KARACHI: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan deplored on Friday that the floundering Karachi operation could not control law and order in the city despite a more than eleven-month-long exercise, and the rights body, therefore, planned to compile suggestions after meeting members of civil society, political parties, leaders of the minorities and media persons to help set a direction for the law enforcement agencies.
“We have received complaints from NGOs, concerned citizens and others that the law and order situation in Karachi is not improving,” said eminent lawyer and former chairperson of the HRCP Asma Jehangir at the Karachi Press Club.
The HRCP had decided to conduct ‘fact finding’ about the city operation to suggest improvements in it and correct its direction if it was not right, added the rights activist.
As part of their efforts, the HRCP delegation led by Asma Jehangir, Hina Jilani, Asad Iqbal Butt and others held over one-hour-long meeting to seek input from media persons at the KPC.
Reporters belonging to the print and electronic media told the HRCP delegation that the operation was facing hurdles partly because there appeared to be differences between the centre and provincial governments over its command and other issues, which became manifest recently when the Sindh police inspector general was removed reportedly over the procurement of armoured personnel carriers.
They stated that extortion had not decreased but its mode had changed, as now criminal gangs approached leaders or office-bearers of trade associations instead of individuals to collect extortion money. They said that on Thursday a leader of traders was allegedly taken away by law enforcement personnel from Tariq Road to seek information that how much extortion money had been paid and to whom. Traders protested, forcing the officials to release him, the HRCP team was informed. Besides, people in uniform were also allegedly involved in extortion. The judiciary, media, political parties and even police were under pressure from different sources.
The rights group was informed that lately extra-judicial killings had increased in the city. Some days back four people were gunned down in alleged fighting between two gangs. As the resurfacing of such killings put a question mark over the performance of the LEAs, the same night police and Rangers conducted a targeted operation in Lyari in which three suspects were killed “just to divert attention of the people from eruption of violent gang warfare in old city”.
Journalists said police and Rangers personnel had also been killed in Karachi but those murders were mostly ‘revenge killings’.
Media men said they believed that lately the government had allegedly shown a ‘compromise’ over the operation as initially there was a talk of taking over 100 alleged criminals being patronised by political parties to task when Shahid Hayat was the AIG of Karachi police, but since then no one talked about such a list. The media had reported that the provincial government was planning to announce reward money for their arrest but since then there had been silence on that front.
Journalists also pointed out that for the last 22 years, Rangers had been in Karachi, and the continued disturbances were a question mark over their performance.
About influence of the Taliban in Karachi, the HRCP team was informed that militancy had increased on the outskirts of Karachi, where recently encounters and reports of disappearances had been reported.
One journalist said militancy existed in the past, too, when the state patronised seminaries, but they had become more lethal now with the joining of militants from other parts of the country. Therefore, sectarian killings also continued in Karachi but with one major difference as compared to other parts of the country that here members of both sects were being targeted.
People who spoke on the occasion included journalists Saeed Sarbazi, Shams Keerio, Zia Rehman, Riaz Sohail, Qazi Asif, Saeed Jan, Arbab Chandio, Irshad Khokhar and Aziz Sanghur as well as Prof Tauseef Ahmed, head of the mass communication department of Federal Government Urdu University,.
Asma Jehangir said their team would also meet political leaders, representatives of the minorities, law enforcement agencies and government and would make their findings public on Sunday.
Published in Dawn, July 19th, 2014