A safer Karachi

January 10, 2017

Syed Muraf Ali Shah, the Chief Minister Sindh recently expressed his apprehensions regarding the lack of implementation on certain parts of the National Action Plan (NAP) by the federal government. The Sindh Chief Minister has merely said what others have been saying for long, the federal government apart from implementing certain parts of the ‘plan’ has completely failed in implementation of a number of others. This has been pointed time and again but the government for some reasons seems reluctant to implement the plan. The criticism on the non implementation of the National Action Plan was backed by the Quetta commission report. As far as the situation of Sindh and particularly Karachi goes, the Sindh government has often expressed doubts at the ongoing Rangers operation in the province. The facts are that since the Rangers started the operation in Karachi, things have improved tremendously. Just three years ago, according to the Numbeo international crime index, Karachi was the sixth most dangerous city in the world. Today it stands at number 31. Some of the key stats of the operation are impressive to say the least. In 2013 there were 2,789 killings in Karachi. In the first 11 months of 2016 there were 592. In 2013 there were 51 terrorist bomb blasts. Up to late November this year, there were two. Three years ago, Karachi suffered from an orgy of kidnapping for ransom. There were 78 cases in 2013, rising to 110 the following year. This year, there have been 19. Some 533 extortion cases were reported in 2013; in 2016, only 133. Sectarian killing is sharply down: while 38 members of the Shia minority were killed in 2013, that figure was down by two thirds in 2016. Despite doubts expressed by some Pakistan Peoples Party leaders regarding the operation the Chief Minister Sindh dispelled the notion that the operation is being slowed down. Murad has claimed that he was expanding the scope of the Rangers operation to other serious crimes such as street crime, drug mafia, land mafia etc.  However despite the Chief Minister’s explanation the fact is that the Sindh government on a number of occasions previously had tried to make the special powers of Rangers a controversial issue. As far as the National Action Plan goes it called for banning all terrorist groups, yet a number of them still function openly in broad daylight. The National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA), should have been made functional, but this has not been done so far as the federal government never released the funds required for its establishment. The criticism of federal government regarding the implementation of National Action Plan is justified but at the same time the Sindh government should realize that the Karachi operation has yielded excellent results. Crime is down, target killing incidents have been controlled to a great extent, the menace of extortion appears to be a thing of the past and the overall situation in the city is becoming better by the day. To protect a ‘few’ the operation should not be questioned, instead the government should now focus on reforming the police in the province. Once the operation is concluded (whenever the times come) the onus to maintain peace in the city will be on the police. For this the highly politicized police in the province will have to be depoliticized and wide scale reforms will have to be carried out.