KARACHI: After the killing of over 265 policemen during the over two-year period of the Rangers-led Karachi operation, the paramilitary force announced on Monday the ‘next phase’ of the operation in which “killers of policemen, lawyers and prosecution witnesses” would be arrested.

The Rangers-led Karachi operation was launched in September 2013 and since then 265 policemen have been killed in the metropolis. Seventy-eight policemen have been killed over the first 10 months of 2015.

Without specifying the number of phases of the Karachi operation, a Rangers spokesman said that in the next phase “hired assassins and their facilitators would be arrested and eliminated”.

The announcement of the second phase by the paramilitary force baffled police, as a senior police officer expressed his unawareness about it saying only Rangers could explain the next phase of the operation.

He said that the police and Rangers had been arresting criminals and killing them in encounters in the city.

Police sources said that three elements — a political party, banned sectarian outfits and hired assassins — were responsible for the recent killings of the law-enforcers in the metropolis.

The sources said that policemen were being targeted to undermine the perceived effectiveness of the Karachi operation since the number of targeted killings had dropped to one or two from eight-10 per day.

They said that lawyers and media persons were also being targeted to put a question mark on the performance of the law-enforcers.

Karachi Bar Association president Naeem Qureshi told Dawn that 54 lawyers had been killed since 2007. Of them, five had been targeted in the current year, he added.

He regretted that most of the cases had been declared ‘A-Class’ due to lack of evidence.

The KBA chief said that Rangers director general Major General Bilal Akbar had decided to reopen all murder cases of lawyers and promised the legal fraternity to take the killers of professionals to task.

He said Colonel Shahid of the Rangers on Monday informed the KBA that Rangers DG would meet them soon.

The police are also more focused on the protection of witnesses since the killing of a key prosecution witness in the Sabeen Mahmud murder case.

Another senior police officer, on condition of anonymity, said that legislation had been carried out but no funds were provided for witnesses’ protection in high-profile cases.

He said although around three-four witnesses had been shifted to safer places by the police recently, funds were needed to shift at least 100 witnesses to safe places.

Meanwhile, the Rangers urged the citizens of Karachi to approach their helpline 1101 to provide information about criminal elements.

Also on Monday, the Rangers arrested suspected hitman Abdul Rahim in Keamari.

The suspect belonged to the militant wing of a political party, said the Rangers spokesman.

During initial interrogation, the held suspect allegedly confessed to have killed three policemen in 2005 and several other killings on ethnic grounds.

“The suspect committed these heinous crimes on the order of his party’s high command,” said the spokesperson.

The suspect was handed over to the police for further legal action, he added.

Published in Dawn, November 3rd, 2015

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