KARACHI, Dec 8: As the Rangers-led ‘targeted operation’ has entered the fourth month, its effectiveness has stirred up a debate within and outside the relevant institutions.
Until recently, of the 1,386 illegal arms cases registered during the Karachi operation so far, only three have been disposed of by courts which reflects a lack of planning and coordination among the organisations concerned.
Karachiites had heaved a sigh of relief and pinned great hopes on the operation understandably because of the will and determination expressed by the federal and Sindh governments to rid the city of criminals at any cost. However, their hopes are now dying down.
A recent correspondence between two key institutions has provided reasons behind the concerns being expressed by different quarters.
“It is stated that during the period September 5 to November 17, 2013, 1,386 cases under Sindh Arms Act 2013 have been challaned in different courts of law,” said Karachi’s Additional Inspector-General Shahid Hayat in a letter to the provincial home department. The AIG noted that only three cases had so far been disposed of.
“In order to ensure speedy disposal of such cases, it is requested that two separate courts for the hearing of cases under Sindh Arms Act 2013 may please be established in Karachi,” he wrote.
Although the Sindh government has moved the Sindh High Court for the establishment of five special courts in the city to exclusively try the cases pertaining to possession of illegal arms and ammunition, critics and experts believe that the plan was actually on the cards before the launch of the targeted operation.
Launched on Sept 5, after the federal government empowered the Rangers to lead the operation with support of police against criminals in the city, the operation drew a strong reaction from certain quarters but largely welcomed by different segments of society.
The decision to pick the Rangers for the lead role in restoring peace to the city was taken at a special session of the federal cabinet held after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s extensive consultation with all stakeholders, including Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad, Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, leaders of major political parties, representatives of the business community and the media during his two-day stay in Karachi in September.
However, experts see the lengthy exercise of planning and formulating an effective strategy flawed. They apprehend that the authorities concerned have either ignored some key aspects or failed to enlist the measures needed to be taken as follow-up of the Rangers-led operation.
“I think the level of interest or seriousness that is required to be shown on a national issue is lacking; peace in Karachi is by any mean a national issue,” said Jamil Yusuf, the former chief and founding member of the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee (CPLC), who is also witness to the history of extreme violence in the city.
“The authorities took a very good decision [of launching an operation] after more than half a decade of violence. They took immediate measures but unfortunately did nothing for sustainability of these measures. Nothing like immediate reforms in the law and the judicial system, strong policing, setting up of a network of detectives etc has been done so far. As such, things are not moving the way they were expected to.”
He gave the example of Great Britain, where London violence made the authorities to set up ‘night courts’ to prosecute suspects and convict the guilty through speedy trials. Nothing different was done in Columbia, where strong policing and detective system were employed to challenge drug mafias.
“But what we have done to eliminate the deep-rooted criminal networks, fight against organised gangs and take on terrorist outfits, which have developed their capabilities many times over the past five or six years? The fact is that the threat to this city is covert and smartly-planned but the measures we take and the planning we do are exposed and flawed.”