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KARACHI: Conceding that while street crime in Karachi is a highly disturbing and critical issue, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said on Wednesday that after decades of gloom the people of Sindh’s capital had begun living a normal life where now they faced problems other than terrorism and violence.

“You are noticing the problems being created by street crime because now you no longer see terrorism and violence in the city,” said the chief minister while winding up debate on an adjournment motion on law and order in Karachi during the Sindh Assembly’s session.

“I concede this problem [street crime] is disturbing, rather it is critical, but we have stemmed it to an extent and are trying to control it completely,” said CM Shah.

“We have brought back peace and will not allow the province to experience the hellfire again.”

The adjournment motion was tabled by Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s Mohammad Hussain, which was supported by the government to give an opportunity to the lawmakers to give vent to their reservations.

Mr Shah said though his government had succeeded in reducing street crime, yet, “we are not satisfied with it”.

MQM says the operation that brought peace to Karachi was launched upon its demand

He said there were times, not that distant in the past, when the city was mired in terrorism and ethnic violence; when no one would even have faint concern about street crime. However, it was very much there then as well.

“Now, when we notice the problems being created by street crime, it also shows we have crossed the difficult terrains of terrorism and violence.”

Mr Shah said the security situation in Sindh, as elsewhere in the country, was worse when the PPP came into power in the province, and it took years of hard labour to control.

He added that some 61 incidents of terrorism were recorded in 2013, which fell to two last year and so far no such incident had occurred this year.

Similarly, 509 incidents of targeted killing were registered in 2013, which fell to 23 last year and so far some five such incidents had been reported this year.

He said the Sindh police had solved such incidents as the Safoora Goth bus carnage, attack on Qalandar’s shrine and murder of Amjad Sabri.

“On the other hand, what has happened to the investigation of incidents such as the Army Public School tragedy in Peshawar and the jailbreak in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa?”

He paid homage to thousands of law enforcement personnel who were martyred in their effort for a better law and order situation in the metropolis.

He briefly delved into the past, saying the city’s situation worsened in the 1980s, which led to a ‘clean-up operation’ in 1990s. He bitterly said every officer who had taken part in the operation was eliminated. He said the ratio of street crime alarmingly increased when officers were transferred and posted without considering their merits.

“And, while posting them somewhere those officers were given task to get members of the Pakistan Peoples Party [to] defect.”

He said the Sindh High Court had directed his government that it would devise a law regarding police reforms and hand it over to the provincial government. However, it would be up to the government to adopt it or devise its own law.

He said the PPP government did not implicate its opponents in politically-motivated cases as was done during the regime of retired Gen Pervez Musharraf.

MQM-P claims credit for Karachi operation

Earlier, Mohammad Hussain, who moved the adjournment motion, said the operation which brought peace to Karachi was launched at the MQM’s demand. However, he deplored that street crime had swelled.

He said 209 four-wheelers were snatched and 1,234 stolen last year. Similarly, 298 motorcycles were snatched and 24,266 stolen in the city last year, when some 13,245 mobile phones were also snatched.

The figures for the first 10 months of the current year, he added, were equally disturbing. He said 161 cars were snatched and 1,009 stolen; 1,763 motorcycles were snatched and 21,715 stolen, and 12,278 mobile phones were snatched and 16,550 stolen. Some 10 kidnappings, 42 cases of extortion and 270 killings had been reported.

He said 90pc of the police force was non-local and demanded that local people be preferred in recruitment.

MQM-P’s parliamentary leader Kanwar Naveed alleged that a section of police was itself involved in crimes.

MQM-P’s Khwaja Izharul Hasan said the government had spent around Rs500 billion on law and order since 2008, yet it had not even a single union council to show as a crime-free place. He said Rs23bn had been allocated for law and order in 2008; the amount had crossed Rs100bn this fiscal.

Khwaja Izhar alleged that the police were used for political designs.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Khurram Sher Zaman said just 14,000 out of 31,000 policemen in Karachi were available for field duty. He termed the remaining 17,000 as “missing” policemen. He demanded that the police be given facilities on a par with the army’s.

MQM’s Rashid Khilji demanded that record of those coming from other provinces be documented.

Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal’s Abdul Rasheed said most killings (106) were witnessed in Malir district last year, and the figure was 79 so far this year.

Grand Democratic Alliance’s Nusrat Abbasi regretted that the provincial government had not found a single competent person to appoint as home minister. She asked what happened to the witness protection bill, passed by the Sindh Assembly.

PTI’s parliamentary leader Haleem Adil Shaikh said a section of police was involved in criminal activities. He said those involved in crime were still on their posts while honest officials were being removed. He said drug peddling and unemployment were key factors behind the increasing street crime.

Sindh Food Authority

Food Minister Hari Ram Kishorilal informed the house that after a year to the passage of the Sindh Food Authority Act, the authority’s board was notified in March this year and it had started functioning in April.

He said the authority had limited staff and funds but it took action against 5,598 people engaged in food business.

Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2018