2013 deadliest year for LEAs: Policing Karachi becoming a Herculean task

Published July 8, 2013
Paramilitary soldiers and police officers gather at the site of a bomb blast in Karachi June 26, 2013. — Reuters Photo.
Paramilitary soldiers and police officers gather at the site of a bomb blast in Karachi June 26, 2013. — Reuters Photo.

KARACHI: The current year is emerging as the deadliest one in decades for the law-enforcement agencies (LEAs) in Karachi as in the first six months of 2013 more than 100 policemen and Rangers personnel were killed in different parts of the city amid growing violence and worsening law and order.

The authorities and critics agree that the level of threat faced by the police and Rangers has grown multiple times, making policing in Karachi more challenging than in other major cities of the country.

Some critics ask questions about the resources being offered to the security personnel to serve in one of the “most difficult phases of the city's policing history” and the standard of their training.

“A total of 93 policemen have been killed this year in the first six months [January to June 2013],” said an official citing a number of casualties of Karachi police.

“The victims ranked from constable to a deputy superintendent of police and almost all of them have been targeted for their professional association. Hardly there would be a policeman or two, who had some personal issues that cost him his life as otherwise most of the policemen were killed while performing their duties in all five districts of the city — south, east, west, central and Malir.”

The official said that in the first six months of 2012, a total of 44 policemen were killed in Karachi. This year posed a more serious threat to personnel of the key law-enforcement agency as compared to the previous years.

The official said that since 2000, over 420 police officials had been shot dead in several parts of the city.

He, however, said the killings of policemen registered an unprecedented increase in 2011 and the figures crossed the 100 mark in 2012.

“In 2000 seven policemen were killed. Similarly, in 2001, nine policemen met with the same fate. No policeman was reported killed in 2002. Three policemen were killed in 2003, 22 in 2004, 12 in 2005, 40 in 2006, 14 in 2007, 35 in 2008, 31 in 2009, 24 in 2010, 87 in 2011 and 143 were assassinated in 2012,” said the official.

The surge in attacks on the police in Karachi was witnessed a couple of years ago and by the end of 2012 the situation was quite difficult for the security force to maintain its writ and keep themselves safe at a time.

In 2012, 2,339 police encounters were reported in Karachi, in which 145 armed bandits were also killed.

Talking to Dawn, the Sindh police chief agreed to the statement that the situation was getting bad to worse, saying that “policing in Karachi means facing several threats simultaneously”.

“Definitely the threat level is much higher if you compare it with the past few years,” said Sindh police IG Shahid Nadeem Baloch.

“If you remember, in the late 1980s and early 1990s the city police were under the same threat. But you see that this is quite natural when multiple threats are involved. The figures of casualties on the side of the police definitely go up as they directly face these threats.”

With threats ranging from militancy to targeted killings and street crimes to kidnapping for ransom, Karachi is battling organised criminal gangs, armed wings of political parties and members of banned outfits in the 18 million people city with merely 30,000 policemen and still a majority of the force is deployed for security of influential individuals, foreign missions and assigned administrative jobs.

However, experts see the police casualties in other way as well saying that the higher number of attacks against law-enforcement agencies personnel suggested their proactive approach against criminals and suspected militants which in return resulted in organised assaults.

“Apart from conventional crimes, the police are now handling the terrorism threat as well,” said Ahmed Chinoy, the chief of the Citizen Police-Liaison Committee.

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