IT is a sad reflection on both the police and the administration in Karachi that few measures have been taken to contain the rising graph of violent crime in the metropolis. On Friday, robbers made off with over Rs4.5m in a bank heist in the city’s Nazimabad area, the second such incident in two days. At least seven bank robberies have been committed in the city this year, in which over Rs20m has been looted. Such is the level of official apathy that criminals, brushing off any fears of being caught and tried, are robbing banks with impunity without hiding their identity and in full view of CCTV cameras. At the same time, street crimes and hold-ups during traffic jams have become so common that most people don’t even report these incidents to the police. All of this points to the complete collapse of the policing system in Karachi.
Police say that several groups are involved in bank robberies, including extremists, criminals based in rural Sindh as well as urban bandits looking for major hauls. Though they claim to have solved several bank robbery cases, the numbers prove they have to do a much better job in neutralising criminal gangs. There were close to 20 bank robberies in 2011, while figures from 2010 and 2009 are not too different. If religious militants are indeed involved, then the situation is all the more alarming. Meanwhile, trying to cover up for their failure, the official law-enforcers put the entire blame on security companies. True, much of the criticism levelled at these firms is valid, but surely this amounts to the police passing the buck and shirking their own responsibility. Where the administration is concerned, the maintenance of a crime-free society is hardly a priority. Few government officials raise the issue of rampant crime in Karachi at the relevant forums. A centrally coordinated system needs to be put in place to check bank robberies as well as street crime, while elected representatives need to question the police about the latter’s role in this dismal situation and recommend measures that could improve the performance of the law enforcers.