WEDNESDAY once again brought home the dangers that lurk on the streets of Karachi. Armed men waylaid a car in which a cotton trader from Daharki who had just withdrawn a large sum of money from a bank was travelling with his brother. When he put up resistance, the criminals shot him and made off with the looted cash. The wounded man died in hospital during treatment. In the other incident, a newly married 28-year-old was killed at the door of his residence when he opened it to let in his mother and sister and was fired upon by a mugger intent on depriving the women of their jewellery. That same evening, another man was shot dead while resisting a robbery on Superhighway. The opposition in Sindh has laid into the PPP-led government for ‘letting criminals loose’ on unarmed civilians and demanded that the Rangers be directed to conduct a wide-ranging operation against the criminal elements in the city.

When the Rangers-led cleanup operation in Karachi commenced in 2013, the metropolis was a hotbed of ethnic, political and sectarian violence with rampant targeted killings, kidnapping for ransom and bank robberies. The crackdown against these major crimes by the paramilitary, which was their mandate, also led to a simultaneous drop in street crimes, especially vehicle theft and mobile snatching. In the years since, however, even while major crimes have remained under control, the graph of street crime has started rising, with spikes occurring every now and then. But it is the duty of the police to protect the citizens, and we must demand they do a better job of it. For one, more high-quality security cameras must be installed at crime hotspots and there should be increased police patrolling. Another factor contributing to the stubborn levels of street crime is that perpetrators, even when nabbed, are often back on the streets after being acquitted, which calls for better collection of evidence to ensure conviction. The hapless residents of Pakistan’s financial heart deserve no less.

Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2022

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