for the equal rights for every citizen.