Situation in Karachi improves; challenges remain

Relatives of target killing victims mourn outside a local hospital in Karachi. - AP Photo.

KARACHI: Although the Supreme Court’s suo motu proceedings on Karachi violence in August last year and subsequent actions taken by the law-enforcement agencies have brought a respite to the scary city situation, complete peace remains a distant dream for the people of Karachi, where at least 18 people have fallen prey to targeted killings since Sept, 2011.

Those killed during the last four months and in the first week of January 2012 were targeted on political and sectarian grounds as well as in attacks that police termed ‘random targeted killing’. These incidents are occurring despite the arrest of more than 200 suspected hit men during the last four months. Though the number appeared smaller than the figures provided by independent sources, data compiled by the police showed that 18 persons — four each in the months of September, October and November, two in December and four in the first seven days of January — had been killed since September, 2011.

“So far 222 assassins have been arrested,” said a senior official citing the police data. “The city police have also traced links behind a number of killings and detected some 347 cases. All arms of the city and provincial police are actively involved in this exercise, as of the 222 arrests, 150 assassins have been arrested by the Karachi range police, 67 by the CID and five by the crimes branch.”

The people of Karachi recognised the success of police and the Rangers and that that the level of fear was declining fast. However, they felt that the threat was not over yet. And their concerns also echoed in a recent statement of the inspector general of the Sindh police, Mushtaq Shah, which reads: “The IG police while taking notice of incidents of violence and targeted killings in the city has sought a detailed report about the incidents happened so far in the current month from additional IG Karachi. He has directed the additional IG to take measures to prevent the incidents availing all possible resources in order to protect lives and properties of the public.”

The statement also cited ‘orders’ from the Sindh police chief for immediate measures to apprehend the culprits ‘indiscriminately’, warning any ‘negligence’ pertaining to protect lives and properties of the citizens would not be tolerated.

Mr Shah also sought enhanced security measures, including snap checking and police patrolling in the troubled areas affected in the recent incidents.

Though the authorities realised that the Karachi situation was very delicate and the threat was not yet over, they observed that the actions being taken by the LEAs was a continuous process to root out the menace of violence and terrorism from society.

“That’s why you see that the targeted operations are still going on,” said Sharfuddin Memon, an official of the Sindh home department. “It can’t be done in a one-time action or with limited raids and planning. The success police and Rangers are getting is the result of a constant exercise on these lines.”

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