KARACHI: The Sindh police force is set to acquire another consignment of over 4,000 9mm pistols for Karachi amid growing security challenges, which warrant use of effective and easy-to-handle arms in urban policing against organised criminal and militant gangs, it emerged on Sunday.

The decision, officials said, was part of departmental reforms pledged by Sindh IG Kaleem Imam in the aftermath of the recent targeted attacks and growing complaints of street crimes, mainly in Karachi, which not only led to the loss of lives but also raised questions over professionalism and policing skills of the law enforcement agency. The Sindh police have issued new guidelines for reforms in overall policing and directed officers to ensure their prompt implementation.

“The fresh set of instructions have directly come from the top authorities involving several measures that include regular firing exercises, deployment of young policemen at public places and replacement of old vehicles with new ones,” said an official.

‘Prompt implementation of new guidelines issued for reforms in overall policing ordered’

“The measures include acquisition of 9mm pistols to be given to the operational force in Karachi. After the previous consignment of over 6,000 9mm pistols, another one carrying 4,500 is expected to be received within the next two months. It is a principled decision that the conventional weapons, which have been in the use of the police force for the past two decades, will gradually be replaced with their improved versions. Cities like Karachi have become increasingly weaponised over the years and the old models are turning ineffective in such a situation.”

There was a conviction in the police hierarchy that apart from lack of professionalism and policing skills, the arms currently in use were not easy to handle and unfit in the security environment of Karachi, he added.

At present, the official said, the city police were using submachine guns (calibre 7.62mm), AK-47 assault rifles, commonly known as Kalashnikov, and G-3 rifles. Similarly, 9mm metric calibre SMGs of MP-5 were also in use of some police units, he said.

The Karachi police backed by Sindh Rangers have taken on threats ranging from terrorist attacks to deadly battles with gangsters, street criminals and hitmen associated with political groups and succeeded in improving the city’s security situation to a large extent.

Peace has returned to residential and commercial areas after years of bloodshed on sectarian, ethnic and political lines following the targeted operation launched in September 2013. Still, street crime remains a serious challenge for the law enforcement agencies and police authorities vow that the reforms being introduced would ultimately have a positive effect on the performance of the law enforcement agency.

“In the first phase, the Karachi police force is being armed with 9mm pistols, replacing the heavy arms gradually,” said the official. “In several areas, including Defence and Clifton, the Karachi police have armed members of the force with small weapons like 9mm pistols and not with AK-47 assault rifles. The force comprising the personnel who have completed their training and passed out recently is being expanded to other districts as well.”

Published in Dawn, August 26th, 2019