|Rangers DG Major General Bilal Akbar|
KARACHI: Pakistan Rangers, Sindh, on Thursday claimed to have estimated more than Rs230 billion being generated annually from Karachiites through extortion, smuggling of Iranian diesel, water supply and land-grabbing, mainly patronised by “a major political party”, and that part of that huge amount was also being used for “terror-funding”, a decade-old gang warfare in Lyari and criminal activities across the city.
The claim from the paramilitary force came in a statement citing briefing by Rangers DG Major General Bilal Akbar to the June 4 meeting of the Sindh apex committee, which was chaired by Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah. However, the spokesman for the Rangers just said “no comment” when asked about the reason for making those estimates public after a week.
The statement claimed that after the apex committee appreciated Major General Akbar’s briefing and decided to set up a committee to resolve the issues pointed out at the meeting, the paramilitary force said that with the operation against targeted killings and terrorism, “rooting out terror-funding network is also key to sustainable peace in Karachi”.
“According to an estimate more than Rs230 billion is being generated annually through different illegal means that is not only a source of loss to the exchequer but it has also agonised the citizens,” said the statement after detailing types of illegal business activities being operated by the mafia, political groups and influential personalities of Sindh.
The statement mainly mentioned extortion, land-grabbing, smuggling of Iranian diesel and illegal water supply as a key source of this black money, which on one hand served vested interests of individuals and on the other fed activities of criminal gangs and terrorists.
“According to details the amount generated at the fish harbour through illegal means is distributed among the different groups of Lyari gang war and some influential personalities of Sindh,” said the statement. “The report discloses that the millions of rupees every month are distributed among different groups of Lyari gang war which is used for arms buying and feeding their armed men.”
The Rangers DG briefing to the apex committee also referred to the “millions of rupees” collected in the name of Zakat and Fitra forcibly every year. He also pointed to the money generated through the collection of hides of sacrificial animals every year by different political and religious parties, which used to operate their “militant wings” and had become a key source of “terrorist activities”.
Extortion from small markets, vendors, roadside stall operators, weekly bazaars, canteens and even graveyards and schools also generated millions of rupees for the criminals, according to the paramilitary force’s findings.
“Land-grabbing and China-cutting is a new dimension in the backdrop of crimes in Karachi,” said the statement while quoting briefing by the Rangers DG to the apex committee. “Land-grabbing and China-cutting is distributed into three parts –– construction on government land, encroachment on government land and encroachment on private property.”
The huge crime racket was jointly operated by the political parties, city district government, district administration, construction companies, estate agents and police officials, said the statement.
“They all work in connivance in an organised way and most of them are patronised by a major political party of Karachi. However, other political leaders and builders are also involved in this heinous business,” said the Rangers DG to the apex committee though the statement did not carry the name of that “major political party”.
“The amount generated through smuggling of Iranian diesel is also a key source of crime and terrorism funding. This amount is used to feed private army of political groups and feudals of Sindh. Influential persons of Sindh are involved in this illegal business and part of this smuggling money is regularly paid to those influential persons.”
Water supply in Karachi, the Sindh Rangers said, was one of the key illegal businesses which generated millions of rupees every year. The particular disclosure by the paramilitary force about the water supply came at a time when the city is facing one of the worst water crises of its history.
“In their previous tenures, different governments introduced system of ghost employees’ appointments in an organised way. This system helps in generating millions of rupees on a permanent basis. This black money is used for criminal and terrorist activities,” said the statement.
“Illegal marriage halls, illegal parking, drugs business under political patronisation, match fixing, money laundering, beggars mafia, cyber crime and foreign funding of seminaries are paying a key role in crime funding and promotion of terrorism structure.”
Published in Dawn, June 12th, 2015