OVER the past few decades, Karachi has witnessed grotesque violence, including targeted killings, political, ethnic and sectarian violence as well as acts of terrorism. While thankfully levels of violence in the aforesaid categories have come down, street crime remains a major headache for the city’s people. Criminals appear to strike at will, accosting people drawing cash from banks or ATMs; threatening people trapped in traffic jams; and shooting citizens over resistance to mugging attempts. On Monday alone, four people were killed while resisting muggers in the metropolis. So rampant has armed mugging become in the city that people are advised not to risk their lives and hand over their cash and mobiles/valuables to criminals. Moreover, concerns have been raised in the Sindh Assembly about the resurgence of armed gangs and the sale of narcotics in the Lyari area. MMA lawmaker Abdul Rasheed, who represents the area, told the house that police were doing little to curb crime in Lyari.
A solid strategy is needed to check the increase in street crime in Karachi. The city’s new police chief Imran Yaqoob Minhas, who took office last month, told the media that battling street crime was his top priority. These intentions need to be translated into action on the ground. Patrolling should be increased while cameras should monitor points where muggers are known to strike. The police need to counter street crime aggressively as too many precious lives have been lost to trigger-happy criminals. As for Lyari, the state needs to ensure one of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods does not become a hotbed for criminal gangs once again. There must be zero tolerance for gang activity and the sale of drugs in the area. Moreover, the state needs to offer alternatives to the impoverished area’s youths so that they do not fall into the clutches of gangs. Along with better law enforcement, educational, sports and economic activities must be promoted in Lyari to ensure the area’s people have avenues for upward mobility.
Published in Dawn, June 2nd, 2021