WITH around a dozen fatalities in the last couple of weeks, the number of street crimes and robberies in Karachi has touched a new peak of sorts. This has coincided with the arrival of people who have been displaced by the recent floods. This is not to suggest that the two elements are interlinked. On the contrary, the impunity with which the criminals carry out their nefarious operations, and the speed at which they execute their plans suggest that the culprits are completely comfortable with the geography and dynamics of the city. A displaced stranger would struggle on both counts.

Regardless of who does it, the fact remains that people in Karachi do not have a sense of security that the other big cities in Pakistan enjoy. Watching CCTV footages of crime incidents, it seems that there is no law enforcement agency in Karachi, and citizens are left to fight their own battles with the criminals, or to merely surrender which is the case more often than not. People clearly are on their own when it comes to saving their lives and their valuables on the roads, in markets, restaurants and even in their homes.

There is a sort of consensus on social media that people should ensure their own security, as the government has failed in controlling lawlessness in the metropolis. Nobody quite knows how, though.

Is there any accountability process for federal, provincial or local elected governments and law-enforcement agencies? Can we, the citizens, ask the heads of bodies and agencies to step down when people have simply lost faith in them, their capacity and, more critically, their sincerity in ensuring the safety and security of the common man?

In addition to the worsening law and order situation in the city, civic life in Karachi is on the verge of collapse on multiple counts. There are garbage-collection issues, shortage of water, lack of electricity and gas facilities due to inefficient management of utility companies. Together, they cause mental and physical agony to people, leaving them depressed and frustrated.

The Supreme Court should take suo motu notice of the situation, and ask the relevant authorities to present a timeframe for resolving all such issues. If they are not able to deliver, they should go home. Enough is enough. Karachi and Karachiites have been suffering for long. It is time to take immediate action.

Syed Farhan Ahmed Qadri
Karachi

Published in Dawn, October 2nd, 2022

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